By far the most interesting quiz I found was election.theyworkforyou.com, which includes comments from the local PPCs.
Local IssuesThere is an obvious response to most of the local issues: "why is this a matter for MPs?". Nevertheless, some of the answers were revealing. Here's a selection:
Extra public money should be spent on the provision of more affordable housing for families.
My view: Strongly Disagree — nobody is entitled to a house, much less a house in Oxford. The use of taxpayers' money to subsidise housing is immoral and counterproductive. There are better ways to support those who fall on bad times.
The government should fund the re-opening of the Varsity Railway Line to provide better East-West transport links between Oxford and Cambridge.
My view: Disagree — Of all the ways government can burn our money, infrastructure projects like rail links are among the least bad, but they are still likely to fail a cost-benefit analysis. I don't know about the specifics of the "Varsity Railway Line", but I assume it closed because it was uneconomic. If subsidy is required, let it be voluntary. There is no such thing as "government funds", and government should not be in the business of "job creation" — they should simply step out of the way, and stop inhibiting natural job creation by private firms who offer services that people actually value.
The 20mph speed limits around Oxford should in many cases be lifted.
My view: Strongly Agree — Responsible drivers already did 20 where it was appropriate. Irresponsible drivers continue to drive irresponsibly despite the lower limits. We now have the added harm caused by a minority of obedient citizens following the 20 limits in areas where they are completely inappropriate. Congestion increases; zombie driving is encouraged; overtaking cyclists is more difficult; and countless innocent people are delayed and enraged.
On the other hand, this is the council's problem; we shouldn't expect Westminster to intervene.
The East Oxford mosque should be allowed to broadcast a call to prayer.
My view: Disagree — The rights of residents to quiet enjoyment of their lives and properties trumps the desire by Muslims to promote their religion. This is not racism or Islamophobia. If Christian leaders were to propose loudspeaker announcements from Christ Church Cathedral, or Richard Dawkins were to propose loudspeaker announcements from the Natural History Museum, I would be equally opposed.
Increased CCTV on Cowley Road is a good thing.
My view: Disagree — CCTV is ineffective at countering antisocial behaviour. The problems we face are more fundamental. It is telling that Andrew Smith is strongly in favour of more CCTV cameras. It is a typical New Labour response: spy on innocent people, while letting yobs and criminals run riot.
Tesco should develop the site of the former Fox & Hounds pub, or sell it to someone who will.
My view: Neutral — I suspect there are good reasons why Tesco isn't developing the site (potentially involving planning restrictions), but I don't know the details. Again, I am disturbed if not surprised by Andrew Smith's enthusiasm for meddling in local affairs, and by his lack of respect for private property.
The Temple Cowley swimming facilities should be closed.
My view: Agree — The role of the state is to uphold the Rule of Law, not to provide swimming pools. Nobody has a right to aquatic exercise. Swimming pools should be privately owned, and any subsidy should be voluntary.
National IssuesThe answers from the mainstream candidates on national issues — their proper domain — were even more frightening.
Many people think taxes will have to rise in the next parliament to cut Britain's budget deficit. If they do, any increases should disproportionately be paid by higher earners.
My view: Disagree — I think tax rises will be counterproductive, and "soak-the-rich" taxation will be especially counterproductive (though I wonder who counts as a "higher earner"). That said, I agree that the poorest in the UK suffer an especially unreasonable tax burden, and I support moves to increase the threshold at which income tax is paid. We need to fundamentally overhaul the tax and benefits system so that work always pays, and tax avoidance isn't a problem. Ultimately, income tax should be abolished altogether.
The British government interferes too much with business.
My view: Strongly Agree — I find it terrifying (if unsurprising) that the Lib-Lab candidates disagree with this assertion. Corporation tax, Employers' NI, and Capital Gains tax discourage investment and job creation. Regulation for "product quality" rarely achieves the desired result, and almost always favours large, established companies, to the detriment of entrepreneurs and consumers. The Health & Safety culture promoted by our government has done immense damage to our national work ethic and sense of personal responsibility, while causing tension between employees and employers. Labour laws hurt those who they purport to help. Equal opportunity laws are unnecessary, immoral, and counterproductive. Anti-smoking laws applied to private businesses constrain voluntary transactions between consenting adults, and have done immense damage to the British pub industry. The government even denies businesses the right to refuse trade. The list goes on and on, but Labour, the Lib Dems, and especially the Green Party are not content with the current level of interference. Where would they stop?
