Sunday 3 November 2019

Late night ill-advised political rantings.

Part One: Why you should vote

There is a General Election on the 12th of December. If you aren’t registered to vote or, your not sure if you are registered to vote go here

It’s a really weird time for an election and some groups might find it difficult to get out to the polls. Undergraduates will be breaking up for Christmas around then and need to be really clear about at what address they are registered to vote at (and yes, it is illegal to vote twice). Also, people with mobility issues might have problems getting out if we get a snap of cold weather. Be aware. Make a plan. Get out and vote.

This is really important for a number of reasons. First of all and selfishly being registered to vote helps your credit rating as lenders use the electoral roll as one of the ways of confirming who you are.

Also, politics impacts everything. From the price of a pint to prison conditions; it’s kind of daft to opt-out of it but I’ll tackle two of the main arguments I have seen from people:

‘I am some kind of flavour of anarchist and voting legitimises a system I don’t agree with.’
Okay. I get it. Some people have a genuine moral objection to voting because casting a vote legitimises a government they dream of toppling. I get that. I have I want to bring all this crashing down days too.  I’d implore you to find the least bad party in your opinion and vote for them. If you really can’t deal with that because voting implies consent to a social contract and you want to sit in your volcano layer with automatic weapons and not be bothered by ‘the man’ (again, I sympathise). At least will you go and spoil your ballot paper? Please? Go draw a sad dog, or a phallus or a poem about bacon or the ever-popular ‘None of the above’. Whatever floats your train. Why? Because spoiled ballots are at least tallied and reported. In theory, a massive spike in spoiled ballots might make the people in power take notice.

I understand that sometimes a principal prevents one from voting I myself would note vote in an election where I was required to show an ID card, because in the words of Harry Willcock I am a Liberal, and I am against this sort of thing. But I wouldn’t use that as an excuse to stay at home, I would go to the polling station to demand my right to vote without having to present papers. I think that as a middle-class professional, I am well placed to flex my social capital in this regard. This tangent dealt with it is really important to state that: You will not be required to show ID in order to vote in the election on the 12th of December (Except in Northen Ireland)

‘I live in one of the safest seats going so my vote is totally irrelevant’
We have an FPTP System. It’s trash. You can see a really good explainer of why it’s trash here. In fact, just watch all of Grays videos, you will become more informed about many important things. Briefly, the MP who gets the most votes in a seat wins, and all those other votes are ‘wasted’. This causes a number of issues but one is to make safe seats even safer. If you are one of the few conservative voters in Liverpool Walton, for example, there is little motivation to go and vote for your candidate of choice because you know labour will win and therefore that time could be better spent doing almost anything. I’d just like to point out that vote percentages matter. For two reasons.

Reason the first: They can bring electoral pressure. In 2015 UKIP gained a fairly massive 13% of all votes cast. However, because of FPTP, they won one seat. Clacton. In contrast, the SNP got 4.7% of the total vote and returned 56 MP’s the Liberal Democrats won 7.9% of the total vote and returned 8 MP’s. However, I don’t think we would have got the Brexit Referendum at all if 2015 UKIP had not won 13% of the vote share. Those UKIP voters outside of Clacton did, in fact, achieve a political aim through voting.

Reason the second: It makes the system look bad which is a good thing if like me you want to see it reformed to a more representative system where the percentage of votes a party gets more directly translates into the percentage of MP’s they get. If we have a big disparity between what people voted for and what they got, we get closer to a better system because there is a story for the media to talk about. Please don’t stay home just because you think voting for your party of choice is a waste of time.

As another aside.

Tactical voting. Tactical voting is the practice whereby you don’t vote for the minor party you like, because you instead vote for the major party most likely to beat the major party you hate. I think this is a deeply personal choice. I think if the party you hate is really that abhorrent to you that you feel like you have no choice, I mean. I feel bad for you first of all, because that must be a horrible feeling. Personally, though, I don’t think tactical voting is the right answer for the reasons I outlined about not voting in safe seats. It hides the fundamental problems of FPTP and it ignores the fact that vote share can lead to meaningful changes.  Also if the party you tactically vote for wins, they will justify things that they do by quoting the percentage of people who voted for them. And your stomach will turn every time.

