Ed West Ed West

Why I’ll be voting Liberal Democrat on May 22

One of the interesting things I learned from a recent Lord Ashcroft poll was the startling fact that three times as many people identify themselves as Labour voters, tribally, as Tories (around 30 per cent versus 10), despite the two parties having roughly similar base support in general elections. This says something about the different way the two groups think; loyalty to the Labour Party runs deep and is emotional, while for Conservative voters the party is pretty much a pragmatic organisation to keep even worse politicians from running the country. I’m not sure which group will suffer more in the long term from the current crisis of party politics; Tories can be detached from their party more easily, but for Labour voters the break may be more bitter and permanent.

Tribal voting can be a frustrating thing, seeing as it involves people making inefficient decisions that harm their own wellbeing; if a broadband provider tripled your bill and then only allowed you to access the internet on Tuesday afternoons you wouldn’t say ‘my father had the same provider as I did and his father before him and there’s no way we’re moving’.

It’s bad enough voting tribally at national elections, but unforgivable at local ones – and tribal voting is one of the main reasons we have such rotten local government. I happen to live in Haringey, officially the worst local council in England one of its latest achievements being this work of genius.

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Yet despite Haringey being infamously awful for a number of years now, the same people continue to get voted in every four years simply because lots of voters are tribally Labour. The party has been in power since 1971, before the current Chancellor of the Exchequer was born, so Labour has now run Haringey longer than the Communist Party ran Czechoslovakia.

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