For some months the pace has gradually been accelerating with the pieces being moved on the political chess board and for the next now slightly less than three months we are all likely to be bombarded with claim and counter-claim by the different parties for our votes.
Whilst our 'first past the post' (FPTP) electoral system for UK general elections does usually provide a clear result, the last time in 2010 it did not and the polling information recently seems to indicate that it may provide a similarly inconclusive result this time too. A bid by coalition partner, the Liberal Democrats, to have a form of proportional representation ('Alternative Vote') put into law was decisively rejected in a referendum held during 2011. Personally I am very pleased that it was rejected, because I think the introduction of an Alternative Vote for general elections would have institutionalised coalitions, which I think would have been retrograde for our politics - I prefer to see the governing party, whichever it is, given a reasonably free hand to pursue its policies so that the results, good or bad, and who was responsible for them, can be more clearly seen and attributed.
In my particular constituency (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey) our current MP is a Liberal Democrat, the quite prominent cabinet minister in the coalition government, Danny Alexander MP. Anyone who has been reading my blog over the years will know that I am definitely not a Liberal Democrat, nor am I a supporter of this political party, but I am happy to acknowledge that the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition has been a moderate success and that Danny Alexander MP has played a fairly prominent role in this success, being No.2 in the Treasury and generally supportive of government policy. More recently he, and other Liberal Democrat MPs, have been keen to differentiate themselves from their Conservative colleagues and I think this is perfectly understandable ahead of the 2015 general election. I am, at the very least, grateful that we have had at least a partially-Conservative government these past almost five years, so that more rational policies have been implemented when compared with the many idiocies and plain incompetence of the previous awful Labour government. However, it is possible that a heavy electoral price may be exacted of the Liberal Democrats, according to the opinion polls, for their participation in the coalition government. I think this is grossly unfair, because at least they have helped save us from the disaster of another Labour government, something I am very happy about.
Nominations for the May 2015 general election have of course not yet closed, but so far (as at the time of writing) the 3 major UK national parties, Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats, plus the SNP and and the Green Party have chosen their candidates, but there may well be more candidates declared before nominations close. You can see the currently-known candidates in the YourNextMP website here:
- Alexander, Danny (Liberal Democrats);
- Hendry, Drew (Scottish National Party [SNP]);
- Mountain, Edward (Conservative Party);
- O'Reilly, Isla Macleod (Scottish Green Party);
- Robb, Mike (Labour Party).
Normally my voting decision would be pretty straightforward, I would vote for Edward Mountain for the Conservatives or perhaps abstain; basically I am a Conservative, but am no longer a member as a result of earlier anti-gay policies during the leadership of William Hague MP and his successor Iain Duncan Smith MP and, to a lesser extent during the leadership of the Scottish Conservatives of the late David McLetchie. However, although I have not rejoined the Conservatives as a member, their earlier anti-gay policies have been abandoned and replaced by an altogether more positive range of policies and actions, even if some of their MPs and MSPs remain as anti-gay as ever they were; within Scotland (the area that obviously concerns me most directly) there are a number of similarly and notoriously anti-gay SNP MSPs, a fact that the SNP doesn't really like to talk about and whenever the topic has been raised by me in the past I have been howled down by irate SNP supporters (aka 'dupes' and/or 'shameless apologists)'. Their are fewer similar Labour and no or almost no Liberal Democrats, to the best of my knowledge. Of course, there are other issues beyond 'gay rights', I readily accept, but this is a matter of such fundamental importance for basic human rights that I make no apology for awarding it a certain prominence - tough if anyone reading this takes issue!
Beyond that of course, I am for free enterprise and against any form of 'socialism' or 'collectivism' because 'socialism' and similar philosophies have produced such abysmal results wherever in the world they have been tried, it really is the archetypal 'dead parrot' of political philosophies so far as I am concerned! (with acknowledgement to 'Monty Python').
Anyway, where does this leave me and my voting decision for the forthcoming general election? I could vote for the Conservative Edward Mountain quite happily, but being realistic he is likely to garner only between 13 and 16% of the vote (worst and best case scenarios based on recent history) and is 'highly unlikely' to be elected as our next MP, even if he manages to increase the vote somewhat; that is the harsh reality, sadly; here is the result at the 2010 general election to illustrate this. So under an FPTP system those 6 to 7 or 8,000 votes are effectively wasted. The two likely realistic alternativea to the Liberal Democrats in this constituency are Labour or the SNP (formerly we had a Labour MP and our current MSP is from the SNP, for example); I would find either very unpalatable, but based on recent opinion polls the main 'danger' seems to come from the SNP and I certainly wish to avoid that outcome at all costs - so my present intention would be, through somewhat gritted teeth, to vote for Danny Alexander of the Liberal Democrats. The question that those who would normally vote Conservative need to ask themselves is - do you really want to see the SNP (or potentially Labour) win in this constituency? Given that it is highly unlikely (i.e. next to impossible) that a Conservative can realistically have any hope of winning here, would you rather have one of the unholy duo of the SNP or Labour win or would it not be less unpalatable to have a Liberal Democrat instead? Honestly? I know some will find my arguments anathema - but don't come complaining to me on the morning of Friday 8th May 2015 if instead we have an SNP or Labour MP, when some of the usual 6 or 7,000 Conservative votes could have been more usefully directed to the Liberal Democrats. I have never met Edward Mountain and if I thought he had a realistic chance of winning would happily vote for him, so I hope he will forgive me for writing so candidly about my feelings.