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And so it's come to this

MEMBERS of my family (Mum, Dad, sister) all hold fairly similar political views yet have an uncanny knack for properly falling out over politics.

Pity, then, the rest of the United Kingdom which, if asked to decide the correct way out of a paper bag - or, indeed, a multi-lateral trading bloc - would likely descend into civil disorder.

During one such family argument, over a long-forgotten topic upon which we probably agreed, I suggested that I might give up voting.

That didn't go down well. Giving up voting is hardly likely to improve democracy, I was told, which in the end I agreed with, though holding my nose. 

But the question remains. Why would or should anyone that's unhappy with the over-whelmingly rigged political status quo endorse it by taking part?

Ours is a country, or a collection of them, where the only thing that is consistently predictable about our national elections is that a sizeable majority of the electorate will end up being governed by a party they didn't vote for. 

It's true. Look it up. The winners of UK general elections rarely win more than 40% of the vote.

This is not a side issue. It surely must be the reason the country is so unhappy.

By definition and design, most people are certain to be disappointed by the politicians who claim to represent us.

And the system is set up that way, so when the tanks are at the city gates, it hardly seems worth lobbing arrows over the ramparts, ie, voting.

Yet something must be done and the only arrow I have left in my quiver is the ability to string sentences together.

Hence, this blog, which is not about proportional representation but about the wider malaise in British public life, of which broken politics is only a part.

For transparency, and so you know who I am, here's how I've voted in all the UK general elections I've been eligible for:

2001 - Liberal Democrats (I lived in Scotland)

2005 - SNP (I lived in Scotland)

2010 - Respect (East London)

2015 - local independent (Wandsworth, London)

2016 - EU referendum - remain

2017 - ChangeUK (Eltham, London)

2019 - ...probably Liberal Democrat

I'm essentially an old-fashioned liberal, clinging on unfashionably to liberalism's global post-war success in lifting billions from poverty, illiteracy and poor health, and reducing, if not eradicating, war and conflict.

That happened because people, thinkers  and governments around the world harnessed the power of democracy, free markets, openness and interconnectedness, intervening only where needed to reign in those otherwise positive forces when they appeared to be running out of control.

Although we've forgotten that last bit lately, the power and potential of liberalism remains staggeringly positive and so is still worth fighting for.

It served us well in defeating communism and fascism, although the latter, and maybe the former, seems to be staging a comeback.

In short, I believe - as Locke and Mills did - that society should be organised to create the maximum amount of prosperity - and freedom - for the maximum number of people, using things like reason and evidence.

There's no space in there for unthinking ideologies, only boring old stuff like data and evidence.

I'm no more anti-Labour than anti-Tory - indeed, both occasionally have something worthwhile to say - but I've got little time for the current crop of either, given as they are to lying, prejudice and backward-looking ideologies.

For those reasons, I support, and am a member of, the only party I can find in the UK right now that holds on to at least some of the principles and history outlined above, ie, the Liberal Democrats.

They also support introducing a system of democracy to the UK that's a bit more, well, democratic. And in democratic terms, we have little to lose.

A war is under way - call it a culture war, or political war - but Brexit Britain and Trump's America are only fronts.

These battles are, I suspect, lost, but there's been too much progress over the past 70 years to allow the idealogues to win the war.

And they won't.

History should tell liberals that even when you've been backed on to the beach, it's still worth mustering whatever you can to fight the forces of darkness.

That's the point of this blog and that's who I am.


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