You must be sick of hearing from me by now, but I promise this letter will be the last one you receive before the election.
We came into this together, you and I. I had moved into the area not six months before the 2005 general election that made you my MP, and something about you made me feel that I needed to keep my eye on you. Maybe it had something to do with the way you were always in the local papers. Your slick demeanour. Maybe it was simply because you lived just down the road from me. Whatever it was, you piqued my interest, and I looked you up on TheyWorkForYou, and started seeing just what it was you had to offer my adopted hometown.
I’ll be frank, at first you weren’t doing anything to allay my suspicions. You questions in the House were partisan and party-tactical, rather than seeming to show any kind of concern for the constituency. But slowly, this began to change. Your open and honest approach to your expenses means that you are one of the very few MPs in the House who have a clear record on the scandal. Your support for local business, and the fact that you’re willing to get behind initiatives like Camra’s campaign to save the British pub have led me to view you with respect. And if I wrote to you, dashing off an angry email about libel reform or the Digital Economy Bill, you wrote back. It’s always exciting to get a letter from your MP on that lovely, creamy Commons notepaper.
It’s with no small measure of regret, then, that I have to tell you that you do not have my vote on May 6th. I don’t ever take my responsibilities as a citizen lightly, and I have carefully read the manifestoes of all three leading parties, as well as indulging in those neat little online quizzes that address policies rather than personalities. Boy, it was a shock to find out that I agreed with UKIP on something.
But for the most part, my choice is clear. My politics veer towards openness and freedom of information, towards compassion to the down-trodden and less-fortunate, towards education as a way of curing the kind of knee-jerk paranoia and blind hatred that frequently comes out of ignorance or simple misunderstanding.
Simply, I do not believe that Britain is broken. I believe that we are living in an age where there war, poverty and hatred have never been at lower levels. We live in a country free of religious and ideological persecution. We are watched, but we watch too, and our press is free to expose corruption and abuse of privilege. I choose to vote for a party that does not come up with the same old cliches and paranoia, that chooses not to demonise children and those who come to our country in search of a better way of life.
Further, I certainly will not vote for a party whose main manifesto pledge seems to be that we should do the government’s work for them, by signing up to run schools and hospital trusts. This is a bit rich following the grass-roots campaign that sprung up against the Digital Economy Bill. Hundreds of thousands of voters wrote to their MPs and ask them not to rush through a fundamentally compromised piece of legislation. They did it anyway, in rushed debates in an almost empty house. Writing to me afterwards and saying:
Even if every single Conservative and Liberal Democrat MP voted against the Bill, it would still have passed if every Labour MP had turned up to vote.
is fair enough. But the Tories chose to abstain from the vote, which is even more distasteful. At that point it had become obvious that your party had already chosen to deal with the Government on this issue, and their absence from the house during the three readings of the Bill is galling in it’s sheer disregard for public opinion. If you’d chosen to make a fight of it, I might have been impressed, and who knows, the result might have been different. But you and your colleagues simply turned your back, choosing not to bother.
So, here we are. I honestly wish you the best in the upcoming election. After all, we’ve been through some turbulent times together.
If you win on May 6th, expect to be hearing from me.