This one is especially interesting given I will be facing the same choices in a few months time.
April 14th 2005
It is very hard to avoid falling into the pit of world-weary cynicism and apathy when confronted with the 2005 election. The mood for many on the left is perhaps best caught by the excellent SoNowWhoDoWeVoteFor web-site (http://sonowwhodowevotefor.net/phpBB2/home.php) which debates which is the ‘least worst’ alternative. Incredibly there are still some people there who argue for a Labour vote as somehow a left-wing act – and not just in the case of a few rogue lefty MPs. But in general the mood seems to be despondant – a mixture of bitterness, anger, betrayal, confusion. Those who have neither a socialist candidate nor a left-wing Labour MP seem to be arguing with themselves as to whether it is possible to vote for the Liberal Democrats (this analysis is of course restricted to England).
But that such a debate should even be taking place is indicative of an enormous shift. It is a debate I am holding myself. I do not know if a socialist candidate will be standing in Birmingham Erdington but if not I do have a choice to make and it is one which even 4 years ago I would not have considered making. Whatever happens there is no way that I could vote Labour. This is not just a matter of Iraq. It is a cumulation of so many different things – the endless drift to privatisation, the adulation of entrepreneurship and capitalism, the toadying up to business and bosses, the continual attack on civil liberties whether in the guise of draconian ‘anti-terrorist’ legislation or the attack on free speech represented by the proposal on religious hatred, the puritanical health-fascism, the mind-numbingly compalcent acceptance of massive electoral fraud in my own city of Birmingham – the list is almost endless. This morning I heard one of Blair’s apparatchiks attacking the Liberals manifesto for being soft on drugs! A vote for Labour, most especially in the form of the incumbent Blairite MP Sion Simon, is not a remote option. Whether in a General Election I could actually bring myself to put my X in the box of the Liberal Democrats is another matter. They are a pro-capitalist, anti-union party. Their policy on a Local Income Tax is repellant to me (what the hell is wrong with a tax on property? its the only one we have). Against this I have never not voted and would consider it to be wrong to do so now.
So the dilemma and confusion is very real. And new. And very sad.