As my (presumably) politically-obsessed readers will have noticed, nominations for the General Election closed last week, so now we know who is standing in each seat. To each of us, therefore, falls the task of deciding who, if anyone, to honour with a vote.
The way you are supposed to do this is to read the manifestos of each of the parties and candidates standing, and pick the ones which will be best for the country. This is a long and tedious process, best avoided, but as I pointed out at the time of the last European Elections, our politics has now become so devalued by idiocy of one sort or another that a simple optimisation is possible. For each candidate, read the associated manifesto until you discover something spectacularly offensive or stupid, then stop. If you find a manifesto bereft of any idiocy or offense, then vote for that candidate. In the event that you find more than one such manifesto, this procedure won't help you, of course, but this is unlikely to arise in practice. If no manifesto lacks for idiocy and offense, then you -- and we -- are in trouble. More on this later.
|Suzon Forscey-Moore, Independent||Independent|
|David Howarth||Liberal Democrats|
Anne and the Labour Party will no doubt be familiar to my readers. The party's manifesto weighs in at 112 pages, though if you go to the party's web site they will offer you a personalised version of the document, presumably with lies tailored to your particular prejudices, though tellingly that page did not work at all when I tried it.
The Labour party have designed this document to come out rather well in my analysis, since it starts off with a fluffy and basically content-free preface by Our Leader, and then a recap of Labour's term in office so far. While this stuff is misleading, it's not actually offensive by political standards, and it's only after 14 pages that we get to their actual policies.
I came close to stopping on page 48, where Labour trumpet one of their `achievements' in office (legislation to allow the seizure of assets from `alleged criminals' whom the Police have been unable to convict -- i.e., innocent people) and threaten to,
develop new proposals to ensure that criminals are not able to profit from publishing books about their crimes.
-- a silly and pointless attack on free speech. But it would be a mistake to duck out too early, since a mere four pages later we encounter a `points system' for immigration (i.e. 1970s industrial policy masquerading as 1970s racism, effectively), the introduction of some sort of gastarbeiter nonsense:
UKIP's manifesto is, if nothing else, short. Specifically, it is short: 16 pages. The first offensive policy is on page 2 (page 1 is the cover): as you may have spotted, UKIP propose to leave the EU. Bzzzt!
Suzon is the organiser of The Campaign for a Fair Hearing and an advisor to Action 4 Justice. I can't find a manifesto or an election address for her campaign in Cambridge, but the two organisations named on that page campaign respectively for,
the abolition of the office of Lord Chancellor and the establishment of elected constitutional and constituency courts of review;
The Liberal Democrat manifesto is, pleasingly, only 20 pages long. A hint of something offensive comes in on page 11, where we learn that,
[Liberal Democrats] will consult with business and public services to agree numbers of work permits for economic migration to make sure that Britain continues to prosper.
-- yes, it's immigration quotas. As with Labour's ``points'' scheme, it's always possible that the quota might be set so as not to limit immigration in practice, but this is still wrong in principle and an unwelcome intervention by the state in the economy. (Even the CBI -- usually quick to reject free trade -- has spotted that immigration quotas are a bad idea.)
The Green manifesto is 32 pages long (but that's OK -- I didn't print it out). There's a lot in here that's pretty silly, and the promise on page 15 to waste NHS money on,
-- code, I think, for `treatments that don't work' -- comes pretty close to being offensive. But it would be unfair to make no mention of their defence policy (unilateral nuclear disarmament) and their Iraq policy,
One admirable feature of the Conservative manifesto (32 pages) is that it is somewhat upfront. ``Controlled immigration'' is promised on the very first page, but it is only on page 19 that we discover (a) another bloody points-based system for economic migration; and (b),
Graham has a website setting out his positions rather than a manifesto document as such; there's also this cam.misc thread in which he announces his candidature. Leaving aside the question of how wise it is to stand as a little-known independent in a Parliamentary election, Graham's valuable quick comparison chart reveals him to be another supporter of immediate withdrawal of British troops from Iraq.
Respect's manifesto (link hidden in a news item on their website) weighs in at 20 pages. One page three (page one is the cover and two the contents) we learn that they are -- of course -- another troops-out-now mob. I couldn't be bothered to read on to discover how they present their leader's enthusiasm for the murderous rule of Saddam Hussein.
Of course, in a first-past-the-post election, one has to consider (a) whether there is any chance of an individual candidate winning, since otherwise one's vote is wasted; and (b) the qualities of the individual candidates. Here I am handicapped by only having met three of the candidates, but by a happy chance it turns out that those are the three who stand the most chance of winning:
- Anne Campbell has, whenever I have met her, seemed personable and engaged. However, she doesn't answer questions, refused to come to January's NO2ID public meeting on ID cards despite being an enthusiastic supporter of the Labour Party's dangerous scheme and, as I have previously reported, objectively supports the use of torture in the `war on terror'.
- David Howarth did come to our meeting in January and spoke eloquently on the demise of Britain's last ID cards system in 1951 and the arguments against the new proposal.
I assume what's going on here is that he believes that, because I am opposed to ID cards and the National Identity Register, I must be a Liberal Democrat. I am not. No fuses obviously blew when I failed to defend the local income tax (a policy on which I in fact have no strong opinion) but in any case he declined to continue the conversation any further.
(The 2004 local election result is rescaled to bring the support for `other' candidates down to its normal level of ~8% in a general election. The Daniel Davies prediction is from his Adjusted Regional Swing Estimate model as given here; it's based on data from 10th April, but the polls haven't moved much since then. The other predicted results are from here and here. Backing Blair has Cambridge down as a safe Labour seat, so I assume that they are using a UNS-type model like Martin Baxter's site.)
Update: I unaccountably left Martin Lucas-Smith out of the list of candidates I've met. Ho-hum. Nice bloke but he's not going to win. I went on Sunday to an event described as a hustings at which all of the above candidates were present, which gave an opportunity to discover Suzon Forscey-Moore's manifesto -- vague, but not unlike what I have presented above -- and hear from the others. Unfortunately, the audience at this event -- run by the Cambridge churches -- were prohibited from asking questions of the candidates (a fact which, it is rumoured, is not unconnected with Anne Campbell's decision to appear at it alone among such events); instead, the candidates were asked to respond to a set of five questions which were circulated in advance. And in another tragic reverse for British democracy, the candidates representing political parties -- except for the bloke from Respect -- were permitted fifteen minutes of speaking time each, compared to five minutes for the others. This was, to put it bluntly, completely fucking hopeless.