I’ve always said that Conservative voters are much more pragmatic than Labour types. We tend to cast our ballot based on a considered assessment of the facts rather than sheer bloody-minded, against-all-odds (and sense) loyalty.
It is a well-known fact that those who have voted Conservative in the past are most likely to change their vote in the future. For most Labour voters, putting an “X” on that little slip of paper means something much more than a vote. It represents something deep and important about who they are as individuals and as a political class.
Some of my closest friends are Labour lifers who have developed impressive superiority complexes through a lifetime’s pride in their “superior” political principles. Admittedly, they have been less enthusiastic about the Labour Party of recent months (very satisfying) but still when I put it to them whether they would change their vote if the Party’s principles were no longer aligned with their own, not a single one of them would. I find this bizarre.
My decision to vote Labour was not an easy one. 15 months ago I was a Conservative Special Adviser who passionately believed in the work the Party was doing to create a fairer, more prosperous society. David Cameron, an effortlessly natural, wonderfully down-to-earth and truly principled Prime Minister, was slowly but surely repairing the reputation of the Conservative Party by bringing us into line with the 21st Century through a liberal, progressive agenda. I guess you could say it was Cuddly Conservatism, but I liked it. And my Labour friends did too…until Brexit.
Sadly the aftermath of that decision has left Conservative politics in a vastly different place to where it was before. I barely recognise the Party I see before me now. Sure, many of the personalities are still the same, but it’s as if the entire set was changed during the ad break and we’re all just expected not to notice what’s happened.
I find it deeply troubling to see the values and principles I so believed in flushed down the drain without so much as a moment’s consideration for the enormous strides we made revitalising the Conservative Party brand under David Cameron. It might not be tomorrow, but mark my words, this deft combination of U-turns, policy time-hops and flat out lies (no election till 2020 anyone?) has set us up for a stinker here. I would love to be there to wave “Emily Poole for I TOLD YOU SO” when the realisation slowly cascades down certain faces that a vote for Brexit wasn’t a vote for the worst kind of Conservative politics. Yes, people in the north still hate us, they just hated uncontrolled immigration more. Well there’s an announcement from the Ministry of No Surprises.
In response to the inevitable question, “but how can you vote Labour though? Jeremy Corbyn is useless/a communist/a terrorist sympathiser”: I’m not saying I think Jeremy Corbyn would make a good Prime Minister. But guess what? The situation we’re currently in isn’t very good either. The NHS is in crisis, our national security is already at risk, first-time buyers haven’t got a hope in hell of saving enough money to own a property and good school places are harder to come by than a Jane Austen £5 note. Do I care whether Jeremy Corbyn would or wouldn’t press the red button? Well why don’t we all just work on the assumption that we’re pretty screwed if we get to that point anyway?
Perhaps I was naive to believe that David Cameron could “pull a New Labour” on the Conservative Party as Tony Blair did back in 1997. Whichever way I look at it, something isn’t working and I owe it to my hard-fought democratic right to vote to make casting that ballot my decision, not robotic singlemindedness or fear of derision or abandonment by my peers.