Thursday, May 6, 2010

Why I'm Voting Conservative

The nation votes today... exciting! Well, it is for political anoraks like me anyway. I've even taken Friday off work to recover from the all nighter I'm likely to pull to watch the results coming in. What a sad-act!

I'll be voting Conservative today for the following reasons:
  • I trust them more to tackle the debt crisis effectively and with a view to long term economic growth that will benefit everyone.
  • I like their plans for education. I have 3 young children and I think these ideas could be the kind of radical reform that could boost education quality just in time for them to benefit.
  • Tax increases are inevitable regardless who wins, but the Tories are more likely to put the burden of the deficit reduction on spending cuts rather than tax increases. The state has grown exponentially in the last 13 years and this has unhealthily warped our economy, especially in some areas of the country. The Tories would focus on encouraging private sector growth rather than further expansion of the state.
  • Cameron as a leader. I don't think he's had the best campaign, Clegg has been the surprise package steeling the show early on. Cameron had a similar honeymoon period when he first came to peoples attention but that has long worn off and it was inevitable that Clegg was going to benefit from the exposure. Both men are charismatic, but leadership is not just about charisma. I look at how Cameron has led the Tories and I'm impressed. He's taken a broken party and dragged it (kicking and screaming in some sections) into the 21st century. He led impressively during the expenses scandal while Brown dithered and Clegg was being sanctimonious, showing a deft touch by managing to turn the crisis into an opportunity. He acted quickly to remove the old guard (with the duck houses and Balmoral style houses) who wanted to dampen his reforms of the party. This showed a degree of ruthlessness and steel that some say is missing in him.

    He's accused of lacking substance by his opponents. But no other opposition leader I can remember or that I know of has put as much effort into policy formulation and preparation for government as Cameron. I have to admit to wondering if the Conservative's "Big Society" idea was their version of Blair's empty "3rd way" mantra. But look beyond the headlines and I see an attempt to radically change Britain to encourage more personal responsibility and less state dependency. That will be a sea change for our society and pay dividends in the long term.
  • The Tories plans for health care do lack a radical approach but, to be fair, the NHS has suffered from constant government meddling and political objective setting so it will come as a blessed relief to them. However, I am pleased to see them proposing to measure health care providers' performance by overall outcomes rather than politically driven targets. I'd rather know I'm more likely to survive cancer with a good quality of life than be promised that I'd be seen in x number of weeks following diagnosis. There's no doubt being seen quickly is important in most cases. Indeed the Tories propose making such information more comprehensive and more easily accessible, but I'd rather my consultant made the best decisions for my case, not to fit a politicians target. His and the hospital's performance should then be judged on the overall outcome of the treatment they prescribe and supply.
  • Europe: This used to be a their Achilles heel. But Cameron has settled the issue and the new intake of MPs will more closely represent the euro-scepticism of the electorate. The Tories will not join the Euro and will hold a referendum on any future treaties that would take any more powers away from our elected government. Much has been made of the "nutters" (in Clegg's words) that the Tories are now allied with in the European parliament. When one of the "nutters", the President of Poland, was killed in a plane crash the truth about the heroism of the man's struggle for freedom in Eastern Europe came to light. However, little coverage has been put on the Fascist and Communist collaborators and homophobes that sit in the very mainstream groupings Cameron took the Tories out of and Labour and the LibDems still share seats with.
  • Avoid a hung parliament. Labour can't win an outright majority, that's clear from the polls. Nor can the LibDems due to their current low seat base. Only the Conservatives can form a stable majority government and any other vote (excluding anti-Labour tactical voting) threatens, what I've always thought would be, the worst case scenario: a hung parliament. The true nature of a hung parliament has not been properly explored in the campaign by the media. Romantic notions being spun by those who would benefit from such a situation describe politicians being made to work together in an utopian new world of political cooperation. This is not realistic or, I think, desirable. Should there be a hung parliament, the decision as to who governs is taken away from the electorate and given to the party leaders, who will cobble together deals to allow some kind of rickety coalition government to operate until a disagreement amongst its participants brings it down triggering another General Election. It's undesirable, particularly now, because we need clarity and stability to deal with the debt crisis and foster an economic recovery. Be wary of those offering a ride on the electoral reform bandwagon. Yes, things need to be reviewed and possibly changed. But now is not the time and much more debate and public understanding of the options is required before any changes should be contemplated.
  • We need to clearly and decisively reject 13 years of dishonest, bullying government and replace it with openness and honesty. Cameron promises this. But then, so did Blair! The electorate won't be so naive as to believe this promise on face value again. My point is that we need to reject such behaviour after 3 previous elections where we actually rewarded it.
I could go on but it's almost 3am and I have to be up in 4 hours for work!

Here's a link to the Conservative Manifesto if you want more detail.

Happy voting, whoever you decide to vote for.

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