Today across the United Kingdom is election day. Voters up and down the country will be electing their local councillors, deciding in referenda whether they want town and city mayors, and in London will be settling the Boris v Ken battle for executive power over the capital for the next four years. In previous years I would have been working at a Conservative party headquarters somewhere in a key constituency, helping to run the Get out the Vote programme for critical seats.
But not today. For the first time in seven years I will not be working to get Conservatives into local or county councils, or into Parliament (Westminster or European). For the first time in almost a decade I will be watching the results come in and will not be wishing the blue figure to be as large as possible.
We have been betrayed. In 2010 we were offered a Big Society that looked to faith groups to share in the care of our society. In 2010 we were told by a potential Prime Minister that Parliament would get a free vote on reducing abortion. In 2010 we were bribed with the promise of clear recognition of the value of marriage in the tax system.
We got none of it. Instead we got a Government that has done nothing to defend Christians from expressing their faith (and indeed has even gone to the European Courts to stop us being able to wear crosses). We have had absolutely no support for the reduction of the time limit on abortion and instead have had key campaigners for this moral cause lampooned from the dispatch box. We have had no attempt by the Government to use the tax system to value that one single family relationship (marriage) which best supports children and provides them with optimal life outcomes.
We have been used and abused. We have been taken for granted. We have been ignored and sacrificed on the altar of political convenience and liberal dogma. Instead of supporting societal structures that research demonstrates time and time again are best for children, this Conservative Prime Minister has launched on a campaign to devalue traditional marriage, to redefine it so it becomes nothing more then gender-neutral civil partnership and to strip away all reference to bearing and raising children. We have a Government who peddle us a legal nonsense of a difference in the courts between “religious” and “civil” marriage, and when confronted on this take a laughable “well, we’ll just work out how it all fits together later” attitude.
But we don’t need to take this lying down. We don’t need to feel powerless. A ComRes poll for the Sunday Times over the weekend demonstrated the shocking truth for the Conservative Party of 2012, that almost a third of those who voted Conservative two years previously now no longer intended to, and that of those who had switched their allegiance a third said that same-sex marriage made them less likely to vote Conservative. Compare this to the only 10% who said same-sex marriage would make them more likely to vote Conservative. A quick bit of number crunching and the Sunday Times estimated that this desertion of the Conservatives by social conservatives just like you would cost the Tories 30 seats at the next General Election and put paid to any hope of a Conservative majority in 2015.
And only yesterday came the news that in David Cameron’s own backyard of Witney, 75% of those who voted Conservative in 2010 are opposed to redefining marriage. Even in his own constituency, a Tory stronghold, David Cameron has seriously misjudged the mood.
So what to do? For most of us we need to wake up and realise that we have power in our vote and that we can use it to send a message to the current leadership of the Conservative Party that they cannot take our support for granted. We can do this by removing our support for Conservative candidates up and down the country and either abstaining or transferring our vote to other candidates who share our concerns and passions.
We should do this for the sake of our natural party. We should this to indicate to the Tory Party that it needs to think again about the direction it is taking and the huge natural supportive constituency it is alienating and offending. We should do this for the sake of a Conservative Manifesto in 2015 that isn’t revisionist, that listens to the people of the country and the hard evidence on family outcomes rather than just being blindly led by liberal dogma.
In one or two places you may have personal relationships with the candidates in your local area. If that is so then vote for them, but do so on the basis of that personal connection rather than a simple desire to automatically vote Conservative, and as you do vote for them let them know by email or letter or phone call that the only reason you are voting for them is because of your personal connection and were it otherwise they would have lost your support because of the national leadership’s stances. If however you are part of the 99% of electors who never meet the people they vote for, why back someone who you don’t know, whose party has turned it’s back on you? Furthermore, tell your local Conservative Party the reason you are not voting for their candidates – let them know what effect their national leadership has on their local efforts to be elected.
For the sake of the Conservative Party, please social conservatives don’t vote Conservative today.