How do you choose a political party? I was having a discussion with some friends over a pint the other day, concerning a friend of ours who is extremely liberal – but who votes Conservative because her parents do, and she wouldn’t ever consider changing her vote. To me this makes no sense, and I wonder how many other people act in a similar way and if they were to change their vote would it cause a swing?
I have also been having thoughts about my choice of political party and whether or not they suit my changing needs.
When I was 18 years old and first able to vote, in the 2003 local elections – the country had just launched a war on the nation of Iraq and tensions were running high. The Liberal Democrats were a protest vote against the war and they courted it well – they even managed to take over Cardiff council and two years later Jenny Willott (Liberal Democrat) took the Cardiff Central Parliamentary seat from the Conservatives. But at 18 I had different priorities, different ideals.
I was able to vote for whoever I wanted, since a lot of their policies didn’t affect me. I didn’t have children, I wasn’t a homeowner, I didn’t have a car and I didn’t have a high paying job – all of the things that are really affected by Government policy. I was able to be idealistic and vote for the party that played up to my only view – that the invasion of Iraq was unjust and totally illegal – this is why I chose the Liberal Democrats.
Now I am learning to drive, I have a well paid job and formerly owned my own company, I am due to have my first child and I will also soon be a car owner. Government policy now really affects me. If the wrong people are in power I could end up being taxed astronomically and have entitlements curbed – for example family tax credits and free school milk, both of which are under threat from the new “Com-Dem” coalition.
I will stop here and say that I think almost everything I have written previously, and will write after this, may actually be quite moot since the United Kingdom Government as it stands right now is a Frankenstein’s monster that not a single person in the country voted for, so “choose a party” in the case of the last general election is a pretty laughable concept – but I am confident that as soon as this coalition breaks down and a new election is called we will get back to the Government > opposition status quo will be re-established.
Previously I would never have considered voting Conservative – but their policies actually favour me and my situation. Voting Liberal Democrat, it’s entirely possible that in a few years time, once I hit that salary threshold, my income tax would be set at 50% and that is unacceptable. The Liberal Democrats speak to the working poor, students and idealists. Their policies cannot be favoured by successful people as they are the very people that their policies single out to be held upside-down and everything shaken from their pockets to fund lavish welfare schemes and initiatives.
I do still have my beliefs and ideals; especially when it comes to foreign affairs, I am a very apathetic person. I believe that as a well-off country we should be helping countries by providing aid, expertise and the United Kingdom should be a sanctuary for the downtrodden (i.e. asylum seekers). We have built a great nation where we can feel free from fear, repression and persecution – why should we not allow others who are not as fortunate, to bask in our welfare?
But this doesn’t conform to Tory ideals. This is very much a liberal view, so this goes back to my initial question: Do I vote with my heart of my head?
Voting Conservative will always be seen as the “selfish” vote, a vote of self-preservation, while a vote for the Liberal Democrats is seen as an idealistic vote.
This is the conundrum that I faced at the last election, and I continued as I always had, but who knows next time around?