This is the fourth instalment of ‘My Vote, Our Election’. You can view the others here.
This year’s general election stands to be one of the most exciting for a long time as the multiple potential outcomes all remain realistic possibilities. I will be turning twenty-seven at the end of the month and this will be only the second time that I will have been able to vote in a general election. I consider myself a conservative (small ‘c’) natured individual and I will be voting blue this May.
Like it or not, we all do vote thinking (to an extent) of the leader of the party in mind. I want the Conservatives to win a majority this May and I see my vote for my local Tory PPC as contributing to the overall effort to secure as many MPs as possible. Conservative core principles have always been the closest of the parties to my views. I believe in smaller governments, lower taxes and supporting the private sector appropriately. I want to maintain a strong ‘Special Relationship’, greater emphasis on the family and fiscal responsibility. As a young professional who has just purchased his first home and with plans to marry and raise a family I think my needs would be best met by Cameron and co.
You are never going to agree with every policy on a party’s manifesto of which you vote for. I think the Conservatives should change their stance on grammar schools and start building more of them. I didn’t agree with ring-fencing the international aid budget, instead believing that some of these funds should have been re-routed to other departments.
It’s this point exactly, that allows me to use the Bill Clinton ‘X and Y Theory’, one of my favourite political analogies. He famously said:
“You’re a voter, and you have Candidate X and Candidate Y. Candidate X agrees with you on everything. But you don’t think that person can deliver on anything. Candidate Y disagrees with you on half the issues, but you believe that, on the other half, the candidate will be able to deliver. For whom will you vote?”
Before we vote with our hearts, perhaps we should take a second look and reassess who we want to vote for. Will voting for UKIP because you want a referendum on Europe really bring you just that or will it result in a Labour majority? Will voting for the SNP achieve Scottish independence?
We should also look at the individual candidates that are put up by the parties in our own constituencies. Do they have a true connection with the area? Do they understand the main local issues? What is their previous working background?
I grew up in the constituency of Folkestone & Hythe (Kent) where Michael Howard was the MP for a long time. He garnered a reputation for being an excellent constituency MP, religiously attending surgeries and addressing concerns despite his prominent party status. However, I’ve very recently moved to the west Kent constituency of Tonbridge and Malling still within the Tory heartlands.
Tonbridge and Malling has only been a constituency since 1974 and in that time only one man has filled the seat – Sir John Stanley of the Conservative party. Stanley had some success under Thatcher filling various prominent positions but became and remained a backbencher ever since 1988 (coincidentally the year I was born). The constituency’s first contested election in 1974 witnessed a young Jack Straw come last in a list of main party candidates with Stanley obtaining 45.8% of the votes. Over time, this Tory share of the votes has remained high with only three of the subsequent ten elections not yielding over 50% share of the turnout. Labour’s support has stagnated over the decades and completely fell away in 2010, leaving the Liberal Democrats as the biggest threat. However, it will be UKIP that will present the biggest thorn in the side of the Conservatives this year.
Interestingly, Sir John Stanley is to step down this election as the area’s MP at the age of 73 and will guarantee that a different MP will be walking into Westminster in May. Thus far, five candidates are standing for election – Robert Izzard (UKIP), Claire Leigh (Lab), Howard Porter (Green), Mary Varrall (Lib Dem) and Thomas Tugendhat (Con). With a new Tory candidate I was interested to find out more about him.
I was initially disappointed to see that the party has picked someone with an Oxbridge background as this is a major fundamental problem with the whole UK political system. However, two things did encourage me; his previous working career and known association with Kent. I think I am far from alone at being frustrated at the number of graduates that walk straight into a party’s HQ to be nurtured into career politicians. Tugendhat has previously served in the British Army whilst on campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan and worked as a journalist in Lebanon. He grew up close to Ashford; an area I am very familiar with and also an important and strategic part of Kent’s future. So in essence I would expect him to know and understand the key issues in my county.
I have taken a look at the other candidates too.
UKIP has selected a sixty-seven year old who appears to be from Kent. Labour has selected an Oxbridge educated lady who has been involved in politics all her life and born in Tunbridge Wells. The Greens have selected a former teacher that has lived in the constituency for the past seventeen years. The Lib Dem candidate has no connection to the area despite her website’s best intentions and has been regularly running in general elections unsuccessfully.
So overall, the Conservative candidate is one of the more identifiable figures for selection I strongly believe. One may argue that the UKIP candidate is too old and out of touch whilst Labour has selected someone who hasn’t had a real job and has spent her life being groomed for Parliament (something I detest).
I think most people would agree with me that the Tories will hold on to this seat if they are familiar with the area. If that is to be the case, then I wish Mr Tugenhadt all the best.
By Tristan Allen, Junior Writer for Daily Political View.