Roger’s Voting Dilemma

Some Thoughts for Undecided Voters

I had an interesting chat today with a neighbour and good friend who could be defined as an undecided voter. Like me, he is in his 70’s. He would like Britain to stay in Europe but is also keen to bring the whole Brexit issue to early closure and so he is quite attracted by the promise of a speedy end implied by Johnson’s ‘Get Brexit Done’. In the past he has normally voted for Labour but does not think that Jeremy Corbyn would make a good Prime Minister. He was, therefore, considering voting for Lib Dems, but, as the campaign has moved forward, he has found Jo Swinson’s party leadership unconvincing. He has little respect for Boris, mainly because he sees him as economical with the truth, but he has not entirely ruled out voting for him and the Tories.

I imagine that there are millions of voters in Britain who face a similar dilemma. Some will ‘make the best of a bad job’ while others may abstain.

Reflecting on this, my advice to Roger (not his real name) would be definitely NOT to vote for the Conservatives for several reasons:

  • “Get Brexit Done” is code for “No Deal” which has already been rightly rejected by Parliament. Many more years of negotiations and uncertainty would be required to work out a new trading and coordination arrangement with Europe whether the next government goes for a deal or no deal.
  • The Conservative Manifesto does not seriously address the economic, environmental, health, education and security policy issues facing Britain. It all about mending potholes in the roads, potholes in the number of nurses and potholes in the size of the police force – all caused by the party’s very own austerity programme.
  • The Conservatives got us into Brexit and have had over 3 years to ‘get it done’ but still cannot tell us what kind of future relationship they want with our European neighbours. Do we want 5 more years of an empty-promise government whose main achievements have been to fan divisions in the country and to leave us poorer.
  • Boris Johnson may be full of bonhomie but he is driven solely by ambition. He is not dependable, as shown by his self-seeking disloyalty to Cameron and May. He may speak of the “will of the people” but interprets this to suit his own designs even if he knows full well his policies would continue to hurt us economically for years to come.

If Roger really wants Britain to stay in Europe, then the first step must be to rule out voting for Boris, however good a person his local Tory candidate may be.

As Roger is quite ambivalent about the main contenders, the most sensible thing would be for him – whatever he may feel about their leaders – to vote for the party that, according to the polls, has the best chance of beating the Conservatives at constituency level. This is especially the case if his constituency is listed as a marginal seat where there is a good chance of keeping the Tory candidate out of office. See

There is likely to be a lot of horse-trading between parties in the coming days even in less marginal seats with the aim of consolidating a divided opposition vote around a single candidate. This could lead tactical voting recommendations to change right up to the eve of election day. This means following the situation carefully before taking a definite voting decision. Failure to engage in tactical voting could see opposition parties collectively gaining more votes than the Tories but letting the Boris candidate win the seat in Parliament.

You CAN stop Boris. Make Brexit Stop!

Think Hard before you Vote for the Pothole Party!

Have you bothered to read the Tory Manifesto?

If you haven’t, perhaps you should.

It’s all about how Boris and his merry men are going to fill the potholes that they have created during years of irresponsible government. Let’s call it Boris’ Pothole Manifesto. That sounds good! Sadly, however, it looks like a case of “He who ddealt it smelt it”.

Boris wants to spend £2 billion to fill up the potholes in Englands’s roads. If there are so many potholes, it’s because his party utterly failed to provide money for road maintenance. In Boris’ way of thinking, Britain will be great again when we have smooth roads (plus, of course, his garden bridge in London).

He then says that he will fill the gaping potholes in the police force by hiring 20,000 more policemen. Perhaps, like Boris, I have got my facts wrong, but surely it was his Conservatives who relentlessly slashed funding for the police, causing them to cut numbers and leave them short of staff.

Next, Boris tells us that he will fill the nurses pothole by adding 50,000 nurses to the NHS. He seems to have forgotten that the crippling shortage of NHS nurses is wholly due to Tory cuts in support of training for British nurses and to Mrs May’s creation of a hostile environment for migrants: this means that more foreign nurses are leaving than joining the NHS.

Oddly enough, Boris does not say much about the biggest pothole of them all. It is best described as a monster crater that he, Dom, Jacob, Mike, Ian and the boys have been digging for over 3 years. They’ve already spent £8 billion digging and are still pushing forward without a clue as to what it will look like.

We are being kept in the dark. All we know is that they are planning to herd us over the rim of this mystery crater in about 2 months’ time. They’ll be standing to attention on the crater’s edge singing Land of Hope and Glory and declaiming The Charge of the Light Brigade.

This isn’t the future our children want.

Do you really want to entrust 5 years of your life to the Pothole Party?

You CAN Make Brexit Stop. Please vote tactically to keep Boris out, even if it means deserting your preferred party and your pet candidate.

