Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Who to vote for?

Snapshot of my ward, from www.ukpollingreport.co.uk
It's that time again. A UK general election in around five weeks. And I genuinely don't have a clue who to vote for. Or, rather, I have reasons for voting for three of the candidates and don't know how to assess those reasons.

According to this handy website I have a minimum of five candidates to choose from, who are (in alphabetical order of surname):
  • Janet Ellard (Liberal Democrats) - my default voting preference is Liberal Democrat (someone has to, and cousin Nick expects it). But there is no chance of the Lib Dems taking our seat. I am very disappointed by the total lack of online data about Ms Ellard. The site I used has not yet got anything like a webpage, Twitter, etc. And the only link they (or Google) do have is to a LibDems page that currently isn't working. No literature through the door or visits. Poor show, guys.
  • James Faulkner (UKIP) - not a chance in hell of getting my vote, I'm afraid. We have email and Twitter. No literature through the door or visits.
  • Justin Tomlinson (Conservative) - I am not a natural Tory voter. However, Mr Tomlinson, the sitting MP, has proved an effective constituency MP, which makes me teeter towards supporting him as an individual, despite significant concerns about his party's policies. He is also a real local, rather than someone dropped in from on high. He didn't reply awfully well to my email about better funding for science. But at least he did respond, very quickly. Every kind of way to contact him, and he has called personally, and put literature through.
  • Mark Dempsey (Labour) - my other voting choice, though the problem here is that I am more New Labour than the current version. My opinion of Mr Milliband has gone up a bit since the TV appearance, and I probably agree with more labour policies than Tory. Mr Dempsey is a local, rather than a parachute in. Good online access. He hasn't called in person, but I had a letter (rather bizarrely addressed to me and one of my daughters).
  • Poppy Hebden-Leeder (Green) - very unlikely to get my vote. I've studied their policies at some length and they are bizarre on defence, spin fantasy on finance and are  very poor on science, particularly nuclear power. While I have a natural aversion to anyone with a double barrelled name, Ms Hebden-Leeder is local. Good online connections, though the fact that her Twitter name is @veggiepoppy does her no favours. No literature through the door or visits.
So there we have it. UKIP and Greens won't get my vote. My natural choice, the Lib Dems, can't win and so far the candidate is totally anonymous. While I was quite fond of New Labour, the current Labour is veering back to the left a little far for me, which is worrying, and more worrying still, faces the dreaded cold hand of the SNP. While I haven't voted Tory before, the sitting MP seems to have done quite a good job, but can I put constituency effectiveness above party policies and their impact on the country?

I will listen to the TV debate later this week with interest, but I suspect this is the first election in a long time when I will be going to the polls and not know which way I am going to vote until the pencil is poised over the voting slip. 

All advice welcome, as long as it is a reasoned argument, not knee-jerk nonsense.

9 comments:

  1. I think one really has to go for someone who is (or is likely to be) a good constituency MP, rather than for their party political allegience. After all, in historical terms, an MP is there to represent the voters first, and toe the party line second. My MP is Norman Lamb, who was a minister in the last government. He has been a visible and conscientious constituency MP and answers his letters promptly (see http://cromercrox.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/science-is-still-vital.html). I disapprove of the LibDems and would like to vote Tory, the only party to have taken an active stand against antisemitism, a hot-button issue for me - when the Lib Dem record there is murky to say the least (David Ward? Jenny Tonge?) - but Stormin' Norman is a good candidate and very visible. Also, his majority is fairly good and as Mrs Crox points out, a vote for anyone other than Stormin' Norman would let UKIP in.

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    1. Good points, Henry - thanks.

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    2. You're welcome - ask me another.

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  2. Dr Rod Hebden-Leeder (also a trained scientist and engineer, btw!)31 March 2015 at 10:43

    I feel like I have to comment here, partly because I'm partially responsible for the double-barrelled name. Poppy is an incredibly intelligent, accomplished person, who, when we met, had an 11 year old child and an established career. She, therefore, saw no reason (though this is always a personal choice) to take my surname. I, however, felt that I wanted to share a surname with her when we married. The double-barrell was a sensible compromise which allowed us to share a name. It doesn't say anything about her social status, but possibly something about her strong, but pragmatic approach to life.

    On science, Poppy is also a trained scientist, and has worked the last ten years for one of the government's science funding bodies, has trainied scientists in public engagement and is by far the more credible candidate from a scientific perspective. I also suspect you'd have a lot more in common with her on nuclear, than you realise, too. Meanwhile, our sitting MP votes along party lines, including in their more anti-science positions. I would challenge you to give the Greens in general, and Poppy in particular, a fair hearing - rather than possibly penalising them for not having a well-funded marketing machine behind them, and a personal life outside politics!

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    1. Thanks for the informative reply - as Poppy has also replied on Twitter already, the Greens certainly come top on responsiveness to this request for help! I went through my issues with Green policies (which I have gone through at some length on the party website) here: http://brianclegg.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/the-green-dilemma.html - I admire the revolutionary nature of the ideas, but I don’t see a lot of thinking about how we get from here to there, and along with James Lovelock (see http://brianclegg.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/the-ride-is-rough-with-lovelock.html) I think that opposition to nuclear power has done more to harm the environment than practically any other environmental policy.

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  3. The Tories have an abysmal record with regard to science. The appointment of Owen Paterson as Environment Secretary must rank as one of the most ludicrous Cabinet postings ever. He is a climate change denier, he persisted with the pointless and damaging badger cull against the advice of the Government's own scientific advisers (his successor is doing the same), and his 'solution' to the flooding of the Somerset Levels was to dredge the rivers rather than tackle the bad farming practices which caused the rivers to silt up in the first place. Furthermore, all the major parties apart from the Greens still cling to the 19th century belief that testing on animals serves some useful purpose. Animal testing relies mainly on assumptions and co-incidences, neither of which have any scientific credibility.

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    1. What you say about the Tories is true - in fact none of the parties has a great record on science. As to animal testing, it depends what you mean. If you mean animal testing of, say, shampoos, there certainly is no need. If you mean all use of animals in scientific experiments, there has been a vast amount of information gained, both medically and in terms of understanding of brain function etc. A simple denial of any value from any use of animals is a classic knee-jerk response, rather than a thought-through scientific argument.

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    2. Yours is the classic knee-jerk response, not mine. I started, it's true, with an emotional dislike of animal testing. However, I soon had the good fortune to attend a lecture by a genuine, fully trained doctor, Dr Ray Greek, whose book (co-written with his wife, Jean - also a scientist) 'Specious Science' describes in great detail why medical research on animals is a costly and inefficient use of resources. NOTE I did not claim that no benefits at all have come from animal experimentation, rather that science has moved on and there are far better and safer methodologies out there. Plenty of scientists and doctors agree - take a look at www.safermedicines.org to see how the medical establishment is holding research back. It is also undeniable that the animal testers have resisted all invitations to submit their procedures for review by independent scientists.

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    3. No point getting into an argument with an ‘Anonymous’ but it’s knee-jerk because it’s a reaction to the words rather than the evidence. I’m afraid a lecture by a doctor (many of whom really have no scientific experience) isn’t a lot to put up against the huge amount gained, as I mentioned, in the understanding of genetics, brain function etc. gained by animal experiments. I’m all in favour of keeping them to a minimum but a blanket ban makes no sense.

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