miss_s_b: (Mood: Liberal)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
In this case, a specific person has asked the question. My friend TeaKay is a very intelligent boy, but he is politically disinterested. He feels guilty about it, and wants me to persuade him to vote Lib Dem. Well, technically, he said:
A challenge to anyone of a vaguely political nature who happens by this post. That challenge can be summed up in just two words:

Sway me

I am a blank canvas. Convince me that your party is the one for me; the one next to which I should place my pencilled 'X' come voting day.
Which means that anyone reading this who is a member of another party is welcome to have a go too. I'd be interested to see the Green response, for starters.

Anyway, I am going to divide this up into two parts:

1, Why you should vote at all

I'm going to say something shocking here: if you live in a safe seat, and you're not filled with a burning passion for one or other party, don't bother. Seriously. It's not worth it. If you are filled with a burning enthusiasm for one or other party, then fill your boots, because it all adds to their national vote share. But don't kid yourself that it will count towards who becomes your constituency MP in our ridiculous and outmoded voting system.

So the first thing you need to do is find out which constituency you live in. When you have the name of it, stick it into Wikipedia and bring up the page for it, which will give you a list of old election results. Mine is Calder Valley, and if you look at the voting tables you will see that it's a marginal constituency, which means it matters how people vote here. So, in Calder Valley at least, even those with even the slightest interest in how our affairs are governed can make a difference. Mat's friend Adrian first won his seat on a majority of 12 votes. In a marginal seat, every vote counts. If, on the other hand, the maths says you're in a safe seat? You might as well shove your own head up your arse unless you want to add to the pressure to change the voting system to one in which every vote counts, and there's no such thing as a safe seat, in which case, you should vote Lib Dem even if they have no chance of winning in your seat. We're the only ones who want to do that. We believe in truly giving the power back to individuals; that's the whole point of Liberalism.

2, Why (else) you should vote Liberal Democrat

I'm tempted to just say buy this book, and you'll find out, but I think TeaKay wants something a bit more substantive than look which celebrities endorse us! - although he is around my age, so if he's not swayed even a little by Floella Benjamin... ;) - and besides, all the other parties have their own version. Even UKIP.

So, lets look at the policy areas TeaKay says he is interested in:
  1. Education (particularly mathematics, and from the point of view of classroom teachers).

    This is because (can you guess?) TeaKay is a Maths teacher. The bare bones of our education policies can be found in this .pdf file. From the point of view of a classroom teacher, the commitment to end micromanaging of the curriculum by government would be the one I would welcome. This is something the Liberal DEmocrats do in more than just education: we are commited to giving away power as soon as we are elected to it. This is because, as Liberals, we believe that the best people to decide what to do with local schools/hospitals/communities/etc. are local people; just as the best person to decide who should spend your money is you.

  2. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics in general.

    We're committed to the proper funding of science, if that's what you're asking about. I won't lie, sometimes our party spokespeople get it wrong on science. However, when that happens, the great mass of geeks and nerds and Doctor Who fans which comprise our membership rise up and slap them down and make them change it till it's right. This has recently been best illustrated by what happened with the Digital Economy Bill, which you can read a fabulous summary of here, should you so wish.

    We are the only major party which has an evidence-based and democratic approach to policy-making. This means that on the rare occasions we (as a party) get it wrong, the policy can be changed by any interested member putting forward a motion to conference. If you have the evidence on your side, I guarantee you that conference will listen, and party policy will change. I've seen it happen. The other two major parties formulate policy on the basis of what the leadership think will appeal to swing voters in marginal seats. We formulate policy on the basis of what we think is right, having considered the evidence. Scientific method, we has it.

  3. Not having to pay for things I don't use (i.e. paying extra taxes to fix roads I don't drive on).

    Well, your local roads are the responsibility of your local council, so in that sense they shouldn't really have a bearing on how you vote in a general election. However, one thing I will reiterate is that Lib Dems want to decentralise power to local councils, local education boards, to individuals where possible. Several of our shadow departments only exist in order to abolish themselves when we get into power. This means smaller government, and (certainly in the long run) lower taxes. I'd also point out that we'd raise the income tax threshold to £10,000, which means that the first ten grand everybody earns is totally tax free, so you'd be paying less for everything whether you use it or not.

  4. Religion (particularly crowbarring it away from decision making for important, real-world, non-imaginary things).

    Two words: Evan Harris. To be a bit less flippant: there is some kowtowing to the religious lobby in the Lib Dems, but much less than in the other two major parties. An amendment to an education policy which would have made it party policy to abolish faith schools (put forward by two activists from my own consituency) only just failed at spring conference last year. Contrast that with the record Labour have in government of sucking up to faith groups, and the Tories, who are home to The Cornerstone Group, which wants to bring back the rule of the church, ban gay unions, and various other traditional moral positions.

