My own prime political motivator is stable public finances. Fundamentally, I believe our whole way of life is threatened by an unwillingness to face up to the basic fact that the amount we raise in revenue in the West (directly in taxes and charges through to indirectly in trade for wealth creation and so on) does not even come close to the amount we expect to be spent on welfare (including pensions) and public services. Only this week, the Economist ran an article clarifying beyond doubt that the aggregate of our national insurance payments comes nowhere close to paying for pensions – people may have “contributed all their lives” but the simple fact is they have not contributed enough. Just because this fact is not electorally popular does not make it wrong.
So it is, in the past, that I have generally veered towards the right on finance (while tending towards the left on social matters), even if I am unconvinced right and left have much meaning any more. It is to be expected, as I have noted on these pages, that I view the Labour manifesto with a degree of contempt, as it is simply a list of populist giveaways (often in fact for the middle classes) without even any attempt being made to raise the serious revenue needed to pay for them. This is cheap populism of the worst kind.
The problem is, the Conservatives are absolutely no better. Their manifesto is, of course, uncosted, making their claims of fiscal responsibility arguable at best. Of course, there is a big elephant in this very small room which in any case renders any Conservative claims of financial rectitude utterly void – Brexit.
Committed as they are to Brexit come what may, the Conservatives simply have no means of being able even to estimate how much revenue will be available to them throughout the coming parliamentary term. A Brexit “with no deal”, which they ludicrously put forward as a “threat”, would make it almost impossible for the UK to trade favourably with anyone, severely restricting exports, thus wealth creation, thus government revenue, thus public spending. Let us be clear: this makes Conservative pledges every bit as meaningless and dangerously populist as Labour’s. They simply have no idea what they will be able to afford over the term, and it is an outright lie for them to suggest otherwise.
Needless to say, I am not exactly impressed by the Liberal Democrats’ Leader’s blundering and uncertitude on social issues either, but if it is financial responsibility you are after, purely by dint of not being an “any Brexit will do” party, it is the Liberal Democrats I would have to vote for.