Wednesday 24 February 2010

How should I vote?

I see that my good friend Sean Gabb is thinking of voting for the Tories.

This is quite a change for Sean and here's the key quote:

This being so, why do I propose to vote Conservative? The answer is that a Conservative Government would probably continue with most of the suicidal or simply demented policies of the Blair and Brown Governments. But, at the end of five years, it would then allow a free election as these things have been commonly understood in England. A re-elected labour Government would not.
I'm sure that Sean includes Scotland as well.

My own position on the forthcoming election is still in doubt.

Let's go back to when I first became interested in politics - back in the late 'sixties. After a brief leftist phase I discovered the IEA and learned quite a bit about economics. I was excited when Ted Heath won the 1970 election, but he rapidly abandoned his free market Selsdon principles and adopted interventionism. In 1972 I discovered libertarianism, joined the Libertarian Alliance (now directed by Sean), and read all the classic stuff by Mises, Hayek, Rand, Friedman and Rothbard.

Things got worse and worse during the rest of the 'seventies. Inflation was rampant and total economic collapse seemed possible. But as far as I can recall we libertarians didn't concern ourselves nearly so much with civil liberties as we do now. Not because civil liberties weren't important but rather because the Wilson/Callaghan Labour governments clearly wanted to nationalise the economy but didn't show anything like as much interest in nationalising our minds and bodies. Unlike their successors today.

This meant that British libertarians were quite supportive of the Thatcher regime as it gradually reduced the growth of the socialised part of the economy and brought inflation back under some sort of control. Sadly there was no serious attempt to tackle the welfare state but lots of us continued to vote for a Conservative party that was clearly better than the alternative.

Along came John Major - infinitely preferable to his Labour successors who enthusiastically supported the ill-fated ERM debacle. And then we got Blair. I for one wasn't fooled for a moment. Blair and Brown have almost destroyed our country. Not only have they ruined the economy, they have almost completely wiped out our civil liberties that have been won over such a long period. I think that fixing the economy will be an easier task than rebuilding civil society.

In 2005 I voted for the Tories but without too much enthusiasm. In 2007 I voted Tory for the Edinburgh City Council but SNP for Holyrood. This was partly a tactical anti-Labour vote and, thank God, Labour got the chop. But my support for the Nationalists wasn't entirely tactical. I do have a great deal of sympathy for the independence cause. My own background is both English and Scottish and I'm proud to say that I've visited every county in the United Kingdom. I also think that the UK has generally been a good thing.

But times change.

We are no longer a world power and it was the Empire that bound us together. Also, Britain is just about the most centralised country of its size - despite devolution. The dominance of London - largely the result of government policies, not of the free market - harms the rest of the country tremendously, especially those of us far from the capital. Scotland has an alternative identity that's not on offer to, say, Yorkshire. Everyone here, including unionists, has an alternate nationalism to the British one. I think that Scottish independence is likely at some time and I'd quite like to be around when it happens. I see no reason for an independent Scotland to be an economic failure - subject to adopting suitable economic policies. I've got the textbooks! And although some other libertarians may disagree, I think that Scotland's relative homogeneity may well be a most useful asset in the future.

But the SNP hasn't quite sealed the deal for me yet. Every time I decide that I'll abandon the Tories for the Westminster vote the SNP indulges in another bout of nanny-statism. Then I start thinking like Sean and lean back towards the Tories only for them to drop another clanger. I know several of the Scottish Conservative candidates and would probably vote for them out of a sense of loyalty were I to live in a relevant constituency. But fortunately perhaps I've never met the local candidate and so my own vote can't be influenced by friendship. Nor do I know the local SNP person. I have seen the Labour candidate on a couple of occasions. He seems to be slightly more knowledgeable about economics than does his boss. If only this Labour chappie would defect to the Libertarian Party my quest would be over. Oh yes, his name is Alistair Darling.


