15 Minutes #GE2017: Who to vote for?

The general election is fast approaching, and I thought I’d write about it on my blog. However, to stop it just turning into a massive rant I’m keeping it simple and to a 15 minute timer. So here we go.

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Ever since Theresa May announced the snap election a few weeks back the British press has been working itself up. The parties have been scrutinised, they’ve made announcements and they’ve started pitching their manifestos.

Now, I think voting is something everyone should do but I can understand people’s hesitation and doubts over our current system. I’m living in a different constituency at the moment, one currently held by the Conservatives and it leaves me in an odd position of not knowing who to vote for.

Under a proportional representation system it would be simple enough, and I would just pick the party I agree with the most. However, the first past the post measure that we employ in the UK means that there has to be some tactical voting, which sucks as it means voting against someone instead of for.

I’m currently inclined to vote for Plaid Cymru, as I respect their leader, agree with their policies and as we blunder into Brexit talks, would like someone to speak up for Wales in a way that I don’t think the other parties will.

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However, Plaid aren’t much of a force in the Vale of Glamorgan and so it’s likely to come down to Labour vs the Tories.

The Tories are right out of course. Their austerity push has just caused people to suffer and there is a startling lack of empathy about them. Witness how the NHS is doing in England under Tory rule. I also don’t like the “no deal is better than a bad deal” argument and the bullishness approaching Brexit.

And frankly, I don’t trust the Tories to serve the public properly. And I don’t want to see the NHS slowly fall apart until they can justify scrapping it. Look at healthcare in the States, and you realise that for all it’s flaws, the NHS is a brilliant creation and something we should be proud of.

So, to stop them do I vote for Plaid and hope they have an upswing in support? Or do I vote for Labour, a party I don’t have much warmth for.

Here’s the thing, I regard Labour as better than the Tories, but that’s taken a beating in my lifetime. It was a Labour government that lied to the public and entered an illegal war which has caused far more problems than any it solved.

And the party hasn’t helped itself over the last year or so with some monumental gaffes, infighting and by failing to stage a meaningful opposition to the Tories. Theresa May isn’t a strong PM, but she’s never really had to look like one because Corbyn has been so ineffectual on the opposite side of the house.

He seems a decent bloke, and some of his ideas are sound, but I can’t see him as a leader and I think Labour are so fractured that they would struggle to hold it together. May might have pushed the “strong and stable” line to hard, but at least the Tories all seem capable of falling in line behind a leader. Labour seem to have split, and there’s a nastiness to both factions. They’ve made it alarmingly easy for the Tories, by looking massively incompetent and disorganised in opposition.

Worse yet, Corbyn has announced that he won’t make a coalition with other parties, which seems foolhardy. If both of the parties fail to secure a majority he’ll be in an impossible position, either holding to his position and allowing the Tories to form a coalition and retain power, or else go back on his word and catch hell for it.

No, I think as a party leader you have to acknowledge that if you don’t get a majority you’ll do your best for the public and form a coalition with like minded parties.

As for the other parties? Well, there’s not much there:

  • The Lib Dems- They have a few decent policies and have cleverly set themselves up as the anti-Brexit party after Labour put up very little resistence to May’s plans. But the sting of 2010 still lingers and they don’t seem to have much of a chance.
  • The Greens- I admire the Greens for their enthusiasm, and they have some decent policies, but they haven’t got a hope, have they?
  • UKIP- Never.
  • Independents- They may be well meaning but I can’t think of one who actually made it to Westminster, and once there they are a lone voice. That being said, with the right manifesto and the right candidate it’s a possibility.

I guess I still have some thinking to do on this before I go to the polls.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Why we need a new anthem

Despite having been written off as a no hoper in the next general election, new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is clearly worrying the Tories given David Cameron’s recent hyperbolic scaremongering and the rather desperate attempts of the press to find something to smear him.
Earlier this week Corbyn didn’t sing the national anthem at something remembering the Battle of Britain. Cue a meltdown, particularly from the right wing media.
How very dare he?! He’s dishonouring the memories. He’s snubbing Big Liz, blah, blah, blah.

