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I am a public health doctor who is cynically optimistic about most things.

As British Iraqis, why should we vote Lib Dem?

So the Liberal Democrats have launched their manifesto today!  Now before you write this post off completely just think about the possible regrets you may have after casting your vote for one of the other parties.

Hilariously both of the other parties launched their manifestos in venues that were ironic own goals. Gordon Brown proudly beamed inside a shiny new Birmingham Hospital – Pity it was a PFI that the taxpayer will be forced to pay for at a ludicrously high price thanks to Labour. Not to be outdone, the Tories launched their ‘make Britain better’ manifesto at Battersea power station which also once featured on a Pink Floyd (astaghfirallah) album cover complete with a flying pig. I’ll let you fill in the next thought.

But let’s start with Labour, a party that in the past prided itself on its working-class roots and social justice but has presided over an unprecedented gap between the haves and the have-nots. They have carried on neo-Thacherite privatisation of our services and more ludicrously invented PFI/PPP that essentially allows the private sector to privatise the gain and socialise the cost of a whole range of essential infrastructure such as our hospitals and our underground. They might talk the socialist talk but they have arguably done a great deal to help break up the family, crystallise the multicultural divide and erode our civil liberties (especially if you happen to be an Arab or Muslim – remember 48 day detentions, renditions, torture PVE, CCTV, DNA database…)  and oh yes! mess up our economy.

I can go on but it may just depress you. So I’ll move to our beloved Tories. Yes, the very people who invented the lies of trickle-down wealth distribution model and the Laffer curve cry out that they have changed. The Spinning man speaks at us about he way he has changed them to become compassionate, green and gay-friendly. He thinks that taking photos with ethnics, dressing like Obama and talking of change proves that he understands the world outside of elite society. But scratch beneath the glossy veneer and you may not like what you see…duck houses, non-doms and shady political deals on mediterranean yachts

A vote for the Liberal Democrats by contrast will signal a real change from the failed neo-liberal, elitist politics of the other two parties towards a fairer Britain. They may be a less slick, but are not scared of speaking against the monied interests (remember the much-criticised mansion tax or the plan to increase the income tax threshold?) and have the most credible chancellor who forewarned us of the financial crisis. They were also the green pioneers of the three major parties before ultra-posh Zac Goldsmith made it cool. More importantly they are the strongest advocates for voting reform (which may mean a change to the usual staggering figure of 51% of  votes being wasted) as well as a clean up of party funding and the House of Lords.

As British Iraqis we must reflect on both our heritage and the state of our wider diaspora community and thus opt for social justice, sustainability and communal responsibility that the Liberal Democrats more genuinely advocate. So when in the polling booth try not to picture the rent-boys, the alcoholic ginger bloke or even Menzies in shorts but think of nice Vince…yes, misshapen but dependable Vince Cable.

6 Comments on “As British Iraqis, why should we vote Lib Dem?”

  1. Ali D April 14, 2010 at 11:55 am #

    Pure comic genius aside, do you not think that any political party in the lime light over the past couple of decades will invariably be open to many criticisms, not necessarily because of a non-functional ideological compass, but rather due to the steep social, economic and, indeed, political learning curve that Britain has been through in recent times?

    It seems the government and shadow government have put out their stances far more distinctly, at least than the Lib Dems, over past years, as is understandable in our political system. The Lib Dems seem to be the little kid on the side witnessing the fight between the big kids and occasionally poking at them with a stick.

    My reservation boils down to this; how can we ensure that the Lib Dems have what it takes, in terms of the necessary experience, to do good for the country, especially in the current climate. Maybe ‘trying them out’ should be left to less turbulent times, where we don’t have as much to lose?

    What do you think?

  2. Mehdi April 14, 2010 at 12:56 pm #

    The power of the Lib-Dems comes from the fact that they will never be elected, and as such, they have to power to create idealistic policies. I like a lot of the policies that the Liberals have proposed. On paper, they make them quasi-revolutionaries in our relative laissez-faire democracy.

    However, it is from where they draw their power, that ultimately leads to their demise. The Liberal Democrat party will never be able to gain a parliamentary majority. Being a realist, I now have to be tactical in how I cast my vote in the ballot box. I live in a marginally safe Labour seat, and I fear that should I decide to vote for the Lib-Dems out of a misguided sense of principle, I ultimately reduce the Labour vote by one. If a few thousand other people are as misguided as I am, and are charmed by Vince Cable, then we all become guilty of turning a Lib-Dem vote, into a Conservative seat.

    So I am torn. Do I do what I have done since I was blessed by her majesty and given the right to vote, by backing Labour. Or do I reminisce Clegg’s bulldozing of Paxman and hope he can carry the same enthusiasm into the powerbattle that will ensue the hung parliament.

    I fear it may have to be the former, unless you can convince me otherwise.

  3. Ali Latif April 14, 2010 at 2:55 pm #

    You both make important points and for a very long time I have opted for the realist and pragmatic stance, voting tactically when needed. However most of us are caught in the lesser of two evils trap that the other two parties encourage to perpetuate their dominance.

    On the whole the musical chairs played by Labour and the Tories is tolerated in the good times – the rich get richer and the poor improve their lot slightly . But in times like these, the two parties, under the influence of monied interests, decide to cut back on public services that are of greatest benefit to the poor and disadvantaged section of society. Just remember how quickly attention has shifted from controls on banks and finance (no real reform, more of the same)to competing together on how much of public services they both can slash.

    The gap between the rich and poor is bigger than it ever has been in modern times. An unequal society makes an unhappy one. Things are not going to change with two parties guaranteed to remain in power and funded by rich backers. Nor can we expect an Obama to break the mould given our parliamentary party system. I take the point about the credibility of the alternative parties, but unless they are given a chance, we are stuck.

  4. Ali April 14, 2010 at 8:38 pm #

    While it is understandable the Lib Dems opposed the liberation of Iraq and they had many legitimate reasons to do so, it is unforgivable how in the years that followed it we did not hear one statement expressing unreserved support for a free Iraq and for the democracy Iraqis were trying to build, and unreserved opposition to those trying to prevent it. All we got from them was barely disguised glee at the catastrophic state of events in Iraq which gave the ammunition to use against Tony Blair. It is for this reason I can never bring myself to vote for them, even though the Lib Dem MP for my constituency is probably one of the more decent and principled members of parliament.

  5. sarmad May 14, 2010 at 10:34 pm #

    Do you still view the lib dems the same now?

    • Ali Latif May 15, 2010 at 3:00 pm #

      I hope they choke on their Tory-infected glory

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