Who will British Catholics vote for in May? And who should they vote for? Is there anyone who has not been alienated in some way or other? The offending issues vary across the political spectrum, but – whether your problem is with faith schools or gay marriage, with environmental protection or defence of the realm, with abandoned family values or the exclusion of the those in need - the main parties have lost voters’ confidence to an alarming degree. But on 7 May, most of us will still cast our ballot. So all this week, Catholic swing voters explain why they’re ditching old allegiances and say who – if anyone – now best represents their electoral concerns
In the last general election I voted for the Liberal Democrats, the two main reasons being their pledge to oppose a rise in tuition fees, and Vince Cable’s expertise on the economy. However I was 18 at the last general election, my loyalties have changed and scepticism of grand promises has developed.
This time round, I was almost caught up in the student hype surrounding the Green Party until I read the “long-term policies” party leader Natalie Bennett emphatically referred to while they were being ridiculed on BBC Question Time last week. Many of these are idealistic, financially impossible or ethically questionable; certainly not what I would expect from a political party wanting to be taken seriously. I would find them difficult to vote for as a secular individual, let alone as a Catholic.
The bishops' election guidance has made me think, but none of the parties fulfil all of their suggested ideals; the reality is that we are not living in a Catholic society, so none of the parties’ policies are going to resonate totally with our values – but some will resonate a lot more than others, particularly on issues such as euthanasia and not further relaxing the law around abortion.
I would like to think of myself as someone who votes for the policies and not the party as much as possible, therefore although I am planning to vote Conservative I wouldn’t rule out voting Labour in the future. For me the current crucial difference between Labour and the Conservatives is that Labour primarily addresses problems by throwing vast sums of money at them – which is not what you need pre- or post-financial crisis.
I am a newly qualified paramedic, and have seen first-hand some of the more negative effects of the coalition’s austerity measures, especially in social care and the NHS. There a fear that the Conservatives are trying to destroy the NHS and privatise it on the sly. However I don’t believe that appropriate privatisation, properly regulated, should be a concern. I also don’t foresee substantial privatisation, or a move towards an American-style approach.
Overall, in my view the party to deliver true economic recovery is the Conservatives; their current approach is working – admittedly while they’re in coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Additionally I have contacted my Conservative MPs both back home and while at university, and both times I have had a swift and supportive response. Therefore as well as voting for the party I feel is most appropriate, I will also be voting for the MP I feel is most appropriate.
Edd Bartlett is a paramedic in the diocese of Plymouth
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