At the start of the campaign, I was far from being decided on whom to vote for. As an outright owner of two properties, and living outside the UK 40% of the year, I have a vested interest in voting Conservative.
But when I read the anti-Green leaflet that came through my door yesterday from the Conservative candidate, I resolved on the Green. The Conservatives have done what the Greens ought to have done for themselves! It's a funny old world.
I have not great admiration for the Greens. They are, these days, mostly recycled socialists of a priggish and self-righteous stripe. Many of their policies are plain batty. But it is evident from the Conservative leaflet that some of the policies are very sensible, and the criticism they make of them is silly and superficial.
The Greens propose an increase in taxes on alcohol. This is overdue; given the local problems we experience every weekend, dearer booze would be beneficial.
The Green proposal for a congestion charge for Brighton should not just be dismissed. Some action is needed to reduce the horrendous traffic in central Brighton, which is one reason why I flee the country from June to October every year. These two policies on alcohol and traffic are potentially attractive to residents in the centre of the city.
The proposal to charge VAT on new build would at least remove the distortion between new construction and refurbishment. I do not agree with VAT at all. It is iniquitous, regressive and bureaucratic. But it makes no sense to treat new-build and refurbishment differently. Contrary to what the Conservative leaflet claims, VAT on new construction will add nothing to the cost of a new home in Brighton - not that there is much new building going on in this area. The reason is that if a seller can charge an extra £44k for a property, then they already will. That is basic economics. The economic principle involved as brought to attention 200 years ago by David Ricardo, a Brighton man, incidentally, who made a lot of money. It is worrying that the Conservative candidate does not understand this.
The Conservative leaflet asks if I like local council taxes? No, but I like local council services. We all do. How are they meant to be paid for if not be a tax on property? And even non-doms cannot dodge property taxes.
Greens want to stop economic growth. Surely it is a good Conservative principle that one cannot use more than one has got? That applies to the natural environment. Economic growth cannot go on as it has. Arguably, gross national product is not a good target because there is a tenuous connection to people's sense of well-being. Further, it is not my impression that people generally are proportionately better off than they were a generation ago. My generation had little difficulty in buying a home. Our children and grandchildren are struggling to pay huge mortgages. Where is the Conservative policy that will address this problem?
The Greens propose a speed limit of 55 mph on the motorways. This sounds eminently sensible. Little time is saved by going faster, much fuel is saved by going slower, and accidents are less severe.
Do I care about the security of the UK? Yes. But it is at least arguable that a country's security is best service by keeping a strong, low-profile defensive posture that no-one else perceives as threatening.
In any case, since there is no possibility that the Greens can form a government, the contents of their manifesto are of little more than academic interest, though it is good that the Greens are raising important issues that no-one else is.
The Tory leaflet reveals both a failure of analysis and of a willingness to pander to the worst and most selfish instincts in people. Since there really is a possibility of a Conservative government, and on the basis of your critique, ignorant attitudes are abroad within the party, I resolved on looking at this literature (which incidentally was scrappy and untidy), to cast my vote for the Green candidate.
Vote for electoral change
By voting Green, I am of course voting for no overall control and a change in the electoral system.
Sweden has a very different, and much healthier, and less confrontational, politics. It is a much nicer country to live in, partly as a result of its different electoral system.
When I did the on-line survey to match party choice to policy, I ended up with a rainbow cocktail of parties, including Greens, UKIP, Conservatives, LibDems, Labour, BNP! This is perhaps because all the parties are aiming for the same few hundred thousand decisive votes in the key marginals. Under Britains FPTP system, the views of this tiny proportion of the population are decisive, and yet people criticise "hung" parliaments as ones in which the minority can hold the others to ransom.
måndag 3 maj 2010
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