Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Turning a pale blue

I'm shocked. I have discovered that I'm feeling more positive about the Conservatives than I ever have before. I'm not a Conservative voter, which makes this decidedly worrying. (Apart from my very first election when, as a student, I voted that way as a protest against all the holier-than-thou preaching from the left wing students.)

The thing is, my heart is Liberal Democrat, but my head is Conservative. This is why, despite voting Liberal for many years, for a couple of elections I supported New Labour. I really thought we might be getting the best of the two, while the reality seems to show we got the worst. This is also why I was very pleased to have the coalition.

It's not that I agree with all Conservative policies. I think their ideas on the NHS are poor, and their approach to university fees is wrong, for example. But I've never yet come across a government that had policies 100% in line with my own - and this is hardly surprising. In the end, I am pro-business. I know capitalism is terrible - but like democracy, despite being awful, it's better than any of the alternatives. I like the idea of limiting government interference. And I like the idea of people being rewarded for making an effort.

What made me realize that the balance had tipped is that apart from the issues mentioned above, where a topic is contentious in the coalition, I tend to come down on the blue side, rather than the yellow.

Now there's a problem here. My friend Henry Gee has discovered that it's not a good thing to be a Conservative in the primarily left wing science community. His colleagues seem to feel that his political inclinations represent a moment of madness, and he should be regularly told how stupid he is about this. As the writing community also has more than its fair share of the left leaning, I expect I might get one or two nasty comments myself. But I felt it was important to be honest.

I'm open to persuasion to return to the fold. My heart still loves that black bird on a yellow background. But my head subscribes to the Times iPad edition.


  1. I dislike tribal politics. I watched my parents, who are staunchly Labour, desperately trying to defend Gordon Brown then - once he'd gone - admitting what a disaster he'd been. It struck me as so wrong to be defending a politician you regard as a "disaster" simply because he belongs your party.

    I find that the main parties, and some of the smaller ones, all have some policies I agree with an others I loathe. Sometimes makes it difficult to decide how to cast my vote but maybe voting choices should be a bit difficult.

  2. You know what they say: if you're not a communist when you're 20, you have no heart. If you're still a communist at 30, you have no brain. I'm happy to report I'm in possession of both :)

    In reality, I believe all politicians are to a large extent bound by social and economic forces which are to their control abilities what a supertanker is to an oar: they can influence, in the long run, but they can't steer. Currently, we're moving into an era when it's simply impossible to implement classical "right-wing" politics - the past few years have seen US Republicans voting to throw government money at banks, and the predominantly Liberal government in Sweden actually took ownership of a bank.

    And I'm beginning to believe that it's better to have a government that would, if left to their own devices, do the complete opposite of what's necessary in the contemporary climate. In Sweden, over the past two decades, we've had left-wing governments preside over drastic budget cuts and cost-saving reforms to the tax and pension systems, and now we're having a right-wing government nationalising banks. And our economy is in brilliant shape. They're even holding back some 3 billion Euro in the budget for "unforeseen expenses".

    It only becomes dangerous when the politicians are so convinced of their ideology that they ignore reality. Then you're in real trouble.