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All this conveniently went down just as the House of Commons passed new cuts. Hmm.
Anyway, I feel all the fuss ignored the more important question- isn’t it about time we dropped “God Save The Queen” as our anthem?
There are many reasons it causes problems for different people and adding them all together it makes a convincing argument for a new tune.
Firstly, it’s not exactly cool that it’s a religious song, or more accurately a Christian song. Britain isn’t exclusively Christian anymore and it seems unfair that the anthem we have to sing or will have played when we win a medal doesn’t reflect our views. Why not just have a song about how great the UK is, that everyone, regardless of belief can get behind?
The second reason is similar. Not every Brit supports the monarchy, in fact many want it abolished. So, while they don’t wish the Queen harm, they’re probably not all that fussed on a song about her. Probably why Corbyn wasn’t singing.
Incidentally, you can love Britain without loving the Royals.
So, essentially we have an anthem which is rather divisive, which is the opposite of the idea.
The third reason is that “God Save The Queen” doesn’t represent the UK, because England lack the imagination to have come up with their own.
I’ve touched on this before but for Welsh people (and, as we’ll see, the Scots) “God Save The Queen” causes problems. In matches against the English we’re expected to sing respectfully to a second anthem because it’s “ours” while English fans can just boo, whistle and jeer throughout “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau”. I’m not saying this always happens but I have observed it.
Welsh fans tend to respect “GSTQ”, but I doubt many feel it represents them. And if it did wouldn’t that be worse? That our opponent is using something which should be for all of us?
It also means that should there be any negative response by other home nations to “GSTQ” it’s viewed not only as poor form but stupidity. We’re booing ourselves, in essence.
Witness the grief Scotland got for booing the anthem compared to the lack of fuss when English fans do the same to other home nations. I think those Scottish fans were in the wrong, and deserved censure. Booing an anthem is disrespectful and not really fair. Even if you object to that nation politically the eleven or fifteen players on the field are no more responsible for that, just as we wouldn’t like to be held accountable for all of Britain’s wrongdoings and mistakes.
The Scots who booed were wrong, but doesn’t it show that “GSTQ” should go? It clearly meant nothing to those fans, just as it doesn’t mean much to many Brits.
In fact some English fans want a change, because they see being English as distinct from being British. Which it is. They want a new anthem for England, I suggest we get a new British one first and then focus on England’s themetune
When a Welsh athlete wins an Olympic medal they have to stand and listen to it. A song that represents one part of this United Kingdom, not all of it.
You can argue that it’s the anthem for the UK, but for me it doesn’t feel like that. It’s the anthem of another country, a country who is often our opposition on the field.
When “GSTQ” plays I feel nothing.
There is no stirring of patriotic feeling, no desire to sing along. It’s a song aimed at a deity I don’t believe in to protect a ruler I’m ambivalent about and a song I normally associate with a country who are our sporting rivals.

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Clearly it means nothing to Giggs wither

Also, an anthem is meant to be constant (unless a regime falls or the country changes) but this is one that will have to change. In fact, the Battle of Britain heroes that Corbyn “dishonoured” never heard “GSTQ”, for them the song was “God Save The King”. The anthem he refused to sing wasn’t even the same one they would have sung.
Yes, it’s time for a change. Get a new anthem, one that celebrates Britain and it’s people, not just one of our richer citizens.
Get one that acknowledges that we are a country of different faiths, beliefs and ideas.
Get one that is actually for Britain, not just the English one extended for the rest of us. Britain is not England and sidekicks, it’s a joining of three distinct countries, each with their own cultures and histories. Each one has its anthem, so let the shared one be distinct and illustrative of this different entity.
If England want to keep it, they can. The UK can have a different one, a better one.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.