For the first time I don’t have a clue who to vote for at a General Election

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The House of Commons awaits new MPs after the General Election

Calm and collected Theresa May has sent Westminster into a frenzy by calling a snap General Election for 8th June. I’m reeling too. For the first time in 11 years of voting, I have no idea who to support.

The themes of this General Election are clear – Brexit, economic competence, stability. Jeremy Corbyn would like to add public investment into the mix too, but if the terms of engagement do not shift too drastically it is hard to see anything other than a very comfortable Conservative victory. Theresa May will return to Downing Street with a majority that could be up to 10 times bigger than it currently is.

On a personal level, I have recently been splitting my vote between Conservatives and Lib Dems. I would back whoever could beat Labour when Cameron, Osborne and Clegg were leading their parties. I was confident that by doing that liberalism would win out. Essentially I kept trying to vote for the 2010-2015 coalition! However, with new leadership in both parties, things have rather changed.

Brexit means….

The major dividing line of this General Election is obviously Brexit. On one side you have a Prime Minister who apparently was a Remainer ploughing into Brexit with almost unfettered glee. She has made it clear that Britain will be leaving the single market, the customs union, the whole lot. Politically understandable, but not something I really agree with.

On the other side, you have the Liberal Democrats who were, in my opinion, on the right side of the Brexit debate but now just want to refight the referendum. They too are being political expedient, hoping to be the party of the 48 per cent. Again, politically understandable but I’m not comfortable with the idea of asking people a question again and again until you get the result you want.

As I wrote for CapX the week after the referendum:

[Remainers] can, and should, campaign for integration, for internationalist politics, for entry to the single market and the freedom of movement that entails. We should keep the pressure on our political leaders to get us the best possible terms of divorce as they negotiate our separation from the EU. But we cannot legitimately ask people “are you sure you made the right decision… no really, try again… have another go.

Voting for an explicitly Remain party may keep the pressure up on the eventual Prime Minister to get a deal I find mroe desirable. However, I do not actually believe there should be another referendum.

General Election campaign teething problems

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron spent the first 24 hours of the General Election campaign telling people he is not a homophobe.  He even had to put it on the Parliamentary record that he does not think gay sex is a sin. That is not a good place to be. It is an especially bad place for a leader of a liberal party to be. If you have to answer the question, you’ve already got a problem. For me, a politicians stance on LGBT issues is very significant. Farron is currently leaving a lot to be desired.

Theresa May has also run into early problems. Known for her desire to be in control, she seems to be avoiding the media. Reporters have already been complaining about a lack of access to campaign stops. May originally said she would not take part in any General Election debates. She has subsequently agreed to a Question Time style programme after being accused of running scared. Again, not a good place to be early on in a campaign.

And what about Corbyn?

I’ve never voted for the Labour party, and would certainly never back this incarnation of it. By most accounts, Corbyn has put in decent opening performances. However, his lack of substance, particularly on Brexit, is staggering. Furthermore, reporters who ask him challenging questions are already being booed at his campaign events. Donald Trump would be proud.

So after all that I have no idea who I will back. Feel free to leave guidance in the comments!

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My first book "Not Buying It", looking at post-truth in media and politics, is being published by Unbound

If you enjoy this blog please pledge here, to help make it happen and order your copy.

2 Comments

  1. Hey Charlotte

    Hope you are well. I understand your reservations about a second referendum, though for me I find it unthinkable to vote for the conservatives who are opting for a very narrow version of brexit who refuse to guarantee the rights and freedoms of EU citizens, are willing to abandon freedom of movement and the single market, have consistently worked against accepting refugees. Also I too share your objections to Tim Farron’s cringeworthy and unacceptable equivocations on homosexuality, but you need only compare his and lib dems voting record on LGBT+ rights to Theresa May’s and the conservatives to understand who truly is a supporter of the cause. All things considered I would respectfully urge you to back the Lib Dems. Best wishes, Bradley.

  2. What an interesting article, hitting home on some of the dilemmas and core issues of this particular election. I have approached the parties, and found they have been very good even at this early stage when they are probably in a frenzy of activity, in trying to address the sort of questions you raise above: in one case my local candidate has put me in touch with the party leader to arrange a personal response. So that is my advice – if you want to vote for any of the three parties you mention (we shouldn’t forget smaller parties and Independents etc, where these possibilities present themselves) send them a copy of this article and/or put your questions to them personally. Remind them that you will monitor their progress once elected and your vote is entitled to change in the future. I always remind myself that it is highly unlikely any party leader will fulfil all of my criterion and often a voting decision is a lesser-of-several-evils thing. And obviously we should also remember we are not voting for the party leader, all three of the ones you mention could get voted out in their own constituencies regardless of how we vote locally, and in some respects that may not be a bad thing! Abstention is obviously always an option also – it is so often frowned on but remains a valid democratic choice. I believe its worth looking at the bigger picture on any policy or issue, and how that party will pursue the policy or issue once the existing leader has left. For example, even if the Tory party had an anti-foxhunting leader I would still be unlikely to vote for them knowing that the party overall was pro-hunt – but the same is also true in a positive sense: if a party’s current leader is lukewarm on something I am for, but the party overall has a good record on it, I would not rule out supporting them. Good luck!

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