I do not like Jeremy Corbyn.
This is perhaps, in itself, an innocuous statement as opinion polls (so far as they are trusted anymore) show a great number of people also don't like him. It is, however, not because of his appearance, no because he rides a bike or may or may not have sung the national anthem with enough vigour. No, I strongly disagree with the leader of the Labour party on some key aspects of his policy and recent performance.
I do not believe in unilateral nuclear disarmament and, while Labour continues to tie itself in knots, its party leader remains a fervent believer and contributor to the CND.
I think his lukewarm performance during the Brexit referendum contributed to a sense of voter apathy that helped usher in the result. Even today his promises to ensure a Brexit 'with the full benefits held in membership' seems like a dream and only reinforces that we may not have lost those benefits if he'd mustered a little enthusiasm at the time.
I think his inability to control his own party makes it highly doubtful that, as Prime Minister, he could deliver on his agenda particularly when it is likely that to achieve his admirable goals (saving the NHS, improving working class lives etc) he will need to pursue tax increases or other means of increasing government revenue. These measures are often unpopular and difficult to push through, without a party united behind him he is unlikely to succeed
Now, herein lies the problem.
I also do not like Theresa May, nor the Conservative government as it stands.
The reasons for this should be somewhat self-evident as a general decline in infrastructure and services over the last Government and her own are keenly felt throughout the country. Despite years of Austerity the deficit continues to climb and we are now set, it appears, on a 'Hard Brexit' that I believe will do a great deal of damage to the UK economy.
Now, I do happen to like the Liberal Democrats and their policy positions. I like that, even before the election, they strove to hold the government to account over Brexit negotiations on behalf of the nearly 50% of voters who wished to Remain. I like that they have long made mental health services a priority and that they have consistently remained in the political centre while it seems Labour and the Conservatives move inexorably closer to their respective extremes.
I don't agree wholly with their Nuclear position, but it is at least a great deal more logical then simply removing Trident wholesale.
However, in the cold hard light of RealPolitik, the Liberal Democrats have almost no hope of winning a majority, or even of winning the seat in which I live. Due to the hard line our First Past the Post system draws between winners and losers it is very likely that a LibDem vote will be a wasted vote.
So, should I therefore relent and cast a vote for Labour in the hope of driving the Conservatives out but therefore supporting a party I don't believe in?
That certainly seems to be the advice of any number of Social Media politicians, with endless memes decrying a vote for anyone but Corbyn as somehow a betrayal of democracy. Yet there is something stunningly un-democratic about this position, as though others somehow know what is best for you and your only choice is to acquiesce to their demands.
In fact in rings very strongly with memories from the Democratic Primary in the US, where it was this party line taken against Bernie Saunders. A clear statement repeated ad nauseum that only Hillary Clinton could win against the populist menace that was Donald Trump.
We all remember how that ended, I imagine.
Perhaps in an age where Donald Trump is the President of the United States and where a complete unknown can win the French Presidential election the age of 'wasted' votes is passing. After all, both of those men, opposite though they may be, were at one time considered hopeless causes.
There is one other final consideration I must make, the simple fact that I want the Lib-Dems to continue as a party; to carry on the causes that I support using the MPs that they are able to get elected. The fact is that a strong showing of support, by popular vote if not by MPs, has long been a lifeline for the party so while one vote may not tip my local race it could yet be part of a bigger whole.
In the end I think I'll hang on to that, and vote the way I know I want to. RealPolitik be damned.Suggest a correction