Conundrum: Who deserves my vote? 2



Conundrum: Who deserves my vote? 2


For longer than I care to recall, I have remarked something like the following to anyone who will listen:

“We have the politics we deserve. We demand rigour but struggle to engage thoughtfully with anything more complex than a soundbite. We look for honesty but pile in with ridicule when anyone says something vaguely controversial. We expect candour but are merciless when anyone in authority makes an honest mistake.

We are where we are because trust has broken down. People hide behind a mask when they are fearful of attack. And people feel obliged to attack when we know we are being misled. The circle becomes ever more entrenched the longer it persists, and becomes ever more vicious as frustration builds.”


Tracey Thorn commented in a similar vein in her New Statesman column last week as she reflected on our obsession with personality, and catching our leaders out:

“…it left me wondering what the point is of all this detail, all this knowledge. What it does to us, and to politics. I’m sure it makes the candidates more defensive, more secretive, and more false. They look like people who have constructed an exterior with which to face the world, a shell to protect and conceal themselves, even while they apparently confide in us the truth of who they are. And who can blame them. It’s a trap, and we are all caught in it. We long for our our leaders to be real, while making it impossible for them to be so.”*


We are therefore left to read between the lines. The way Labour has worded its ‘no tax rises for hard working people’ is a clear signal that there are taxes not related to employment that are likely to rise. I don’t understand why paying tax on a pension pot worth more than (for example) than £1m is controversial. It may mean one less cruise a year for a wealthy pensioner, but can be redistributed in numerous ways that will grow the economy or lift the poor out of poverty, and eventually into work, thus helping them to begin paying taxes themselves.

Likewise a tax rise that places unearned income from shares on the same footing as taxes on wages. It used to be called ‘redistribution’, and was what Labour stood for. Judging by Rishi Sunak’s attacks on Kier Starmer last night, it now seems that the electorate are deemed to be too selfish to care about others who have hit hard times or have been disadvantaged by their circumstances.

The fact that we can no longer talk openly about the responsibility of the privileged and the fortunate caring for others is shameful. But it was reflected in every one of the “what are you going to do for me and those like me” questions in the televised debate.

Who do we vote for if we are prepared to pay more tax to pay for things we need and invest for the future? Certainly not the Tories.  Labour? It appears not. Shame.

The final two reflections can be found here.

Tracey Thorn – Hero worship has become yet another source of anxiety.

New Statesman print edition. 21-27 June, 59.

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About the Author

Craig Millward has been a Baptist minister for over 30 years and has extensive experience of the joys and challenges of church leadership.

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