The 2017 Election Cometh…

Well, despite bringing in fixed five-year terms for governments as recently as 2011, we’re now looking at a General Election in 2017, a mere two years since the last time.

I ought to be suggesting that this is wrong, but there have been a huge number of major incidents in the political world in the past 24 months, so I doubt anybody is really surprised.

We’ve seen bigotry and lies win a US Presidential Election (with no little help from the Russians) and the same approach (sadly filled with half-truths on both sides) resulted in a narrow victory for the Leave campaign in the EU referendum last year. What we saw following both of these results has been an upsurge in hate crimes – not because there are more people who think that way, but those that do clearly feel their views have somehow been validated by the results. And maybe they have.

I’ve been in a difficult position as a result. A life-long, and until 2016 a card-carrying conservative, I’ve been unable to commit to any of the major parties. and here’s why:

I believe that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being rich (not that I am anywhere near that state) because if you work hard to achieve your goals, it’s perfectly fine that you should get the rewards that come with that success. So economically, I lean slightly to the right. But with that privilege comes responsibility, which many appear to ignore.

I also believe that if you are at the other end of the ‘health and wealth’ spectrum, and if you need support and assistance, you should get it. In a developed nation, nobody should be in the position of needing to choose between food and heating. Or not getting a prescription filled because they don’t have the money for their medicine. Which means that socially, I’m a little to the left. I also feel absolutely that cheating the system to get money you’re actually not entitled to and don’t need, takes money from those that do need it, and should be stomped on hard.

I’m certainly not in favour of ‘big’ government. Certain things (such as who we love, marry, read, talk to, pray to or what we wear) are not the business of government and should not be legislated – either to promote or to suppress.

None of the main parties agree with that. There’s really no ‘centre’ party these days that tries to strike the right balance, allowing aspiration and success in a caring, responsible, inclusive society. Rather, they try to push people to one or other of the extremes.

With the Conservatives moving to push UKIP even further right, and Labour abandoning any pretense of the centre ground in favour of a more hard-line left wing socialist agenda, there’s a huge gap right where we ought to be building Government. The Liberal Democrats have singularly failed to fill that gap, being as they are a party that advocates tax rises (thereby alienating the centre-right) and failing to address the needs of the most vulnerable (thereby shutting the door on the centre-left) by focusing on issues such as Trident and Nuclear Disarmament over things such as housing and education. Honestly – what do the Lib Dems think about either of these things? I don’t have a clue, so bad are they at appealing to voters.

In Scotland, the rise of the SNP shows a nationalistic streak that points to both a rejection of Westminster and a jingoistic attitude towards anyone not born north of the wall – far more divisive than inclusive.

And nobody except the Lib Dems seem to share my concerns about our pending departure from the EU at breakneck speed. Given that this is about the only thing they have communicated, I doubt anybody can claim to vote for them with any level of intelligence.

So where do I go? I will always vote, for several reasons. many people don’t have that right, and many people have sacrificed themselves to safeguard it for us all. Plus – if you vote, you can moan. You can complain. You can voice dissent. If you don’t bother to vote, you effectively lose that right. So I’ll be voting.

In my constituency, ‘protest’ votes won’t make any real difference, seeing as my local MP is also the Prime Minister and is never going to lose. However, there’s the opportunity to send a clear message. One that says that the people who elect her expect representation, and expect their voices to be heard.

As such, I’m fortunate to have an Independent standing locally whose agenda closely matches my own thoughts. Success is good. Care for those who need it. Look after the vulnerable. Live lives in freedom rather than in fear.

For an insight that is probably worded better than this missive, check out Grant’s website at https://grantsmithformp.org/

Whoever you vote for – make sure it’s because you agree with their politics and their opinions. Don’t waste this opportunity to have your say. And make it a positive time.

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