The Snow In The Summer or So-So

The Snow In The Summer or So-So

Tue 21 Feb 2006

Vote positively

Right then. Playing catch-up with the responses to Mat GB's clarion call for action.

The not exactly impartial Bloggers for Labour says,

The next step in the plan (or the first step in some people's plans) appears to be the "Anyone but Labour" electoral campaign, which we couldn't possibly support. Anyone but Labour? No, that's totally irresponsible, even if a new website does appear to help you pick out the 'moral' candidate from the 'immoral' one.

As ever, the Labour apparachtiks set up a straw man and miss the point. This isn't a "Get Labour out at any costs" campaign. This is a "Decentralise and preserve human rights" campaign.

No-one is going to suggest voting for candidates who are opposed to fundamental freedoms. There will be no votes in this for the racist right. Whether trading under the banner of the BNP, the UIP, Veritas Party Leader Robert Kilroy-Silk, or as a far-right Conservative, there are no votes for those who would restrict the people further.

And there will be no votes for the restrictive left, those who do not trust the citizen to take any action. There will be no votes for candidates of the Workers' Revolutionary Party, for the Marxist-Leninist Communists, for the Leninist-Marxist Communists, or for the more nannyish Blairites.

That said, the name is misleading. Strictly speaking, it's not Anyone But Labour. The campaign needs a snappy and positive title. Erm... Vote For Change? Vote For a Difference? Vote For Liberty?

Labour's soft underbelly goes on to say,

Libertarian politicians rarely seem to win the hearts and minds of those motivated by the building of new schools and hospitals, or tax cuts - the fare of traditional British politics. So what likelihood is there of future success?

This is a narrowly-defined campaign, not about services and efficiency, but about values. Concepts that people believe in, concepts that cross party boundaries. It quite deliberately leaves room for a debate between the various parties about how to deliver services, about the priority of tax or spend, about hospitals or schools or flowers in everyone's hair.

At heart, it's a simple campaign: are you for liberty, or against it?

Now, the mechanics. In the UK, it is difficult to engineer a hung parliament. In Canada, the only other functioning democracy to use first-past-the-post, it's relatively easy, thanks to the presence and popularity of the Bloc Quebecois.

This leads very quickly to a guiding principle: Where they stand a good chance of winning, and voting for the candidate is a Vote For Liberty, vote for a Nationalist or a fourth-party candidate. Both the SNP and Plaid have traditionally voted for civil liberties, so has Dr Taylor in Kidderminster. The non-aligned group in the Commons - those who are not Labour, Tory, or Lib Dem - currently stands at 30 MPs. Any increase will make it that bit more difficult to make the overall majority.

At this stage of the parliament, it's difficult to determine an optimal strategy for the next election. I suggest that we treat it as a referendum on the past performance of each MP, based on the way they vote in key divisions.

What we do need is a strategy for May's local elections. We need to canvass each candidate with a serious shot at winning, and find out if they're for or against us. Every candidate, every ward, everywhere.

Somewhere or other, I've got the classified results from the 2004 elections in the West Midlands. It's not much, but it is a useful starting point.

posted 21 Feb 2006, 20.40 +0000

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