Friday, November 25, 2011

How I will vote

After months of thinking about the election, hours reading party policies and no small amount of agonising over my vote, I’ve reached my final decision for election day: I’ll be giving Two Ticks to Labour.

When I say I was agonising, I’m not kidding in the least. As I said yesterday, “I’ve been voting for 34 years, and I have never been this conflicted.” In the end, it all came down to one basic point: The purpose of the Party Vote is to vote for the party I want to form government, and that is and always has been, Labour.

I admire the Greens—a lot. I want them to be part of Government—a Labour Government. I considered giving them my Party Vote because of how well they ran their campaign, but that was only possible because they—from my point of view—have matured as a party, drafting policies that middle New Zealand can support. Their party list includes many capable and talented people who would be a credit to Parliament.

But my “home”, if you will, is Labour: I’ve voted “Two Ticks Labour” since 1999, the first New Zealand election in which I was eligible to vote. But my support, while probable, is never a certainty and Labour has to continue earning my vote. I’ll admit that there have been times over the past three years when they really pissed me off. At other times I’ve cheered them. Those times have been more frequent.

Labour has, on the whole, run a good campaign. If we’d seen the Phil Goff of the last few weeks during the past three years, I think the poll numbers would be very different. New Zealanders agree with me on that, too: Goff’s polling as preferred prime minister has been rising steadily in recent weeks.

National never had a chance of getting my vote. There is a fundamental divide between us that I just can’t see being bridged (I don’t say “never”, but the phrase “highly unlikely” springs to mind). I don’t like John Key and I can’t understand why anybody else does (apart from Tories). On this blog, I’ve highlighted many of the things I vehemently disagree with Key about (my opposition to his idiotic plan to sell off state owned assets to foreigners is probably the most widely shared), but the one thing I can’t get past is him telling GLBT voters that National is “pro-gay” because they didn’t take away any of our rights in their first term. Gee, thanks, John.

GLBT issues are not my sole criteria, or even my main ones, but I certainly take then very seriously. I’m keenly aware that nearly all of the legal progress for GLBT New Zealanders has happened during Labour governments. Labour brought many GLBT people into their Parliamentary caucus. Labour Leader Phill Goff—unlike Key—is a clear supporter of fairness and justice. While both Labour and the Greens support adoption reform, only the Greens clearly support marriage equality. As I said a long time ago, this is not a deal-breaker for me, and I will continue to urge Labour to take a clear, unequivocal stand in favour of marriage equality. They eventually will, and we all know it.

So why did I consider the Greens? It wasn’t just an effective campaign or good party leaders and candidates. Part of it was that I wanted a strong Green caucus to pull Labour back leftward after years of the party crossing the centre line to the rightwing side too often. In recent weeks, with the poll numbers looking so abysmal, I looked to the Greens as the best shot at stopping National’s insane plans to sell off state owned assets. But this only works if National has trouble getting the numbers to form government. Also, it means, ultimately, supporting a National-led government, and I do not want that at all.

A quick aside on polls: The final election results are unlikely to mirror the polls. I’ve never seen an election campaign where poll numbers haven’t moved: The breathless, incompetent reporting of the newsmedia aside, support levels have all been pretty much within the margin of error all along, meaning little or no movement. Either something is wrong with the polls this year, or this is something I’ve never seen before. I’m betting on the former.

My electorate vote for the Labour candidate was decided a long time ago, not coincidentally because it’s also my only vote that doesn’t matter: National will win this electorate easily, probably with a large majority. If we could vote for our electorate MP using Preferential Voting, as I think we should do, it might be different. But, for now, this is a very Tory electorate.

I’m not going to rehash all the things I oppose about National, or the things that I support in Labour, though many of both are highlighted in the Labour videos I’ve posted on this blog. We had a whole campaign season to talk about those issues.

In the end, it all came down to the same thing I started out with: I want to change the government and I want a Labour-led Government. That’s what matters to me, and that’s why I’m going to Party Vote Labour.

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