Rationalism is about making decisions with your head, limiting the effect of your own biases, baseless opinions or preferences. It’s about making decisions that make your country and the world a better place. In this election, these questions have been explored in depth. If you want a country run by a party who is offering evidence-based policies, there is no perfect option, but Britain’s best option in 2017 is most certainly Labour.
The Basics – economics
Whilst the the Tories continually mislead the public over public services – claiming business simply can not be taxed any higher without it harming our tax receipts – history betrays them. Just 7 years ago, tax rates were higher than they are now. And higher than Labour are proposing putting them up to.
What Labour are offering is a more rational society. It may seem like classic leftism, but taxing the rich more in order to balance society is vital in growing any economy. In the same way that approaching inequality in developing nations – by educating women or providing free healthcare – is the key to improving prosperity. This is not just moral and thereby subjective, it’s rational economic.
Leaving children and adults of poorer families behind, and overseeing a growing economic inequality simply means limiting the pool of potential wealth creators and innovators in the country.
Simply look at the modern world, and an economic environment ruled by a select few individuals who had great ideas and the desire to carry them through. The likes of Facebook, Google, Amazon, Tesla, etc. All going from strength to strength. These kinds of innovators don’t often appear from the already wealthy, but from the minds of humans, spontaneously, who need to be encouraged and nurtured. Limiting the ability of your society to create people like this – limiting the pool of potential – is hugely damaging, as missing just one Zuckerberg or Musk is disastrous for the country and the planet.
We need more ambitious, modern economics, and the Tories championing of Thatcherist ‘trickle down wealth’ has been discredited time and time, and time, again. It increases inequality, meaning the poor get poorer in relation to inflation. This is not the sign of a developing society, but of a stagnating one who thinks it can do no better. Yet we voted to leave the EU last year as at least half of us believe we can do better. So vote for it.
Labour’s move away from New Labour economics is a move toward reason.
Classically the party of defence, the Tories reluctance to embrace the most pressing security issues in the UK is telling. It’s abandoning of the public service cyber security – de-funding them whilst the rich are taxed less – has left us all weaker and open to attack. Literally every party other than the Tories appear to offer more than the uncosted, rhetoric heavy non-policies they give us.
On Trident, they fair little better. Trident, I would argue, is a primary source of British defence – a weapon we should never need to use, but whose very presence is equal to every single British person being employed in the armed forces. It’s value, ironically, despite looking high is actually very efficient. Labour’s decision to match the Tories and keep it is a good one.
The Tories inability to create lasting, friendly relationships, however, pushes us closer to needing to use it. Trident should not be used as a hostile deterrent, but as an invisible, nameless utility in the background. Under the Tories, however, the diplomatic skills have reduced so greatly that the British public now clings to it as if its use is inevitable. This is neither the point of it, nor a positive reaction to Tory defence policy. It shows they are doing a bad job.
Corbyn’s personal opinion, of wanting to abolish Trident, is almost certainly wrong. Yes, it’s use would be one of the darkest chapters in human history. But it’s presence deters far more. The lack of any long-lasting, or globally involved wars in the last 70 years – despite following on from two of the most well-remembered and horrific wars in history – is a testament to its deterrence value. Yes we should try to find a way to a nuclear weapon-free world, but at the moment the risk of 1 or more nuclear weapons being used is outweighed by the almost certain saving of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of lives. We shouldn’t ignore that.
However, does Corbyn’s reluctance to use nukes defeat their use as a deterrent? Absolutely not. For the same reason that a man holding a gun to your head doesn’t automatically make you feel safe by saying he won’t pull the trigger. Similarly, Corbyn’s ability to talk to his opponents, a will to solve problems rather than ignore them, and the talent of his diplomats, compared to the bumbling media-celebs in the Tory party, mean Labour is a safer pair of hands on defence, rationally speaking. May’s slight advantage on Trident does not eliminate her huge deficit in the more active and important deterrent made up of diplomacy.
Our party of government failed to even unite with other world leaders to condemn Trump’s removal from one of the most important climate change agreements of our time. They sit firmly at the bottom of the political pile in British politics on climate change, which is arguably the most important issue of our time.
The Greens, of course, take it more seriously than any other party and are the rational choice if we consider climate change alone.
Of course, this isn’t sensible. The Green’s are a pressure group, whose economics plan doesn’t add up – if Labour are promising ambitious jumps in economics, the Greens are pretending we can float forwards. In government, they would have to compromise beyond their plans, and so even then they would thus be blunted short of their desires.
So long as you avoid the anti-intellectual and anti-modern politicians of UKIP – who seem to have not been reading any books and thus learning anything about the modern world in the past 40 years – and the Conservatism which currently fails to improve British economics and climate change, then the other parties are all roughly second placed behind the Greens.
This shouldn’t be an election about Brexit, but it is. UKIP are on one side – desperately wanting to pursue every possible form of isolation from Europe, in a way which would certainly hurt our economy, and almost certainly hurt our reputation globally. On the other are the Lib Dems, who not only want to get into power in order to spend the next 5 years having the same conversation we had last year over and over, but also show disrespect to the people who voted for Brexit, and the process they took part in. Yes, politicians lied, but the key would be to learn from this and fix the system – make the media neutral, make politicians accountable to truth, etc – and not simply go backwards by a year and disempower people who feel like they’ve finally been listened to. The country needs us to move on, the EU isn’t perfect, and perhaps we do just need to accept it and try to keep good trade and relationships.
Theresa May believes Brexit is her strength. Yet, personally, she’s second best even in comparison to Corbyn. May wholeheartedly supported remaining in the EU, changing her mind only when it would grant her more power and riches. Corbyn, when asked how certain he was about staying in the EU during the campaign, told Sky News he was “7, 8” out of 10, settling on “7 and a half”. Of all the leaders, Corbyn appeared to be the only one saying he could see both sides. So, in reality, the only one able to honestly negotiate on both side’s behalf.
Add to this Corbyn’s willingness to talk to and charm his opponents, to broker rather than May’s outdated 1980’s window salesman negotiating tactic of dogged, dishonest hostility. It shows Corbyn is more suited to negotiating in the modern world. A man of principle who his opponents know will not U-turn, but will make fair demands. Almost the opposite is true of May – she makes unreasonable demands, changes her mind based on what it does for her personally, and u-turns constantly (most recently on big policies on social care, the self-employed and even the election itself).
But this isn’t just about the leaders, it is the negotiating teams who do it on their behalf. In David Davis, Theresa May is leaving the country in the hands of a career politician whose experience is to be found mainly in back-bench Westminster politics, with the small experience of having worked in the sugar industry. Corbyn, by contrast, has opted for Keir Starmer QC – not just one of the countries top lawyers, but someone who has been Director of Public Prosecutions and head of the Crown Prosecution Service. This is not even a fair comparison; there’s not a person in the country who, given the chance, would hire Davis over Starmer to negotiate their divorce. And this is the most important divorce settlement the UK has ever been involved in.
Rationalists have classically believed that politics is outwith the realm of evidence-based endeavours. But the above shows it isn’t. In this election, every party will engage in spin and bias, but not every party is equal in it. The Tories are offering very little in terms of evidence-based policies or progress, whilst Labour have put forth an agenda which, even if they fall short – and the neutral IFS (Institute for Fiscal Studies) believe they very well might – they will still transform Britain unimaginably for the better. It’s ambitious it’s exciting, it’s positive and it’s well-thought out.
As a rationalist looking for clarity as this election, there is only one choice: it’s Labour.