Here in the centre of UK politics – Brecon and Radnorshire to the rest of you – all the talk is about the forthcoming by-election that we have just learned with be held on August 1.
But all the talk, it seems, is about tactical voting. Nobody wants to talk about policies!
Even Labour’s Tom Davies was induced to comment on the tactics of the constituency when he was quoted in the local rag (and my former employer) The Brecon and Radnor Express this week.
Commenting on the Liberal Democrat habit of positioning themselves as the only effective challengers to the Conservatives, and of demanding that Labour supporters lend their votes to them in order to defeat the Tories, he said: “I think they are reliant on our voters.
“But voting for the Lib Dems simply to try and keep the Tories from getting the seat doesn’t work. It has been proven not to have worked at the last two elections and in 2010 people voted Lib Dem to keep the Tories out and they made a pact and went into coalition with each other.”
This is true. Labour has been gaining ground steadily – across the constituency – since the great Lib Dem betrayal of 2010, and those who continued to vote tactically for the Liberal Democrats in 2015 and 2017 – only to see them lose to the Tory – are still stung by the experiences.
And the pain may be all the greater because Labour has policies that the majority of British people – let alone those in Brecon and Radnorshire – support.
Polling by the Tory-owned company YouGov in January this year has shown majority support for a large number of headline Labour policies – along with an admission that widespread support in foreign countries for the same plans means these are not far-left whimsy but mainstream political thinking.
A vote for Labour, therefore, would be a vote to:
- Ensure that at least 60 per cent of the UK’s heat and electricity will come from low-carbon or renewable sources by 2030 (polling suggests this was supported by 79 per cent of the electorate);
- Cap rents at the rate of inflation (74 per cent);
- Increase income tax for the top five per cent of earners (68 per cent);
- Require businesses to reserve a proportion of seats on their boards for workers (63 per cent);
- Re-nationalise the railways (60 per cent);
- Re-nationalise utility companies like the energy and water firms (57 per cent);
- Provide free university tuition for all students (55 per cent);
- Prevent the UK from participating in military interventions in other countries (52 per cent).
Those are pretty good policies!
Meanwhile, the Tories and Liberal Democrats are squabbling over who defaced their office frontages with yellow “B*ll*cks to Brexit” and “B*ll*cks to Boris” stickers. The Tory office also had an image of male genitalia painted onto the door and an EU flag hung from the handle.
Peter Weavers, chair of the constituency’s Conservative Association, tweeted: “@LibDems in Brecon and Radnorshire launch by election campaign by vandalising Conservative Association office in Brecon with ‘B******s to Brexit’ stickers – and genitalia drawings! Is that the level of intellect that deserves a vote? The people of B & R deserve respect.”
He was later forced to climb down, saying he did not mean to suggest the Liberal Democrat Party was directly involved.
Clearly, the Tories and Lib Dems are going to be a comedy gift – but if you want serious politics, it’s got to be Labour.
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