Why bother voting?

Why bother voting if you don’t live in a marginal constituency? This is the question posed by a BBC News article published today. (here)

Exactly the question I have been asking myself in the runup to the election on May 5th.

To explain to those who aren’t politically savvy, a marginal constituency is where the area that you vote in, judging on the results from the last election has 2 or more candidates that could possibly win the seat. This is judged by how far apart they were last time.

In my constituency, Cardiff South & Penarth, there is little to no chance that Alun Michael, the current Labour electorate, will lose the vote. He has won each and every time since 1988 and his pre-decessor, the late James Callaghan (recently passed away, ex-prime minister) held the seat from 1945 to 1988. A long, long time.

In the 2001 general election, Alun Michael won by a clear 12,287 votes. To give you a picture of how big a win he enjoyed, his closest rival, Maureen Owen, received 7,807 whilst he received 20,094. Close to 3x more.

As far as I can see, the picture is going to be pretty much the same this time around, my vote for the Liberal Democrats is basically going to do absolutely nothing to change anything. So why should I bother wasting my time walking to the polling station? (For reference, the Lib Dems only received 4,572 votes last time around).

However, in the constituency bordering mine, Cardiff Central, the Labour MP, Jon Owen Jones, only just held onto his seat in the 2001 election, winning by just 659 votes over Lib Dem candidate Jenny Willott.
Cardiff Central is made up mainly of student from the two univesities that sit in its area, UWIC and Cardiff University, so this constituency is highly likely to be won by Jenny Willott as I think it would be fair to say that the students haven’t been very well looked after by the Labour party in the past 4 years.
Those who weren’t outraged by the war in Iraq (of which I would imagine there were very few) will definitely have been enraged by the fact Labour will be introducing “Top-up fees”, in other words, having to pay to go to university, something the LibDems wholly oppose.
Uh-Oh. Bad news for Mr Jones, although in his defence, he did vote against the motion to go to war in Iraq, and also against the amendment to the higher-education bill, which has introduced the power to charge university top-up fees, obviously in the interests of his constituents.
However, the hard-line of his party as a whole on these issues will be the cause of his downfall.

That’s my two pence, anyway.

Lesser of two evils

Just called NTL, finally deciding to bite the bullet and venture into the world of non-cable broadband.

I’d received an offer from Bulldog to join their 4mb broadband service which has just been rolled out in my area for £19.50 a month for 12 months. Pretty neat, seeing as I’m currently paying £37.50 a month for 3mb with NTL.

Speaking to their retentions department, the overly nice lady asked why I wanted to leave?
Citing the reasons of incompetancy, high prices, capped broadband she sounded a little worried.
I even took the time to explain how last month I received no less than 4 final demands & a man at the door who came and confiscated my digibox for a bill that I paid over a month before.
This had been cleared up and they had apologised profusely, apparently it happened accidently to hundreds of people, their billing system had fouled up. Some consolation that is.

Well, I was adamant I was leaving them. No looking back. ADSL here we come!

But then she played a nasty trick on me..
I mean, who could resist half price broadband for 12 months?
AND half price telephone line rental for the same amount of time.

Doesn’t look like I’ll be so ADSL bound now. Bah. I can always dream.

Lies lies lies..

The Sunday Telegraph published a great article entitled “10 Labour lies” and surprisingly they are able to make their argument stick pretty well.

Ken over at the 2005 General Election Blog has a a great, “very true come to think of it” rebuttal to Lie #8.

  • Lie 8: ‘Interest rates halved with Labour’ (Labour poster).
  • The truth: The bank base rate in May 1997 when the Conservatives were last in
    office was 6.25 per cent. The current figure is 4.75 per cent, a fall of around
    a quarter, not a half.

    Labour’s response: Under Labour, interest rates have averaged 5.2 per cent;
    they averaged 10.4 per cent between 1979 and 1997.

    “What a load of disingenuous rubbish. Under that interpretation of ‘falling
    interest rates’, interest rates could have increased every year since
    and Labour could still have claimed that interest rates had fallen
    under Labour.”

    An interesting take..

    The Times are dubbing this “The Basil Fawly election“, as in “Sssh, Don’t mention the war!”

    I would dare to agree, so far there has been very very minimal talk from any party, especially Labour & the Conservatives about Iraq.
    Considering this was the most important issue of 2003 and most of 2004, I thought it would have been high on their adgenda. Obviously I was wrong, unless we’ve got it all to come? Which would be a pretty silly idea on their parts as we all know that whatever is said closer to the election is what will stick in the minds of voters and potentially decide their vote.

    Pretty much most of the country is against the war, or at least, not completely for it, according to opinion polls*.
    Our war was nothing like the American war, there was nothing patriotic about it, nobody that I have spoken to about it has felt that we needed to do it to sustain our safety and security, especially now that it has been revealed that we were lied to for the most part.
    The intelligence was flawed? Was there actually any intelligence in the first place? It looks to me as if they made it all up off the tops of their heads, a nice bit of improvisation by the government.

    *The latest MORI poll, conducted 17-21 February 2005 gives the following results about the war in Iraq. 1,948 people 18+ were polled.

      (All) 18+ 55-64 65-74 75+
      (1,948 ) (321 ) (303 ) (179 )
      % % % %
    Approve 28 25 23 24
    Disapprove 63 67 70 66
    Don’t know 9 8 8 11
    Net approve -35 -42 -47 -42