I believed in tactical voting for 18 years: long enough to make a voter.
In the early morning of 10th April 1992, I stayed awake until it was clear that Labour would not win – that we were in for five more years of Tory government with a 21-seat majority. No one predicted that.
“Tactical voting is disgraceful. You should vote for your party of choice, in the sure and certain knowledge that doing so is a complete waste of time, and your voice will never be heard.”
In the realms of what-if: If Labour had won, and Neil Kinnock had become Prime Minister, would Tony Blair – then Shadow Secretary of State for Employment, soon to become Shadow Home Secretary – have succeeded in becoming Prime Minister? (Certainly not in 1992.) If Kinnock had still been Prime Minister in 2003, would he have lied to the House of Commons to get Labour to vote for a war in Iraq? That’s one of the great what-ifs of history – would any other Labour PM but Blair have committed this crime in order to have the UK follow the US into war with Iraq against the clear will of the British people? Would Black Wednesday have been such a disaster if Gordon Brown, not Norman Lamont, had been Chancellor? (Quite probably.) Would the NHS be lumbered with so many hugely expensive PFI hospitals if Kinnock had won in 1992? (Probably not.) Was the delay in the Northern Ireland peace process caused by John Major’s dependence on the DUP vote for confidence and supply?
On Thursday 7th May 2015, there will be a general election in the UK.
And then, short of hugely unlikely circumstances, there will not be another general election til 7th May 2020. (Or, with the approval of the House of Commons, any time up to two months later.)
There can only be a general election earlier than 7th May 2020 if either a majority vote in the Commons agrees “That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government” and a saving majority is not found within fourteen days: or if at least 434 MPs vote to call an early parliamentary general election.
Neither is a likely option. If a party can command the loyalty of 434 MPs they have a 109+ majority in the Commons and are very unlikely to want an early general election.
There were three women and two men in the Scottish Labour leadership contest: the media largely ignored Sarah Boyack, Kezia Dugdale, and Katy Clark: most of the mainstream publicity I saw treated the contest as if it were a race between two men, Jim Murphy and Neil Findlay.
Jim Murphy won, MP for East Renfrewshire, and currently his name gets about 2,750,000 hits on Google.
Kezia Dugdale also won: she is the Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour, and currently her name gets about 75,900 hits on Google.
I have a tiny fraction of a vote in the Scottish Labour leadership contest (as a Unite member) and here’s how I plan to vote.
What are the leaders’ debates for?
Because the UK is run by representatives from elected from constituencies, most of us watching a leaders’ debate will never get to vote for the party leader we think made best showing, or whose views we most agree with.
The current plan for the leaders’ debates – one on the BBC, one on Channel 4, and one on ITV - is for them to include the four men who lead four parties in the UK – the Conservatives, Labour, the LibDems, and UKIP: but exclude the women who lead the Green Party, the SNP, and Plaid Cymru.
In 2010, three leaders’ debates were for the three men who led what would obviously be the three biggest parties in the next Parliament, and in the sense that we saw David Cameron and Nick Clegg bonding as the two younger, public school men, excluding Gordon Brown, they were illuminating – even if Nick Clegg managed to parlay his brief popularity into a five-year crash for his party.
Steve Bell’s shtick is picking a comparator for a politician whom he knows he’s going to have to draw a lot. Nick Clegg as cardboard figure with massive chin. Edwina Currie as giant chicken. John Prescott as a toothless bulldog. Nicola Sturgeon has just become one of those politicians, as the very-soon-to-be First Minister of Scotland.
Edwina Currie said of him a few years ago:
He’s never kind, never affectionate. So it can feel hurtful. Afterwards, you realise it’s very funny and clever, but at the time you feel miffed that your enormous contribution to the country is not being recognised. Does it make you feel better when you see your political rivals skewered? Oh yes!
Steve Bell is a remarkable talent. I’m not in the least surprised at his longevity. Long may he continue.
So, Steve Bell might have picked something offensive, it might have been funny, it might have been clarifying or illuminating or silly, but the shtick Steve Bell seems to have chosen for Nicola Sturgeon is… Hitler.
This guest blog is by Stewart Robinson: “a time served Civil Servant, which should not be held against him! He is married with one daughter and lives in East Lothian, where his hobbies include overthinking everything and grinding his teeth.”
Stewart Robinson writes: During the indyref campaign I made lots of new friends, all sharing the same passion for independence, but I have to share my thoughts with my new friends in the knowledge that some of you will not wish to remain my friend after you read this post. I respect all opinions, even those I cannot agree with, but I will understand if you cannot live with mine.
To begin with, I think we must accept that we lost the vote fair and square. Yes, there was BBC bias. Yes, there were scare tactics from the Better Together side, but we also got our point across often enough. Sadly though, our case just wasn’t strong enough to convince the wavering voters to support the idea.