Our Trusting Nature

Why don’t we stop putting our trust in people who are known to lie?

This morning I read an extraordinary article on the BBC website entitled Cryptoqueen: How this woman scammed the world, then vanished.( )  It told the remarkable story of a glamorous, cosmopolitan and articulate lady who persuaded thousands of people around the world to invest in One Coin, a cryptocurrency that she invented and claimed would out-perform the apparently very successful BitCoin.

Ruja Ignatova, for that was her name, took advantage of the fact that many people are easily lured by the prospect of getting rich quickly and that few of them understand the complex mechanics of cryptocurrency trading systems and the safeguards that assure their smooth operation. Her attractive appearance, combined with her oratory, helped her to draw big crowds at special events. This was sufficient to induce widespread trust in her to the extent that initial investors went on to persuade many of their friends to follow their example and buy into One Coin. The day that she disappeared, they found that they had been duped and would never see their savings again.

This made me think that it comes naturally for us to trust each other and that reciprocal trust is fundamental to the smooth working of the societies in which we live. Trust not only binds together relationships between individuals but is also fundamental to the effective working of the institutions and services on which our daily lives depend and to our confidence in their performance. Unless we are of a sceptical or suspicious nature, we automatically treat other people. even if we don’t know them, as being trustworthy because this is – or perhaps I should say ‘was’ – a behavioural norm.

Most of us were brought up to tell the truth and expect others to do the same. We have grown up with an innate tendency to trust in people who work in institutions that command our confidence, whether doctors, priests, policemen, judges or members of parliament. It is painful and often saddening when we find our trust betrayed.

The most successful fraudsters. like Ruja, manage to remain ‘above suspicion’ for many years before, if ever, being found out. When we learn of their misdeeds our initial reaction is often one of shock and incredulity. If we have been directly affected by the fraudulent behaviour of others, we may even perversely admire their ingenuity and end up blaming ourselves for our naivety rather than them for their deceit! We may even give them another chance!

What is most worrying is that untrustworthiness has become so widespread that it is no longer being automatically condemned: falling standards of integrity seem to be gaining tacit acceptance. This is particularly so in relation to politicians, where there appears to be a growing, but possibly erroneous, public perception that they are all dishonest and that therefore nothing can be done to prevent it.

If we vote for candidates in the upcoming election (however honest they themselves may be) who are members of parties led  by people who have left a trail of broken promises and are recognised as habitual liars, we are increasing the chances that we end up with a prime minister who, to put it mildly, is economical with the truth. Perhaps more seriously, we become complicit in inducing a further decline  in the standards of truth that we have a right to expect from our political leaders.

It would be hugely damaging for Britain’s international reputation – and for our self-respect – if we were to vote into office a Prime Minister who has repeatedly betrayed the peoples’ trust. The implication of putting a known compulsive liar into Downing Street would be that Britain’s electorate had failed to uphold support for truth in politics, making a nonsense of any claim that we can reclaim our national ‘greatness’.

We must not allow ourselves to be seduced by charm and bonhomie and turn a blind eye to the habitual betrayal of trust by a leading politician in the naïve hope of a change in his behaviour. If we were to do so, we could no longer condemn our politicians for letting us down because we would have become accessories to their misconduct.  The answer is to MAKE IT STOP!  by voting tactically even if it means deserting our pet candidate……

Is this really the right time to move house?

Is this really the right time to move house?

In the 1980s, British people moved house every 8 years. Now we stay in the same house for an average of 23 years, implying a change in abode about 3 times in a lifetime. Part of the slow-down is due to rises in house prices and to increasing difficulties in getting mortgages. Recently, the uncertainties created by the endless Brexit process are cited as a main deterrent to moving house.

The decision to change house – whether to rent or to buy – is one of the really significant decisions that we take in life. Apart from having big financial implications, it can be very disruptive, especially for children when they need to change school. If it is a long-distance move, it makes it difficult to keep friendships alive and it will take quite a while to build up new social networks. The longer we have stayed in the same place, the more likely it is to have become not just a house but a home to which we have grown attached in many ways and that we have filled with things that we like. There may be a few defects but we have learnt to live with them.

This is not to imply that some people do not move because they are unhappy with their present surroundings. Perhaps they don’t like their neighbours or the general environment. But more often the decision to set up house elsewhere is driven by job considerations or the need for more space for a growing family. The opposite may also be true in the rising tendency for older couples to ‘downsize’ as their children grow up and ‘leave the nest’.

In any case, if the decision to change house is a voluntary choice rather than one which is forced on us, it is not one to be taken lightly. Among the biggest issues, of course, are to where to move and what kind of affordable dwelling to aim for. This is so important that most aspiring movers identify and take steps towards acquiring their new residence before leaving their present home. They may trust the agent but will still often take a thorough look at various possible homes and assess their pros and cons before opting for one, making an offer and – before signing up – arranging for a survey to confirm that it really is in good condition.