    Coupled with our lower level of religious nutters, we would have wholesale reform of the house of lords, which would entail the removal of bishops from the legislature. Removing bishops from the Lords has GOT to be a plan, right?

    The quote I have from the party's constitution in my sidebar actually has a bearing on this, too. The bit about nobody being enslaved by ignorance, poverty or conformity is not just a staement of our commitment to everyone being as free as possible. The conformity bit originally was put in there for religious motives, by religious non-conformists. We don't believe in a state religion. We don't believe that anyone should be made to follow a religion they don't want to, and this follows for our deeply religious members as it does for the atheist ones like me.

I would add a couple more reasons to those outlined above: if you want to make sure that everyone's vote counts, that there's no such thing as a safe seat which breeds corrupt MPs, and that we've got someone who can not only find his arse with both hands but is actually a qualified economist in charge of the economy, there really is only one choice. No other party advocates STV in multi-member constituencies, and no other party has Vince. And even if (Cthulhu forbid) something should happen to Vince, FIVE more economists and a tax accountant to consult. As compared to the totally unqualified chancellor we currently have, and the totally unqualified shadow chancellor the tories have lined up in the wings.

I hope that goes a little way towards swaying you, TeaKay, but if you have any questions, feel free to ask and I'll try to answer. And if anyone from another party wants to have a go at persuading him to vote for them, well, I'm a Liberal, so I won't complain. Click here to see his original post.

Next in this series: Why Should I vote Lib Dem? Part 2: I Live in Islington South and Finsbury, which I have been promising Bridget Fox I will do for her for AGES now... And if anybody else wants a personalised manifesto, leave a comment with your constituency name and up to three policy areas you are interested in and I'll give it a shot.

My March sponsor is Mark Reckons. He votes Lib Dem too.

Date: Tuesday, March 16th, 2010 01:08 am (UTC)
stormsearch: (Default)
From: [personal profile] stormsearch
I was going to contact you and ask for something similar! We're in Edinburgh, Scotland, and I was chatting to family at the weekend about politics. A frequent complaint was, "I don't want to vote Conservative, but I have to, because Brown and Labour absolutely cannot be allowed another term. It's the only sure way to get them out."

I discussed that actually the Lib Dems are only 2 points behind in the polls, but what else can I say to make sure they have all the information to make the right decision? I'm a bit lost as to where to start - I don't think it's necessary to vote Tory to get Labour out - at least, not with the fervour and desperation I encountered at the weekend.

Date: Tuesday, March 16th, 2010 01:55 am (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
Which seat in Edinburgh? In at least one, it's a Labour/Lib Dem marginal, the only difference a vote makes is in electing the individual MP, if it's that seat, voting Tory helps Labour by splitting the opposition vote.

Just as where I grew up, voting Labour helps the Tories.

Date: Tuesday, March 16th, 2010 05:39 am (UTC)
djm4: (Default)
From: [personal profile] djm4
An amendment to an education policy which would have made it party policy to abolish faith schools (put forward by two activists from my own consituency) only just failed at spring conference last year.

I can't speak for anyone else, but IIRC the reason that I voted against that amendment was that it called for the abolition of all faith schools, not just state-funded ones. I don't personally think that the state has any business abolishing non-state-funded faith schools.

(I've no idea whether the drafters of the amendment worded the amendment badly, or whether they actually wanted to do this. Perhaps you know. I wouldn't be surprised if an amendment to phase out state-funded faith-based schools would have passed.)


Date: Tuesday, March 16th, 2010 10:55 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I was wondering about this when I read the note above. I'd be slightly surprised if the Liberals couldn't pass an amendment banning faith schools on public money: but I'm slightly surprised that the Liberals even proposed one which banned private schools from doing their own thing.


Date: Tuesday, March 16th, 2010 02:18 pm (UTC)
sashajwolf: photo of Blake with text: "reality is a dangerous concept" (Default)
From: [personal profile] sashajwolf
Yes - I'd have voted for the amendment with that change/clarification, too, and as you know, I'm one of your deeply-religious Lib Dems. I also think it's worth noting that the policy we did pass would go a long way towards ending faith-based selection in state-funded schools, and had the backing of the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum as well as the Humanist & Secularist Liberal Democrats. I love being in a party where those two groups can work together effectively.

Date: Tuesday, March 16th, 2010 07:40 am (UTC)
freddiefraggles: (me - b&w)
From: [personal profile] freddiefraggles
I have just found out that I'm in the Corby constituency, after a long protracted search of the internet. upmystreet.com doesn't exactly make it easy to tell me what constituency I'm in, does it?