Part two: Why I am voting conservative this time.
I am not a lifelong conservative voter. I did not vote Conservative in the last election, or in the election before that.  In this upcoming election, however, I will be voting conservative.

What’s my aim here? Is it to persuade people? Partly, perhaps. However, I don’t think I’m good at that. I can never seem to find the words to make my worldview click in other people’s heads.  I’m pretty good at expressing myself for an insular nerd but that is (to borrow a phrase) a bit like being known as the tallest of the Seven Dwarfs. I’m just looking to set out my own views, to make sure they make sense in my own head. Also, because actually, I’m open to discussion and debate. It’s rare for people to have genuine changes of heart. I have. When I was a teenager, I was basically an authoritarian who thought everyone needed to be made to be good. Then I moved way, way, way down the Y-axis of the pollical compass.

The case for the Conservatives

Boris Johnson has achieved an agreed Brexit deal which actually does the things Brexit was supposed to do. It gets us out of the customs union. It gets us out of the jurisdiction of the European Courts. It gets us out of the disastrous Agricultural and Fisheries policies which actively harm the UK. He did something which basically everyone said was impossible, and now he needs a majority to get it through parliament so we can actually move on to the next (and more interesting) step of the process.

The case for Brexit

I’ve done this before at great length, but if my argument is that a vote for the Conservative Party is effectively a vote for Boris Johnsons deal then I do at least briefly need to cover why I think Brexit is a good thing.

I consider myself a Liberal, but to communicate effectively on the Internet I have to use the label Libertarian. Essentially I really dislike government. I think that individuals are really important and that we should make as few collective decisions as possible because collective decision making leads to stuff happening against the will of the minority group. To some extent, society entails curtailing the rights of others. And while we might all be fine wither curtailing the freedom of vandals to destroy a bus shelter it gets a bit ropey when you are stopping people from buying certain kinds of lightbulbs.  

I’m not actually an Anarcho-capitalist (except after 5 beers) I do understand that we need a form of government. But I want it to be as localised and accountable as possible. The bigger the demos (as in the people who can vote for something) the more people will be unhappy with the result.

To give an example. Let's say you are going out for dinner with your mates and you vote on were to go an eat. You really want pizza, but your friends end up voting for Chinese. That’s fine, right. I mean first of all because you have a kinship with your friends, you share a lot of the same values and while you differ on this, more unites you then divides you and you are quite happy with there choice.

Now, what happens if you make everyone in a city vote each day on what everyone is allowed to eat. I mean I really hope you like McDonald's. It’s going to get the most votes every time. Even if no one you know likes McDonald's, that’s the thing that’s been decided, so that’s what you are going to eat. And you can try and make your argument that, hey, we had McDonald's last time guys and can we do something different for a change. The demos is too big. They don’t really care about you, you can’t really reach them effectively, and you are one of many dissenting voices all asking for contradictory things. It becomes *oppressive*.

So it is with Europe. Nation-states have different national characters. Not better. Not worse. But different. To give one example. In France, they don’t have Jury trials. In this country that is a cherished thing. It comes from history and the Roman Justice System vs the Common Law justice system but the point is when we don’t agree on something as fundamental as that with our closest European Neighbour it becomes really hard for me to understand the arguments that say ‘everyone is basically the same and there is some magic shared template for what will make all humans happy’. Because you can’t even (and I’ve made this argument a lot and never gotten a response) solve the common law vs roman law thing. Never mind the awkward question about how appropriate it is to have a Royal Family. I mean. That’s *just France* our closest neighbour. The EU includes places like Hungary. Go and read about Viktor Orban’s Hungary and then come back and tell me that what Hungarians want is in some way harmonious with what British people want.

‘But- I have real friends in real jobs who will be made worse off by Brexit, you heartless bastard.’
Yes. I do in fact empathise, but you have to understand that this is an argument for never changing the status quo ever. Whenever the status quo has changed the people who are doing well currently risk doing less well under the new order. You can’t refuse to ever change anything to keep the people who are comfortable now comfortable because if we followed that argument, we would still have indentured servants.  Or Slavery. Or the Feudal system. Sometimes you have to look at a situation and go. Ah yes, the complex philosophical and moral arguments outweigh the problem of upsetting the current status quo.

The Case for Boris

But Boris though. Boris. He’s a liar a charlatan a cheat a womaniser. He once caved to pressure from his friend to plot to have a journalist beaten up.

