This Thursday will be the third general election I have voted in, and the first that I won’t be voting Liberal Democrat. But it occurs to me that I have never been as politically aware as I am now – its only been within the last six months that I’ve been awakened to the truth of our political system, and I’m hoping that I might be able to impart some of the knowledge that I’ve gained here.
The truth is that up until recently I probably knew more about America politics than British. If I was living in the States, I’d probably be a paid up member of the Democrat party. In the UK, the lines between left and right aren’t nearly so clear cut, which is why I’ve found politics so confusing for most of my life.
The reason that I voted Liberal Democrat twice probably has more to do with the fact that I have no idea what it means to be Labour or Conservative than because of Lib Dem policies. Although, in the last election, I was keen to support students and the promise of no increase in university fees. Being let down on that promise is why I won’t be voting Lib Dem again.
This year, I will be voting Labour – and here is why:
The Tories believe that you should keep most of the money you earn. You’ve worked hard for it, and it is yours. You will have to pay directly for more and more services with that earned money, and because you can do this, the public sector doesn’t need quite so much to keep going. In an ideal Conservative world, the economy thrives as people pump more and more of their earned money into businesses that provide the services you need. If you are rich, or planning on becoming rich, this system works. Business owners love this system, because they get to keep more and more of their profits. You pay for exclusive schooling because you can afford it, and you pay for private healthcare. I can understand how this works for many people, and why they like this system, but I believe that it is inherently flawed. In an economically competitive world, where some will become very rich, some will inevitably be very poor. And what happens to those people? How do they survive in a world where public services are depleted? A Conservative system is all about survival of the fittest, and a race for more and more wealth. You become a selfish member of society. Never mind anyone else, what about ME ME ME???
I believe that the more you earn, the more you should be paying to be a part of the bigger society. If you are lucky enough to be earning millions, then you should be paying your way to maintain and support the nation. You should be pleased to be able to help support those who aren’t doing as well as you. Wealth is a privilege, not a right. The taxes skimmed off the top of the rich go towards supporting public services, meaning the more the rich earn, the better off everybody will be. Better schools for everyone, better hospitals for everyone, and a general ethos of equality and wanting to help your fellow man. A Labour system acknowledges that some people will be poor, and that this isn’t necessarily their fault. You know what? Some people don’t want to be staggeringly rich. For some people – more than you would think – wealth doesn’t equal happiness. A vast amount of people in this country work to get by, and are perfectly fine not straining for more and more. Does this mean that their kids don’t deserve to go to good schools? Or if they have a heart attack, they aren’t entitled to quality healthcare? I believe that we can all work together to move forward as a nation, regardless of how much money we earn.
This is a brief and rather crude outline of left and right leaning economics. It may even be a little bit flawed – I’m not an expert, but after all the reading and the conversations I’ve had lately, I think I’ve got it mostly right (please feel free to comment and correct me!).
A Conservative government works brilliantly if you’re a business owner, an employer of people, or someone who likes luxury cars, two holidays a year and weekends away in the country. But not everybody is like this. I’m not so selfish. I like to think that when (if) I do become rich and famous from my writing, that I will want to pay a higher rate of tax, because I know that it would mean that I’m supporting those less well off than me. I would want to contribute to the greater good of society, and not be selfish with my earnings.
So there we are. I’m a raging leftie. I’m a poor, impoverished artist with a chronic health condition, who relies on the state for support. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m a socialist, but I don’t think that the pursuit of wealth is necessarily a motivating factor for me. In fact, when I come across people for whom money is everything, I find it quite an ugly trait.
This isn’t to say that I’m a fan of Miliband. To be perfectly honest, I actually warm to Clegg more than anyone, but we should all remember that we’re electing a party and not a person. We’re voting for an ideology – not a celebrity. And Conservative ideology is pretty damn ugly to me.
In a future Conservative world, the rich do get richer (which is great if you’re already rich!) but the poor get poorer. The gap between rich and poor gets wider. Those on the wrong side of the social tracks will always be struggling, and may never get to achieve their potential. This saddens me. I want a Labour government that supports me, and others like me, and if that means that the rich have to pay a smidgen more in tax then they should be thrilled to be rich enough to pay it! Pay it back to pay it forward.
I’ll finish this blog post by saying that I know that as they currently stand, our two main parties aren’t nearly as clear-cut as I’ve presented above. There are a vast number of complications and wider world problems that mean the waters between left and right become increasingly muddy. I wish it were simpler. I wish our politicians were honest, and answered our questions directly, and didn’t have such sketchy personalities. Plus there are other prescient issues, like immigration (definitely a good thing!), housing (we need more please!) and national independence (lets’s stay friends!) that have sway and influence away from the generalised party ideologies.
But there we have it. I’ll be voting Labour on Thursday, because I believe in the greater good, and because the astronomically rich in this country are getting off easy – making life inextricably harder for the poor.
Whoever you choose to vote for, please make sure you have your say. Make time on Thursday to actually physically vote – we may not feel like we have a say in this big scary world, but the truth is we do.
Vote, get involved, and have your say.