Theresa May has lost my vote – and no other political leader will win it over.
Mainstream British politics has deserted the liberal centre-right. Jeremy Corbyn has produced the most left-wing manifesto in the last thirty years (but at least he has a vision.) Tim Farron’s Liberal Democrats have a couple of good policies – a regulated cannabis market and a push on Freedom of Information transparency, to name a few (but please drop the Brexit nonsense.) Ukip and the Greens are barely worth mentioning – as previous pledges merge into the major parties manifestos, it is arguable that they have done their job. Theresa May, almost single-handedly, if you believe reports that her cabinet widely disapprove of her policies, has produced the most left-wing Tory manifesto, arguably ever. It reeks of Edward Heath’s collectivism. It panders to a dangerous sense of nationalism, of Orwellian big government, of protectionism and toying with markets. It ignores hard-nosed pragmatism for rhetoric – immigration brings £25bn into the British economy, legalising cannabis would break up gangs and prioritise health and safety of users.
So, where is the opposition? It seems that, with Brexit, British politicians have decided that the best way to go is backwards. Where is the radical vision for freer markets (see: Dan Hannan) and freer people? Britain should be looking forward to being a world leader in technology and innovation; preparing ourselves for the Digital Age; going out into the world. Why, when Brexit was built from classical liberal ideas of sovereignty, democracy and freedom, has Theresa May decided this is the time to leave them behind? Britons, with our love of liberty, don’t believe, as May does, that coffee is a psychoactive substance which must be exempted from her sweeping drug laws – or that the internet is so dangerous that we need constant surveillance.
I’ll tell you: there is none. It’s why, on 8 June 2017, despite being a paying member of the Conservative party and an anti-apathy campaigner, I’ll be spoiling my ballot.
Let’s be clear – going “none of the above” is never a cop out. People don’t die for the right to vote for us all to blindly tick a name we don’t believe in. It’s certainly true that the only wasted vote is one cast without conviction. In spoiling the ballot, you are making it clear that you are disillusioned – rather than not voting at all and giving politics an excuse to ignore you.
Matt Gillow is the founder and managing director of Talk Politics.