I get it. I do. He’s not the person you want.  The person you want is some idealised notion of the perfect moral paragon. For whatever your individualised morality entails.

Let me say that people with strong ideological grounding are fucking dangerous. They do terrible and unpopular things like invading Iraq because their own personal moral compasses say that it’s the right thing to do.

Boris will reliably do the things that make Boris the most comfortable. The man is a moral void. The thing of it is that what makes him the most comfortable is being Prime Minister, and to be Prime Minister you have to do the things that make people want to vote for you. Isn’t that the function of a democracy? To have someone who will just do the thing the people want them to do while being agile enough (you could say slippery enough if you wanted to be mean) to change position to get that popular thing done. A strong ideological bent is a significant handicap. Look Boris got a deal reopened and changed that everyone and their mother said wouldn’t be reopened and changed because he didn’t have weird ideological red lines. It is, undoubtedly a Nixon to China moment.

Personally, I actually quite like that Boris has vices. Vices make someone seem human. It’s very human to help your friend even when you know what they are asking you to do is wrong. It’s also very human to have affairs and to tell lies. People who present like some sort of perfect messiah weird me out. Makes you wonder what secrets they have because everyone has vices guys. Everyone makes choices they would rather you didn’t know about. At least we know with Boris what we are getting.

The case against the Labour party.

The Labour party’s Brexit policy is a masterful exercise in doublethink. As best as I understand they want to negotiate a deal to leave the EU but remain in the customs union. Which incidentally, would just be worse than remaining in every possible way. Then, they would campaign against there terrible deal in a second referendum – which I assume they would win. It’s bizarre that anyone thinks that is reasonable.

The bigger problem here is that Jeremy Corbyn is everything Boris isn’t. He’s a principled man who wants to follow through on his principals regardless of the outcome. To take just one example because I am nearing the 2500 wordmark.

Incidentally, if you have read this far and not just skipped to the end I would like to buy you a drink for your trouble. The password is albatross and entitles you to one single-serving alcoholic beverage of your choice.

To take just one example. Corbyn is for unilateral nuclear disarmament. Which basically means he’s got as far as ‘nuclear weapons are bad’ and decided we shouldn’t have any. He’s on record as saying he wouldn’t authorise there use. So, Ironically, under a Corbyn Government, the world becomes more likely to fire off nuclear bombs.

The system works because everyone has bombs. So everyone *knows* for a *fact* that if they use their nukes, they will get nuked back. It’s called mutually assured destruction and even though it abbreviates to ‘MAD’ it has successfully prevented us all getting immolated in a nuclear fireball to date.

I mean. I realise it probably sounds like I have gone off the deep end ranting and raving about nuclear bombs. I sound like some kind of wannabe Slim Pickings obsessed with nukes. But It’s like. To someone like me the Defence of the Realm is the most legitimate governmental function. I don’t understand why ‘but he might inadvertently start a nuclear war by being a misguided ideologue’ isn’t the final argument I think it should be.

The Case against the Liberal Democrats

Look. If you really just want to stop Brexit. And that’s all you care about. And I haven’t persuaded you with my amazing argument about the size and kinship of the demos being important then. You must vote for the Liberal Democrats.

However, I do feel like pointing out that the Liberal Democrats are on record as saying they want to overturn the referendum result on day one of being in government. Which isn’t very democratic.

They have also let some interesting people join as MP’s. Including Philip Lee, who is against same-sex marriage and ram a campaign to bar people with HIV from coming into the UK. But it’s okay, he’s a remainer. That doesn’t seem very Liberal.

If you want to vote for the yellow stop Brexit party, vote for the yellow stop Brexit party. But don’t delude yourself that they have any other principles. They seem to me to have abandoned them all.

The case against the Brexit Party

Nigel. I mean. He can never be satisfied with any Brexit because as soon as we have an agreeable Brexit he loses any continuing relevance. I can’t comprehend the people who think that no deal is better than Boris’ deal. This is a deal that delivers Brexit in a safe and sensible way. I think Nigel just can’t let the limelight go and is becoming more and more extreme in his view to ensuring he is a distinctive and relevant voice. The minute he admits he has achieved his aims, the minute he has to disappear from public life.

That’s It. I’m done. That’s 3000 words of probably utter bollocks. But better out than in.

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