Government should tackle climate change aggressively even if it means energy bills go up.
My view: Strongly Disagree — The science of Anthropogenic Global Warming is far from settled. Even if the planet is warming, and it is our fault, adaptation is a much more realistic policy than prevention. Aggressive government action is the worst possible response.
It would be a big problem if Britain became more economically unequal over the next 5 years.
My view: Disagree — Prosperity is more important than equality. It is true that the rise in inequality is a damning indictment of New Labour: they have failed on their own terms. I also deplore the prospect of further government-induced inequality, such the EU subsidies highlighted by Julia Gasper. People should be set free to find their own proper level, without help or hinderance; with hard work and innovation, we will see a rising tide that benefits us all, especially the poorest.
Despite the recession, Britain should increase spending on public sector services.
My view: Strongly Disagree — it's hard to imagine a more disastrous course of action. There were good reasons for the fall of Communism. We had a taste of Soviet life back in the 70s, and it nearly destroyed us. How quickly we forget.
The responses from the candidates here are astounding. The UKIP candidate suggests that once freed from the dead hand of Brussels, we should "improve pensions, spend more on state schools and abolish university tuition fees". Nationalist, Statist, and Populist — UKIP in a nutshell.
The prize, though, goes to Sushila Dhall, the Green Party candidate: "we do not believe public money should be going into the private sector".
People should provide for their own retirement, and not demand the state to help them do so.
My view: Strongly Agree — The National Insurance system is a Ponzi scheme, doomed to collapse. State pensions are paid not from genuine savings, but by current taxpayers. This fraudulent system must be abolished, and citizens left free to save and invest according to their own preferences. The government shouldn't even nudge citizens towards saving by providing "tax relief for pensions contributions". All savings, and interest on savings, should be exempt from tax.
If citizens are allowed to keep the majority of their earnings, rather than have it confiscated and squandered, they will be more than capable of providing for their own retirement. The government should also abandon interest rate manipulation, which discourages saving. Most importantly, they should resist the great stealth tax of monetary debasement, which hits the poorest hardest, and turns economic logic upside down.
The arts in Britain should pay for themselves, and not rely on Government subsidy.
My view: Strongly Agree — "Government subsidy" is a euphemism for "confiscated wealth". I think we'll find that the arts will thrive in a prosperous, low-tax society. If they do not, so be it — it would suggest that people would rather spend their own money on other luxuries.
Importantly, freely commissioned art reflects the values and desires of its patrons. Publicly funded art too often serves as propaganda.
The new British government should begin negotiations to leave the European Union.
My view: Strongly Agree. Andrew Smith trots out the standard objection that “this would be very damaging to our economic interests”, but as Roger Crawford correctly observes, “Norway and Switzerland are doing all right! We aren't.”
Even if Iran develops a nuclear weapon, Britain should not support any military action against Iran.
My view: Neutral, on account of the poorly-worded question. Our national interest isn't served by the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, but unlike many libertarians, I am not necessarily opposed to pre-emptive military action. WWII is a good example of when early intervention could have avoided terrible devastation. Easy to say in retrospect, though; we should never go to war lightly.
British troops should stay in Afghanistan as long as they are needed.
My view: Disagree — If the mission in Afghanistan were clear and winnable, which it is not, it would still be difficult to argue that the British contribution is vital. Staying in Afghanistan is not endearing us to the Afghans, it is not reducing the threat of terrorism in Britain, and it is not earning us any favours from Obama. If we leave, the Americans will stay (or go), out of consideration for their own self interest.
Britain spends too much money on foreign aid.
My view: Strongly Agree. The foreign aid budget should be zero. If we really want to help improve the lives of billions of people in the Third World, we should withdraw from the EU, abandon farm subsidies, and trade freely.
It is especially ridiculous that we are borrowing in order to give, and absurd that foreign aid goes to African dictators and at least one country with a space programme.
Even disasters such as the Haitian earthquake can be adequately covered by true charity.
ThoughtsOh, to have had a libertarian candidate to vote for. I suppose I should have taken it upon myself.
Of course, the responses I gave above would make me completely unelectable in today's Britain.
We have a long and difficult fight ahead of us.