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Conservatives forever – hooray?

January 31, 2016
As printed in Dorset Echo on about 28th Jan 2016
The Conservatives won the last election with the votes of just under a quarter of those registered to vote, and yet given the disarray in the Labour Party, and other factors, it is more than likely they will win again in 2020 and beyond. So should Conservative voters rejoice? Today’s Conservative leadership are not the conservatives I trusted up to 1979. They follow a radical ideology known variously as neoconservative, neoliberal or neoclassical. It is an ideology relentlessly promoted by the right wing media and by the government, so successfully that most people believe It is common sense. Its consequences are rising inequality, and the feeling amongst those comfortably off, that ‘the poor will always be with us’ – until that is they actually get to know poor and disadvantaged people.
Judging by my family (at least those of my generation), typical Conservative voters are conservative in that they are suspicious of change, and wrongly assume that the Conservative leadership is like them. Many are middle managers, small business owners, farmers, and professionals such as GPs, high street solicitors and accountants. They should no longer in my view assume that a Conservative government will look after them. Indeed the combined threats of climate change, migration pressures and financial instability may make it impossible. There will be many losers, the only winners being the very rich. In such circumstances it is surely unsafe to allow a monopoly of power to one party vulnerable to corruption by big money interests. There must be effective opposition, which the Labour Party can no longer provide on its own, as there is no longer a united ‘working class’. This means abandoning our First Past the Post voting system, which grants power to the largest organised minority.
First Past the Post encourages negative politics; the object becomes beating down the opposition without conceding that they too might have something to teach. Britain faces unprecedented challenges. We need to pull together and learn from each other. A reformed voting system which is both more proportional and allows voters to choose a person they trust rather than just a choice of party would do much to engender a more positive attitude. We need to be united; we have never been less so.
The majority of MPs have a ‘settled view’ in favour of retaining First Past the Post.  As pointed out by Bishop Colin Buchanan in his booklet ‘An Ethical Approach to Electoral Reform’, this is pure self interest; why should they have the right to choose the system by which we elect them?
David Smith
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