GE2019: Subject: Why I’ll Think About Albania and North Macedonia When I Vote

Local writer Richard Williams explains how he decided who to vote for in this election, and how lying politicians are undermining our democracy.

It’s easy to forget amongst the noise of an election campaign that we are not only voting for a political party and a potential prime minister, we are also voting for a local candidate to represent us at Westminster. Whenever I do any of those online “who should you vote for” quizzes, I tend to come out as a Green/Lib Dem split with a bit of Labour and occasionally Conservative policies thrown in. So I am not a natural Labour voter.

At a national level, despite misgivings I have over some Labour policies, and aspects of the Labour leadership’s actions, both in the recent and more distant past, I’ll be voting based on the Conservative’s record in government and the impact of their austerity policies on many of the weakest members of society whilst increasing the national debt from £1 trillion to £1.8 trillion. In view of this, and their electoral campaign with 88% of their online advertising being fact-checked as complete or partial lies, can I trust them with the NHS, education, policing and social services or anything else they have promised?

At a leadership level, I am furious with Johnson’s deliberate appealing to the xenophobic wings of society. His comment on Monday that “EU migrants have been able to “treat the UK as if it’s part of their own country” for too long is vile – particularly in view of the rise in hate crimes following other well-reported comments of his in the past. You would have hoped he had learned. I have friends who have lived and worked here for 30 years plus who have brought their children up in this country, and contributed greatly to our society, working in education, the NHS, social services and other areas of need. They have as much right as I do to call Britain home.

I live in Portsmouth North, where due to our FPTP system, I believe a vote for the Lib Dems or Greens is pointless. So the choice for me is between Labour and Conservative. The final criteria for me, and perhaps the most important, is how I view the actions of my local MP. If the local MP was honest, and acted (in my opinion) tirelessly for their constituents then I could conceivably vote Conservative. As an example my understanding is that Stephen Morgan visits QA hospital regularly to get an understanding of the issues it is facing and see what he can do to help. I believe the MP for Portsmouth North is a far less regular visitor.

Another pointer is that in 2016 Penny Mordaunt explicitly stated that we “can’t veto Turkey joining the EU”. It was a lie. As proof of this on 21st October Emmanuel Macron vetoed Albania and North Macedonia’s accession talks with the EU, against the wishes of many other EU states. The UK has the same rights of veto as France, as does every other EU member. So when I vote tomorrow I will be thinking of Albania, of North Macedonia, and of the politicians’ lies that have led our country to the state of paralysis and chaos that we currently face and the increase in hate crimes that have happened over the past three years as a direct result of the poison that this has unleashed.

Mourdaunt has never admitted she was wrong, and never apologised for spreading falsehoods about the EU at the time of the referendum. She therefore must still stand by them. Politics in this country is in the gutter. Our politicians are reviled even more than journalists and telephone cold-call canvassers and I simply cannot vote for someone whose actions have, at least in part, helped to create this situation. Change is needed, and there is no point in this election in my voting for a candidate who has no chance of victory in this constituency so as a consequence I believe a Labour vote is my only option in this election.