The decision to move out of Europe is quite as significant to our whole nation as the decision to move house is to an individual family. It may not have a big impact on us who are in our seventies as we will not be around for much longer, but it will have huge implications for the future that will face our children and grandchildren for the whole of their lives. Indeed, the young should have the biggest say on this once in a lifetime issue and this should, in all fairness, have been reflected in a lowering of voting age before launching this election

The extraordinary thing about Brexit is that, even if most of us were quite content to stay as we were, unscrupulous ‘house agents’ succeeded in selling millions of people the idea that it was time for us all to move to greener pastures elsewhere. Three years later they still have not defined our destination or agreed on how we can get to this promised land.  We are left in limbo while they pursue their personal ambitions.

In spite of their failure to deliver on their promises and the fact that they have messed up our lives for so long, the leaders of the present government – the same ‘house agents’ –  have the effrontery to ask us to trust them once again to lead us into the unknown. Without telling us any more about the ‘house’ into which we are to move, they are trying to buy our loyalty and distract our attention from this key issue by promising to buy us happiness through throwing trillions here and billions there – without admitting that they don’t even know where to find the money.

We have been conned into believing Boris twice and have already suffered for it. We have learnt that he cannot be trusted to deliver on his ‘promises’.  The last thing we want is prolonged uncertainty. Let us tell him loud and clear that we prefer to stay where we are – in spite of its imperfections – than join him again in a leap into the dark that is bound to turn our lives upside down and perpetuate uncertainties for many years to come.

This is definitely not the moment for Britain – or any of us – to move house.

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Let’s Get Brexit REALLY Done – and return to a normal life

Johnson’s call to Get Brexit Done” is a slogan that is bound to appeal to the millions of voters who are fed up with the Brexit Ordeal and just want the whole disturbing process brought to early closure. We have already endured over 3 years of agony and uncertainty. We have seen our families and communities deeply split between those who want to stay in Europe and those who want to get out of the European Union. The sooner we can put Brexit behind us the better.

But “Get Brexit Done”,  like so many of Johnson’s utterings, is deliberately misleading. It seems to imply that, once a decision has been taken to leave the EU, this will be the end of the story and we can immediately return to our normality. This could not be further from the truth.

The trouble is that any Brexit deal – whether hard or soft; May’s, Iohnson’s or Corbyn’s – will simply start yet another round of negotiations that could drag on for years and years   This is because the ‘deal’ is only an agreement between Britain and the EU to go on their separate ways – a kind of exit ticket from decades of peaceful cohabitation.

Johnson’s proposed deal makes no firm commitments about the kind of arrangements he intends to put in place for future cooperation with our European neighbours. If  it has taken more than 3 years since the referendum to come close to agreeing on the substance of the exit deal – and we are still not there – it seems bound to take quite as long again to decide on the type of future relationship we want and to complete the necessary negotiations.

So the call to “Get Brexit Done” may, at first sight, sound attractive but, when we start to think what it actually means, it is an invitation for us to give Boris a blank cheque to prolong for many more years the uncertainties which have been so unsettling to us as individuals and damaging to the economy.  Negotiating new agreements on how to arrange future cooperation will be fiendishly complicated and fraught with controversy.

It is probably too much to expect Boris and his hard-line Brexiteers to come clean with us about the full implications of pursuing any Brexit deal but we should at least ask them for straight answers to a few basic questions before the forthcoming election.

  1. Is it true that, according to official estimates, any Brexit deal is bound to leave Britain economically worse off than the present arrangements with the EU?
  2. If so, what is your rationale for calling on us to support a seriously self-damaging proposal?
  3. How many years, from the date of an exit deal, is it likely to take to put in place new arrangements for cooperation with the remaining 27 governments?
  4. Why are you, as Prime Minister, not making it clear to voters that approving a Brexit deal will prolong the “Brexit Ordeal” for several more years?”

If you’re a voter whose main wish is to “Get Brexit REALLY Done” quickly, the only option is to stop the Brexit process in its tracks right now.  This could not be easier. At the stroke of a Prime Ministerial pen, the Brexit Ordeal can be brought to an end today – without any further negotiations or assent from the EU member governments – and we can immediately get on with our normal lives again.

The Conservative party started the Brexit process and its current leadership seduced many us into thinking that life outside the EU would be Utopian. Instead, the government has messed up our lives for the past 3 years, deeply wounded the economy and Britain’s international standing, and put the unity of the UK at risk. They have completely failed to find an acceptable Brexit solution, causing huge collateral damage. They cannot be trusted to do any better in yet another period in office so please vote tactically to keep them out of Downing Street.

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