Wikipedia suggests it's a marginal seat, but basically, this lot used to vote Tory and then went to Labour in '97. Lib Dem doesn't really get a look in, but I will vote. If you don't vote, you have no right to say "This government are rubbish!" because you didn't do anything to make a change.

Date: Tuesday, March 16th, 2010 03:31 pm (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
Oh blimey. Louise Bagshaw's target seat. She gets on telly a lot because she's famous (apparently).

Odds are she's almost certainly won that seat, but there's a small chance the Labour vote will collapse so much that the LDs come second. Very unlikely, but...

Date: Tuesday, March 16th, 2010 08:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tommybblog.blogspot.com
You're not a million miles away from me... In fact, you're probably about 9 miles away.

Date: Tuesday, March 16th, 2010 05:28 pm (UTC)
etoile: (Default)
From: [personal profile] etoile
I wish I could bring myself to be interested in politics these days but nothing grabs me. I fear I have slipped into the stupid mindset of "I'm going to get screwed over regardless" and so the apathy has set in big time. I fail. :(

Oh and I live in a constituency that's been Labour since 1945 and now I'm not even sure my token grandfather spiting non-Tory vote will help anything. Blarrrrrrrgh.

Date: Friday, March 19th, 2010 10:35 am (UTC)
denny: Photo of me wearing my beloved silly hat.  It's wuzzy! (Default)
From: [personal profile] denny
You're not in one of the Hackney constituencies are you? I'm running in Hackney South against WWII incumbents... it's a bit depressing how some of the seats are so static.

Date: Friday, March 19th, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
etoile: (Default)
From: [personal profile] etoile
Wee bit further north than that, I'm in Queensbury which apparently comes under Bradford South :)

Date: Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010 01:23 am (UTC)
burkesworks: (Default)
From: [personal profile] burkesworks
Well, in which case you must vote Lib Dem if only for the fact that my friend Alun the Prog Rock Fan is the candidate. He probably won't beat Gerry but there's no harm in helping him try!

Date: Tuesday, March 16th, 2010 08:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] crashmatt.livejournal.com
I've voted Lib Dem in each of the general elections I've been eligible to vote in, local government has had a rather more mixed, some times tactical, history.

I'm not interested in politics as such, I want the country to run well, and am happy to entrust this to others with the interest and enthusiasm to do so. To all those that take an interest and engage in politics, you have my sincere thanks.

As for voting this time, I will almost certainly vote Lib Dem, but I will confess this is more out of habit than any burning passion. I will not vote UKIP or BNP as I am utterly disgusted by what they represent.

I'm very unlikely to vote labour, partly due to a lingering disgust regarding the Iraq war, but also other things. The consistent and unrelenting war on civil liberties (just how many new statutes have they passed?), the lack of anything resembling backbone against the religious right, and so on.

The Tories, again unlikely. Economically, they would probably be the best for me as an individual, in both the short and medium term, but for others? I am a child of the Thatcher years, and I don't want anyone to have to live through that again. The values and cultural mores of the Conservatives are not something I wish to support or encourage.

The Greens? No. Not for any great ideological reasons, but simple practicality. I come from a farming background, and whilst I have moved about as far from that as possible, all of my family are still involved in agriculture and farming in some regard. Unless the Greens have made a massive shift in policy since I last investigated, then to vote Green would, for me, being spitting on my family and heritage. Although having just looked, there is no Green candidate standing in my borough.

Monster Raving Loony? Might as well save myself the journey!

If you find the time I'd be interested to see why you might suggest I vote Lib Dem, although I would place myself low on the priority list, as I almost certainly will anyway :D - South Derbyshire, civil liberties (photographers treated as terrorists, gay partnerships, assisted suicide etc), scientific research (partly on a funding point of view, partly on a regulatory point of view, e.g. stem cells) and the economy (will we have high taxes and retain public services, low taxes and no services, how are they going to run things?).

Ta :)

Date: Friday, March 19th, 2010 10:36 am (UTC)
denny: Photo of me wearing my beloved silly hat.  It's wuzzy! (Default)
From: [personal profile] denny
just how many new statutes have they passed

Roughly one new law a day for the last 13 years. A bit less, but not so much as to make it an unfair approximation.


Date: Tuesday, March 16th, 2010 08:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tommybblog.blogspot.com
Many thanks for the response! Much food for thought. Now all I need is for supporters of rival parties to do the same and I'll have something to go on.

A possibly controversial idea for some future date (but it fits my warped way of thinking about things): Given my priorities as stated in my original post, what reasons can you think of for me, personally, /not/ to vote for your party?

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