David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

I didn't even realise that either of the Georges Bush even *had* a "take on Northern Ireland" ... 
While Bush was (and is) a definite Republican supporter, and definitely approved of IRAs, I doubt if he was (or even would have been) a Repooblicun supporter ... 
A lot of people in the US were convinced that it wasn't worth supporting the lesser of two evils - and have landed the US in a much less than healthy economic state ... 
I like to think that US voters will show that they have learned their lesson, and will correct things significantly in November - just as I hope that the UK will correct things on Thursday ... 

4 May 2010, 02:24:43 GMT+01:00
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David Farrer
"How does the Obama/Clinton take on the Falklands suit you ?" 
About the same as George Bush's take on Northern Ireland! 
More generally, we can never know what would or wouldn't have happened if the other guy had won. But in my case (and I'm not alone) I've got really fed up with supporting the (apparent) lesser of two evils. In the US I would vote for the Libertarian Party. Here also, were the LPUK to stand locally.  

13 March 2010, 16:05:39 GMT
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McCain might or might not have been "all that different from Obama" - yet he woudl have been enough different in the correct directions to have made hima  better choice ... 
Even on something as comparably-trivial as earmarks, I believe that, as President, McCain would have followed through on his campaign promise that he would veto any Bill that came to his desk with attached earmarks ... 
McCain would be actively working on jobs in these conditions ... not healthcare, not high-speed rail, not alienating current allies while cozying up to the planet's dictator corps ... 
How does the Obama/Clinton take on the Falklands suit you ?

10 March 2010, 01:51:06 GMT
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David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

David Farrer
I don't think that McCain would have been all that different from Obama. And "capitalism" or "conservatism" would be blamed for the outcome. Just as will probably happen here if Cameron gets in.

8 March 2010, 09:58:24 GMT
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Just a thought ... 
In the US, a bunch of people voted for Obama because they decided that they *knew* that McCain would not be sufficiently conservative ... 
The planet is now living with the consequencs of that 'feel-good' vote ...  
There is a phenomenon which should be called "Voter's Remorse", analogous to "Buyer's Remorse" ...

5 March 2010, 02:10:03 GMT
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David Farrer
There's no danger of my voting for AD. He's not going to come out as a libertarian. Well, probably not! A vote for SNP is looking likely at the moment.  
Some libertarians do think that it's better for Labour to win the election so as they get the blame for the coming financial crisis. If the Tories win, "capitalism" will be blamed, despite the Tories being almost as statist as Labour.  I can see the logic in that but couldn't bring myself to vote for the Labour party. As one gets older, preservation of capital from inflation becomes even more urgent. The Tories may inflate away 10% of my savings but Labour would probably be worse.  
I did see a comment somewhere earlier today to the effect that the "hounds of hell" thing was yet another piece of media spin thought up by Labour to divert attention away from the economy. Nothing would surprise me. 

25 February 2010, 22:53:41 GMT
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Interesting, always good to see one's reasons behind their vote. 
Quick question though, given the 'hounds of hell' or whatever it was that was unleashed on Mr Darling, would that make you more likely to vote for him at all?

25 February 2010, 22:09:47 GMT
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Surreptitious Evil
I must admit that I am not going to vote on the basis of high minded principle, economic analysis or libertarian ethics.  I am going to vote for a hideously nanny-state Euro-fetish party, whose founding principle I utterly disagree with.  The SNP, of course.  Why?  Well, I do know the local candidate quite well - in fact I am off to patronise his business in an hour or so - and he will be a good representative for the area.  But that's not it, not even slightly.  It's that they are the only party, in my area, with the slightest chance of beating Labour.  
I would love to be able to meaningfully vote according to my principles - but it'll never happen.  And, frankly, Cameron's centrist principle-less mob don't offer me enough for me to move from my despite of nu-Labour in general and Eric Joyce in specific and, as I usually describe voting Conservative in the Central Belt, "ceremonially spoil my ballot."

25 February 2010, 08:05:06 GMT
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Great post.  The idea for mine also came from tory friends.  Sadly the libertarians don't do it for me either, so I suppose I'm stuck with voting SNP because I strongly support Scotland looking after her own affairs like most other nations.  Not that I support too many of their policies.  

24 February 2010, 23:57:55 GMT