james debate
james debate

Monday, 5 June 2017

We are now one week away from the election that nobody asked for, but that has somehow been thrust upon us. The British public can be forgiven if voter fatigue is beginning to set in, but don't give up now, this election still matters. The difference between the various parties could not be more pronounced, and those are differences that will effect every person in this country on a very direct level. This year, The Ephemeric is unreservedly endorsing the Liberal Democrats, and here's why.

liberal democrats ephemeric endorsement tim farron corbyn theresa may uk general election 2017

Two years ago Britain was in prime position, a powerhouse bridging the gap between the world's largest economic centres of America, Asia and Europe. The nation was as prosperous as it had been in years, with living conditions on the mend after years of financial squeeze, and British soft power was arguably greater than that of any other nation.

Today Britain is in a far more precarious position, having voted to leave its largest trading partner, necessitating an uneasy economic dependence on formerly hostile Governments like Russia and Turkey, not to mention a more insular America. Currency valuation has plummeted, growth has slowed, wage growth has stagnated. An increasingly divided Britain has presented the very real concern over the future of our union, and public services have suffered as a result.

And what are the various political parties proposing to fix this mess? Theresa May's Conservative Party appears to be living in a fantasy-land where the country is coming together and enjoying the prosperous afterglow of Brexit. Her campaign promises have been an astonishing mix of dementia tax, taking away free school lunches from our children, and other awful ideas, all of which does little to distract from her wilfully blind obsession that we keep driving over the Brexit cliff, regardless of the consequences.

Corbyn's Labour has not been much better on Brexit, but to their credit they are at least recognising the need for public debate and consideration of the hard facts of any final deal. So if Theresa May's Brexit policy is akin to riding a dirt bike blindfolded while holding a chainsaw, at least Corbyn is removing the blindfold. However a vote for Corbyn also means tolerating the largest tax burden since World War II, and for some inexplicable reason a re-nationalisation of several industries, for no apparent reason. Let's not sugarcoat it, both of these main parties' policy proposals are pretty insane. From an economic perspective, the Conservative Party is marginally less insane, but they make up for it with their manic cult of Brexit, arguably more damaging than anything Corbyn is suggesting.

Then there are the party leaders themselves. Corbyn has made controversial statements in the past that could be seen as sympathising with the IRA, and has been dogged by disturbing links to anti-semitism. Meanwhile Theresa May's illiberal tendencies are leading us straight into one of the worst inequality crises of a generation. Her ignorant crackdown on digital freedom amounts to a Government takeover of the internet. Her gleeful embrace of the UKIP xenophobes, her cloying sucking up to the authoritarian dictators of the world (presumably to help support her Brexit addiction) places us on the wrong side of history. Her constant silence whenever Donald Trump attacks our country and its values is nothing short of a national disgrace. There is being diplomatic, and then there is being weak, a good leader knows where to draw the line.

Quite frankly, serious questions have to be asked of Theresa May's competence. The Tories began this campaign with a 25% lead, which has since dwindled to 5%. Much of this has to be attributed to what can only be described as one of the worst campaigns in political history, which has included a dependence on lame catchphrases (#strong&stable, #winningeverywhere, "red white and blue Brexit", ad nauseum). Two years ago everyone mocked Ed Miliband for repeating the same slogan over and over during an interview. That's basically been the entirety of May's campaign. This all culminated in a final week where Theresa May has apparently been in hiding, refusing to join politicians' debates, and cancelling interviews and public appearances. If she can't handle a fluffy morning talk show, how is she going to handle Putin and Brexit negotiations?

But having said all of that, the rationale of this endorsement is simple. For all their ideological differences, there is one big thing the two main parties have in common: they are both promising to close England off from the rest of the world, reversing the ideals of free market liberalism and globalism that have allowed Britain to prosper. That should utterly disqualify them in the eyes of any economically literate individual, and means I simply can not in good conscience endorse either one.

Ultimately there is only one national party looking even remotely like grownups during this election, the Liberal Democrats. They're the only party insisting on a fair Brexit deal, or even no Brexit if a reasonable result can not be attained. Since when is "looking before you leap" a controversial position? They're the only party offering the British public a say on the final Brexit deal that will determine the course of our country. The last referendum on a generic Brexit only just squeaked by, so by what bizarre stretch of logic are we to think that anything near a majority supports Theresa May's extreme and hard Brexit? Theresa May is abusing a slim majority support for a generic concept as a rubber stamp for whatever specific and extreme proposal she wants, and there is nothing at all democratic about that.

The Liberal Democrats are the only party proposing moderate spending cuts, as well as moderate revenue increases (a 1p tax rise), and the only ones who recognise the need to empower the middle class, without stifling the creativity of free enterprise. In a political climate where it has become unpopular to embrace time-tested evidence-based policy, the Liberal Democrats are the only party standing up for common sense economics and social progressivism. In a world where polarisation to the radical extremes of ideology has become mainstream, the Liberal Democrats are champions of a new breed of "radical centrism", the idea that evidence and reason should dictate policy rather than partisan politics, and that compromise with those who disagree with you is a sign of strength, not weakness.

No one will pretend that any party is perfect, but hard times like these call for calm, rational leadership. It calls for leadership that does what works, rather than what will help win the next election. Most importantly, we need leaders who will uphold the ideals of our free nation in the face of external and internal threat. Right now the Liberal Democrats are the only party stepping up to the plate. They may not win the election, but we fully encourage everyone to make a point and vote for the sensible and well thought-out policy that we deserve.

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