I am a betrayed voter.
Let me put that in some context. I was born in 1982, the same year as Maggie Thatcher showed why she was the last person in British politics with any guts; she stood up to the fascist junta of Argentina and recovered the Falklands for Britain. A handful of years later, I have vague memories of the Poll Tax showing Thatcher’s weaknesses; the lady was not for turning, whatever happened! Thatcher was overthrown by her own party and replaced by the grey John Major, who lacked both her drive and bloody-minded determination.
I was becoming politically aware when Tony Blair won a smashing election victory. It didn’t take long for me to start noticing problems. Blair was all style, no substance; he lacked the long-term focus of a Thatcher or Churchill, too keen to make himself popular rather than make the hard decisions. It was a lethal combination. When the going got tough, Blair stuck his fingers in his ears and pretended that nothing was wrong. I don’t know if Blair believed his own spin doctoring or not, but I do know he was a disastrous Prime Minister. Where is the logic in getting Britain involved in two wars and then not trying to actually win them? Blair was eventually pushed out of office and replaced by Gordon Brown, who tried to be a dour Scot. Brown lacked both the charm and competence to handle the office.
And then there was David Cameron.
I won’t lie; there was a time when I thought David Cameron had come to save us all. When the Expenses Crisis blew up (I don’t think either Blair or Brown were directly responsible, but Blair (at least) encouraged MPs to take all they could get by setting a very poor example) Cameron was the only major party leader who showed true leadership. The Tories took their lumps – I think every party took a beating as more and more expenses were uncovered – but they came out looking better than either Labour or the Liberal Democrats. I expected Cameron to win the election. Instead, he was forced into a strange alliance with the Liberal Democrats.
Cameron has been something of a disappointment as Prime Minister. To be fair, the aforementioned alliance with the Liberal Democrats limited his freedom of action, but he failed to deliver many of the policies I wanted. There was no referendum on EU membership, no strict cap on immigration, no major political reform, continuous and downright horrific cuts to the armed forces, a utterly stupid move to add VAT to eBooks and a complete failure to get to grips with rising extremism on the streets of Britain. At best, the UK can be said to have ambled along; at worst, few of the lessons learned in a decade of Labour mismanagement can be said to have taken hold.
I feel betrayed. I’m not the only one.
The major choices in the coming election would seem to be Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats and SNP. A Conservative government would be more of the same, Labour seems to have learned nothing from the Blair/Brown years, the Liberal Democrats engage in too much wishful thinking and the SNP has been showing some disturbingly illiberal traits recently. We had a referendum on Scottish Independence, the Scots voted NO … and the SNP refuses to accept that the issue has been settled for the foreseeable future. Like the EU’s unelected elite, the SNP would like us to keep voting until we give them the answer they want.
Bah. A party that has so little respect for democracy deserves nothing but scorn.
And then there is the UKIP.
The Mainstream Media (a term I shamelessly borrow from America) has been roundly mocking the UKIP, calling it a party of racists, fascists and nationalists. Sure, there are assholes in the UKIP’s ranks, but that’s true of every party. Take a look at the MPs who lived high on the hog before the Expenses Crisis, then ask yourself if the UKIP’s handful of bad apples is any better or worse than those in other parties? They’ve certainly done a great deal less damage!
I spent the last few days reading the UKIP’s manifesto (summery here, complete here). There’s a lot of good stuff in it, policies I believe to be sensible, if not urgent requirements. I think I’m going to be voting UKIP.
Can the UKIP deliver, if elected? I don’t know – but i don’t trust any of the larger parties any longer.
The downside is simple. As I noted earlier in my blog, taking my vote from the Conservatives and giving it to UKIP may weaken the Conservatives and put a Labour/Liberal Democrat/SNP government into power. The Conservatives have noted that for themselves. That is true … but really, why would I vote Conservative when the Conservatives have failed to deliver the goods?
If you’re unsure who to vote for, ignore the media, read the party manifestos and then consider their past record at delivering on their promises. Britain’s future deserves no less …
… And if you don’t vote UKIP, at least know why you’re making that choice.