If you are resident in UK, you will probably be voting in a General Election tomorrow.
As, come rain, snow, hell or unacceptably high water, shall I.
I cannot add anything to the litany of high principle that has bombarded the people of Britain for the last eight weeks, or comment meaningfully on the scheming, conniving and legal wrangling of our Members of Parliament throughout the last three years. You will have formed your own opinions.
So how can I contribute? How can I, personally, decide which box to tick?
One thing I can offer is memory. Not ‘nostalgia’, simply memory. I was already an adult when UK decided to join the Common Market, then a tariff-free trading relationship with a half-dozen Western European nations as signatories. I have voted in more General Elections than I care to count.
Here are some thoughts. The day before UK linked arms with Europe, £5000 would buy a very reasonable house, a cup of coffee was the equivalent of 12.5 pence, and £6 to £7 would cover the weekly ‘shop’. Make no mistake: the price/wage spiral started there, and it was led, of course, by prices.
In a few years, back there in the 1960s, the cost of living escalated by 100%. In a very few more, UK had lost most of its industrial base and an entire fishing industry. In a handful of decades, the German hegemony that likes to entitle itself the EU has asset-stripped UK mercilessly, while we, as the only other net contributor to the EU, paid them for the privilege.
We weren’t doing brilliantly before the EU, but we were doing all right. Without us the whole Tower of Babel is likely to come crashing down, anyway. I can’t think of one solid reason to stay locked in with them, nor can I imagine why we have to pay them even more to get out.
That single influence should dictate the destination of my vote. The Conservatives are the only electable party with a determination to press forward. The others are advocating one or another form of surrender to the Bergers of Brussels. Well, let’s see.
The Labour Party is the only other real contender for government. Putting aside its neo-Marxist leader’s extremely extreme views – his support of the Irish Republican Army, his reluctance to maintain a nuclear deterrent, and his past associations with Hezbollah, plus his party’s, if not his own, anti-Semite history – the party he would lead into power is to the left of left-wing Socialism. I remember the Labour governments of the 1970s.
The Labour Party is, and has always been, led by the creaky democracy of ‘Conference’ in which the powerful trade unions have a disproportionate say. In the current campaign their Chancellor-in-waiting, John McDonnell, has twice mentioned ‘collective bargaining’ as insurance that everyone should enjoy a decent standard of living.
I remember the true effect of ‘collective bargaining’. I can shorten it to one word: strikes. The threat of industrial action will have teeth again if Labour re-nationalizes such services as the railways. ‘Collective bargaining’ means forcing up wages to a point where productivity is stifled and prices mushroom. ‘Collective bargaining’ means one disaffected railway worker in Crewe can bring the whole national railway network to a halt.
So, not Labour then. The other parties, Liberal, UKIP, the Greens – no, I’m afraid not. I want my vote at least to have a chance of counting.
Which brings me back to the Conservatives, even knowing their only real interest is in perpetuating the worst aspects of the British tradition – class, unearned privilege and the preservation of wealth of a chosen few. I am not, by instinct, a Conservative, especially at this junction in our history, but I accept they will generate business growth and get back at least some of the country we had and have lost to the EU.
Which is better for all of us, in the end. So thereto I plight me my ‘X’, albeit, I think, for the last time.
Let’s see what happens…