Why I won’t be voting for the Conservatives

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First things first. I think the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition has done a reasonably good job.

The economy has grown more than had been expected at the outset, and looking at how some other economies have performed in recent years we can be thankful for that. Although as I wrote in my previous article, I think the ability of governments to affect the economy is overstated.

Although I am generally more inclined to support the Conservatives than Labour, I still find a lot about the party to dislike. So I normally rule out the idea of voting for them. But this time, I was tempted.

Ruth Davidson: the star of Scottish politics

The main reason for this was very little to do with the UK leadership, and everything to do with the party’s Scottish leader Ruth Davidson. She was one of the few stars of the Better Together campaign, and she has continued to impress during the general election campaign.

A world away from the mealy-mouthed “I understand your concerns” of the main party leaders in Westminster, Ruth Davidson is not afraid to let you know exactly what she thinks. She is wonderfully persuasive to boot. Under her leadership, the Scottish Conservatives feel like a party I really could vote for.

And best of all, she has lit up the election campaign with her wonderful photo ops.

An uninspiring campaign

Unfortunately, she is not the UK leader. So we have to assess the party on the basis of their UK-wide stance.

The Conservative campaign has disgracefully stoked up Scottish nationalism in order to further their own short-term ends. With adverts seemingly tailor-made to play into the SNP’s hands, the Conservatives have put the union at further risk.

Amazingly, this is actually their strategy. They want to see the SNP win as many seats in Scotland as possible, because it makes it much less likely for the Labour party to pull ahead of them across the UK. This strategy is a masterstroke if all you want to do is edge over the line gasping and wheezing on election day. But it makes the future much, much harder.

This is the sort of short-term campaigning that has eventually undone Labour in Scotland, and it will catch up with the Conservatives soon enough as well.

Dangerous policies

In terms of their policies, things are not much better. Their commitment to holding a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU is the single most dangerous policy currently being put forward by any of the major parties. It should be avoided even more than a second Scottish independence referendum.

Moreover, the prospect of the Conservatives forming a coalition with Ukip or the DUP is genuinely chilling.

While I considered the idea of voting for the Conservatives, it wasn’t for long.

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