Wednesday, 5 May 2010

I know that I'm an Anarchist, but I'm gonna vote!

I know that Anarchism advocates the abolition of governments and condemns voting, but I've nevertheless decided to vote in the upcoming General Election in Britain, this May 6th! I registered both myself and my mother exactly on the 20th April deadline! I printed out the forms for me and mum which we both signed on the 19th in the evening, and I handed it on the next day at Luton Borough Council. And just so you know, this will be my first time! Yippee!!

I live in Luton North, which has been headed by Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins since the 1997 General Election, an event I remember very well in which Labour won a landslide victory and ousted the Tories from power! (I was 11 at the time and full of enthusiasm for Labour!)

Luton South has also had a Labour MP for as many years by the name of Margaret Moran. She has become infamous throughout the country for spending £22,500 of taxpayers' money to sort out dry rot (!) at her house in Southampton, around 70 miles away from her constituency in Luton South!

So with all the election campaigning in recent weeks by the three main parties and other national/regional and nationalist far-right parties, I've also been figuring out which part to vote for.

I come from a pro-socialist, therefore pro-Labour family. My late father Stevo always voted Labour, and my mother likewise. I have yet to vote in my life, but I am likewise inclined towards voting for Labour. However, I'm not a hardcore Labour supporter; I'm also inspired by the Liberal Democrat party.

Throughout this campaign, I've been supportive of quite a few Liberal Democrat promises, particularly the promise to raise the tax threshold to £10,000, thus allowing a lot of people on lower wages to keep much more of their income than they do now. This is a truly impressive election promise, and who knows, it might actually save a lot of people a lot of money if it were implemented.

However, I've come to the conclusion that the problem with voting Lib Dem in the constituency of Luton North is that, I believe, it is a very safe Labour seat, and therefore, as the electoral system in this anglophonic country is First Past the Post, my vote for the Lib Dem would be useless in Luton North. However, if I was living in Luton South, then my vote for the Lib Dems would stand a chance, and could actually help the Lib Dems win that seat.

By the way, Luton South is contested by 12 candidates, twice more than Luton North (see here)! Among the candidates for Luton South is the famous TV presenter and ChildLine founder Esther Rantzen, who claims to have fallen in love with Luton and hopes to bring over friends like Andrew Lloyd Webber to help develop the Arts and Music scene in the town, which I likewise think would be a brilliant idea (she said so herself on THE POLITICS SHOW on BBC 1, Sunday, 2nd May, see here).

If the voting system was such in this country that it was all about the parties rather than the seats, i.e. Proportional Representation (PR), I would vote Lib Dem this election (which is something the Lib Dems are actually calling for). However, we don't have such a system, which can be found in European countries and elsewhere in the world. Instead, we vote for candidates who represent constituencies, i.e. seats in the country's parliament. However, one serious problem with the current system is that someone can win a seat without attaining an absolute majority of votes.

And like I've explained above, living in Luton North as I do, my vote for the Labour party would be much more valuable, especially if we want to make sure that the Conservative party doesn't take power. The problem with the Tories is they would introduce numerous cuts in public services here and there as soon as they get in, which I don't believe would be good for this country's economy especially now that we've managed to rise out of economic recession.

Now don't get me wrong. I don't believe that a vote for the Lib Dems would bring the Tories in power. In fact, I find such a claim to be very cynical, and based on the belief that Tory voters form some kind of monolithic block, whose members "naturally" cannot vote for anyone else except the Conservatives!

And considering that the polls are very tight, it seems that a coalition government, which is reffered to as a "Hung parliament" in Britain, will likely have to be formed by two of the three parties that receive the most votes tomorrow. I also have to tell you that I find all these fear stories about hung parliaments/coalition governments really annoying. I think it might lead to more agreement between parties, and looking at Scotland's parliament in which the Scottish National Party head a minority government, a coalition might not be such a bad thing for the rest of the country.

And besides, Kelvin Hopkins MP has, during his campaign for this election and the previous one back in 2005, knocked on my house door and both times had a little chat with my mum! None of the other five candidates for Luton North have done so! And anyway, I think Kelvin is a decent guy who has done a relatively good job representing Luton for all these years.

Therefore, I know who I'm going to vote for tomorrow, i.e. May 6th, even though I would rather we lived in a world without borders and states. And my prediction of the outcome? Let me hazard a guess: a Labour-Lib Dem coalition!



Anonymous said...

Well done, getting there in time! We're in an intriguing situation in Bethnal Green and Bow, I'm starting to feel resigned to the sad prospect of a good Labour candidate going down with worm-eaten ship. However I've met the Lib Dem and Respect candidates and they both give the impression that they're reasonably live wires. It remains to be seen who'll get it and how they'll turn out in the end, but it's going to be wonderful not to have Galloway any more.

One of the important things about first past the post politics is that you get to have a constituency MP who you can go and lobby on important issues. I've had an unwanted holiday from lobbying for the last five years, but I'm looking forward to starting again because even if Rushinara Ali doesn't make it the new Respect candidate and the Lib Dem are both people you can talk to.

Canvassing is important - it makes a big difference being able to put the candidates to the test by asking them questions that are important to you.

Anonymous said...

Last night on Radio 4 I heard Luton North and Luton South described as the angel and the devil of the expenses affair. Kelvin Hopkins and Margaret Moran apparently live in the same street.

Balkan Ⓐnarchist said...

Ooh, I didn't realise they lived on the same street! But only one of them is still an MP now!

Yes, whereas Ms. Moran used thousands of pounds on tax payers money on a house that wasn't in her constituency, Mr Hopkins only used his expenses to pay for accomodation and travelling costs.

Nevertheless, I read a proposal somewhere that MPs from places like Luton will no longer be entitled to travel and accomodation allowances. A parliamentary watchdog is considering to widen the definition of which towns are in the vicinity of London, Westminster. This could mean that Luton North & South and many other constituencies will now be considered close enough to London not to warrant those MPs such allowances anymore.