Tuesday, 5 April 2005

PM calls election

Tony Blair has called the election, after visiting the Sovereign in the morning in order to acquire permission to dissolve parliament. The date of the general election is 5th May 2005.

After announcing the date, Mr Blair said that Labour's "mission for the third term" was to entrench economic stability and public service investment.

I often wonder if the PM truly can acknowledge that the British economy was strong at the time of Labour's landslide in 1997. Surely New Labour can only be commended for maintaining a healthy economy; not creating one. In May 1997, unemployment was falling from its high after the early 90's recession, inflation was low, interest rates were low and GDP growth in 1997 was above trend at 3+%! That cannot be considered a 'weak' economy, by any macroeconomic standard.

Immediately, Blair, Michael Howard and Charles Kennedy commenced their campaigns. Who do I believe will win? Well, most commentators feel that Labour are 'favourites' (the bookmakers do too) and I agree to an extent. Personally I don't sense New Labour being universally popular, largely based on a few factors such as the conflict in Iraq, immigration/asylum and a perceived lack of improvement in public services.

There are some factors that intrigue me though. I wonder how large the turnout will be. In 2001, it was only 59%, which was the lowest since the end of WWI (and when women first acheived the right to vote). Many seem to believe that the turnout could be lower this time. I reckon the electorate is apathetic because they fail to view a difference between the major parties. Face it, New Labour's policies on health (for example) aren't drastically different to the Conservatives.

Also, I don't feel the electorate view the Conservatives as a truly viable alternative to Blair and New Labour. To be frank, they have not been since the 1997 election. The Tories (sorry...Conservatives) need a swing of 10% simply to be the party of government (and even then their majority will not be great).

It's times like these that I wish a libertarian party existed for whom I could vote. Yes, libertarianism in the UK is a relatively fringe ideology and in that sense I cannot readily identify with Blair, Howard, etc. since they evidently are not libertarians (I wonder if Greens, Marxists, anarchists and other members of fringe political movements in the UK feel the same). I've mentioned this is a previous post, but if people are so desperate for an apparent difference between the major parties, then libertarianism could be answer. Which other party would consider abolishing the income tax? Or not engaging in wars in Iraq (which were based on false intelligence and evidence)?

To be frank, I'm not sure who to vote for. I suppose I do have under one month to make up my mind.