Election fever is upon us and no gathering is complete without at least one discussion on the debates, parliament, MP's expenses, immigration and so on. A lot of my friends appear surprised when they discover whom I support. I have to admit, some have reacted with shock - you know - eyes opening wide and jaws dropping, "What?!!" As if I'd announced I'd been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
It got me thinking though... why do I vote the way I vote? I am from a migrant ethnic minority. Surely, I should be a Labour supporter. Aren't they the party of the downtrodden, the disadvantaged and the weak? Don't they look after people at the lower end of the social strata, the immigrant populations, the lowly workers? Aren't they a more tolerant, more liberal and more representative of the common-you-and-me than any other party? Aren't they striving for equality for all? Well no. You believe that and it suits them just fine.
I often get hit with this: "But the Tories are the Nasty Party!" Which is of course the same as saying, your name is Khan and so you are a terrorist.
So why am I a conservative? Let's see...
- I don't believe anyone who hasn't lived my life knows anything about MY values, the importance I place on MY traditions and the respect I owe MY elders. I am the sum of MY experiences. Similarly, I don't believe that such a person can tell me how I should conduct myself. I don't think any politician has a better handle on what to do with my money - the money I earned - than I do.
- I like to believe that I can become whatever I want, rise to whatever heights I can reach and even beyond. I don't want to slow down to let someone who can't (or won't) catch up. I don't want to stop striving for excellence because it might make someone else feel bad.
- I don't want my son to be embarrassed to raise his hand in class because he knows the answer in case it upsets someone who doesn't. I want my children to learn how to be competitive, how to push themselves further to achieve excellence. I want schools to have a vested interest in my kids' education and achievement. And I'd rather neither of my kids brought back certificates from school every other day(!) for inane, meaningless achievements like 'sitting quietly in class'. They're warping the real sense of achievement they would get if they were sufficiently pushed.
- I don't resent wealthy people. No, not at all, you see, I want to become one of them one day. It isn't the government's job to make me successful; it's the government's job to create an environment that allows me to make myself successful.
- I believe in equal opportunity. I also believe that some people will be better than me at creating opportunities for themselves. Some people will be worse. I can't sing, dance or play football. Big deal. I'll find something else I'm good at. I don't need you to tell me.
- People of all races should be treated equally and any law, that states otherwise is immoral, unnatural and unfair. I don't believe in special treatment. Especially legally sanctioned special treatment. I want to hire people based on their abilities. I do not want people with no business experience telling me my staff or my Facebook friends' list does not represent the ethnic mix of my local area. I will befriend who I want, hire who I want based on my OWN perception of benefit and pleasure. Not some artificially created set of parameters created by someone who understands nothing of my business or the community it serves.
- I do not believe that dumbing down to the lowest common denominator helps anyone but the politicians hoping to look good. It throttles ambition and innovation - something that made this country great. You may deny this is happening; here's a simple test: Take a 1997 GCSE Maths paper and get someone who got an A* in 2009 to do it. Education, education, education indeed!
- I believe that as an ethnic minority, I am not automatically a victim. I need my government to stop treating me like one or even suggesting to me that I am victim. I believe that if I fail to integrate, I take no steps to learn what is needed; it is my own fault and my own responsibility. All I want the government to do is level the playing field for me. I do not want special treatment. I'm better than you think. If I'm not happy with my life, I'd like the opportunity and responsibility to sort my problems out myself. Thank you very much. If I want help, I'll ask.
- I believe that if I am ever down and out, my government should be there to help. I voted you in, remember? I want a safety net, NOT a hammock. I believe laws aimed at ‘protecting’ minority groups render them impotent. I also believe that this is deliberate and keeps poor people poor and dependant on the state.
- I do not want my government creating policies based on how 'nice' they make the academic thinktanks and unelected QUANGOS feel. Policies should be based on how it feels on the ground. Policies that I want for me. Policies that make life easier, make work easier and make society fairer. Oh, and I'd like them to ask ME first, seeing as it affects me. Not someone with an artsy-fartsy degree and a theory. Most new ideas tend to be inferior to the traditional responses which they propose to replace. To replace the wisdom of generations with a brainwave conceived over champagne in an ivory tower is ludicrous. I don't believe in sudden, knee-jerk reactions to social anomalies. Nature has a way of correcting problems in a much better and sustainable way.
- I am a citizen of the United Kingdom before I am a citizen of the EU. I'd like my own neighbourhood sorted before I lend a helping hand to others. Splinter, log? There's some sense in that you know. My priorities are my family, my community, my country and then the rest of the planet. In that order.
- I am shocked at the way children are treated like adults and adults like children. Respect for your elders is easily eroded when parental authority is undermined. I'd like my government to stay out of the way I raise my kids. My parents raised me without the fear of the state. My siblings and I turned out okay.
- Private industry almost always does a better job of allocating resources than the government could ever hope to do. It's their ass on the line. Bureaucrats have nothing to lose when things go wrong. It's not their money you see. I'd like my government out of business and industry and back into ensuring everything runs smoothly. I want my customers to come back. I will provide a good service. Let me.
- Having a government that is too involved in my life is far more of a threat than a government that isn’t involved enough. I will choose the temperature of my bath water myself, thank you very much. Now get out of my bath.
- I'm paying too much in taxes. If a third of my income goes in personal taxes and nearly a fifth is lopped off the rest when buy things, I'm not really working for myself or my family. If the government can't operate at a reasonable cost to me, they should cut back. Just as any enterprise or hardworking individual would. Simply put, I can't afford a big government; I'd like a smaller one please.
- I believe in educating people to my point of view. Not forcing them into compliance. The last guy who tried this started a world war. The one before him created a monster superstate.
- I believe in equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes. Please stop using silly statistics to illustrate the bloody obvious. "90 nine to 11 year olds believe that 'obesity' is offensive' and may demotivate overweight children." Really? So we're going to call a spade a shovel then? I’d rather my taxes not be spent on such drivel.
- I believe when the government employs a significant chunk of the working age population and absorbs more than half the GDP to run, something is seriously wrong. One department takes money from me in the form of taxes and yet another department gives it back to me in the form of tax credits. Both departments employ an army of people who could be working to better the competitive advantage of my country and leading the way to technological and industrial advancement instead of shuffling figures.
- I believe that many seemingly ‘noble’ and well-intentioned policies of appeasement of special interest groups are simply very well disguised methods of securing vote banks. Divide and rule at its best. I’d like my government to not manipulate minorities in that way. It angers me that the bulk of my own community is goaded into supporting the very ‘regime’ that undermines them.
- I believe that the more the government tries to 'help' us with new laws and systems, the more of our personal freedom we barter away. As Benjamin Franklin famously said, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither." Think about it.
All of the above is quite simplistic, in no particular order and not the entirety of my opinion. I could go on and on... Also, you can tell, I have not had the sophisticated education nor the fancy words some of the people who will refute my points usually come armed with. But maybe some straight talking is all we need.
What do you think?