In all likelihood, we will have a General Election at some point in the very near future. When that time comes, the choice facing the electorate will not be about the normal domestic issues – health, education, welfare and so on – it will be dominated by Brexit, and underpinning this will be a decision on what we want our country to look like in the future.
It will be a stark choice – do we want a Conservative government that, according to many, is lurching to the right? … or do we want a Labour government that has lurched so far to the left that even Stalin and Chairman Mao might feel a little queasy?
Yes, undoubtedly the Tories have moved somewhat to the right – particularly in their stance over Brexit – but the paradox is that this is the party that legalised same-sex marriage and has adopted a socially liberal agenda.
The elephant in the room in terms of Tory policy is austerity. I think most right-minded people will agree that some responsible financial management was needed to reduce Government spending, but it became too much about an ideology under the Cameron-lead Government and went too far, resulting in unacceptable cut backs in policing, health, education and defence. And whilst there is some good-intention behind the idea of simplifying the benefits system, it is clear that the new Universal Credits has been poorly implemented.
But despite its stance on Brexit and austerity, I don’t think the Conservative Party can be in any way described as an ‘extreme right’ party. Its policies remain mainstream.
And the Conservative Party remains a ‘broad church’. Yes, a number of sitting MPs recently had the whip withdrawn, but that was because they voted against the Government in what was essentially a confidence vote – that is a sacking offence whichever way you look at it. It was not because they disagreed with the leader or held different views; it was because when push came to shove, they chose to vote against the Government on a matter of confidence.
In contrast, I think that the Labour Party has moved so far to the left that we should all be concerned about the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn and John MacDonnell getting anywhere near the levers of power.
There are many good and reasonable people in the Labour Party – Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall spring to mind – who represent a moderate form of socialism. Sadly, these moderates have been marginalised and, if hard-left Momentum have their way, will not last much longer in the Labour Party.
You only have to look at the attempt to sack Tom Watson as the Deputy Leader to see what sort of outfit the Labour Party has become. Momentum has taken over the NEC (the Labour Party’s governing body) and they are rapidly putting their own ‘men’ into leadership positions.
The policies being promoted by Labour would take this country back to the post-war years. They have pledged to re-nationalise just about everything that has been privatised and (whilst I might agree that some industries might have been better off if they had never been privatised) to take them back into public ownership would have a devastating effect on the economy – just how do you think the Government would find the money to do this? … and if, as is likely, they did it at below market rates, any pensions that rely on investments would be decimated.
The Labour Party under Tony Blair perhaps wasn’t my first choice (!) but Mr Blair did a lot of good things and didn’t do irreversible damage to the country. Life under Blair was tolerable for all.
I fear that if Corbyn got into power, we would become an economic basket case that would not look out of place as a 1970s’ Russian satellite state. Driven by the ‘politics of envy’, I fear that the pledge to abolish private schools would be the thin end of the wedge. What else would be banned? … private health care? … private pensions? … how many other assets would be seized by the state? … second homes? … privately owned land? … investments? … savings? This would be the most extreme and divisive redistribution of wealth imaginable. We would be living in a communist state in all but name.
If I ignore for a few moments the Lib Dems’ position on Brexit, they do represent a reasonable middle-of-the-road form of politics. Fairly vanilla. It is difficult to be overly critical of their policies (notwithstanding Brexit), but on the other hand, it is difficult to see how they would be a viable long-term alternative to Labour or the Tories.
But one cannot ignore their position on Brexit.
Clearly they have no concept of what the world ‘democracy’ means. Whilst I perhaps commend them for taking a very clear and unambiguous position on Brexit, it is a position that puts them at loggerheads with the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the EU. If – and it’s a big if – the Lib Dems secured over 17.4 million votes in a General Election, then perhaps they would have a mandate to revoke Article 50 without a further referendum.
But considering the Lib Dems got fewer than 2.4 million votes nationally in the 2017 General Election, they have a steep hill to climb to get any sort of mandate to overturn the referendum result (in contrast, the Conservatives got 13.6 million votes and Labour 12.9 million votes).
When the time comes to vote in the next General Election – probably before Christmas, possibly before we leave the EU – the choice facing the electorate can be summarised as a choice between a Johnson-lead Conservative Party, with a clear pledge to honour the result of the referendum and get us out of the EU (albeit it with the possibility of ignoring the law in the process), an extreme-socialist Corbyn / McDonnell / Momentum-lead Labour Party which, at the time of writing, is pledging to have a neutral position on Brexit until after a General Election (and they will then decide among themselves), or a Jo Swinson-lead Lib Dem Party who have unambiguously pledged to revoke Article 50 and ignore the result of the referendum.
When the inevitable General Election comes it will, without doubt, be a proxy for a second referendum on leaving the EU. And given that the Labour Party have chosen to sit on the fence, it will be a clear choice between voting Tory if you want to leave, or voting Lib Dem if you want to remain. A vote for Labour is a vote to continue the uncertainty over Brexit, and destroy the country and the economy in the process.