Choosing who to vote for in the 2024 UK General Election

Update: I just discussed this with my son and I really want to emphasise:

It does make a difference who is in power.

The previous Labour government significantly improved primary education and many other public services. Don’t lose hope!

Here are the criteria I will use to select which party to vote for in the 2024 UK General Election.


I will be voting against the Conservative party because it has comprehensively proven itself to be incompetent at managing both the economy and public services.

Ideological blindness

I will be voting against the Conservative party because its policies have been driven by blind ideology (e.g. the Truss economic disaster) and/or the perceived prejudices of their core voters (e.g. the “ship them off to Rwanda” immigration policy).

Public services

I will be voting for a party that I believe is committed to improving our public services, especially the NHS, education and prisons. This will involve channelling funds when available, but also good-faith work to change working practices and improve working conditions and outcomes for patients, pupils and prisoners.

For bonus points I’d like to see water companies and rail services gradually moved into public control. Transport For London offers an excellent model for public/private partnership in rail. Water is a total mess so I’m looking for a party that is willing to take ownership for fixing the problems with water and sewage management.


I will be voting for a party that I believe is willing to invest optimistically in the energy transition to realise the climate and economic benefits of making significant progress soon. I want regulation and financial incentives that punish polluting and carbon-emitting behaviour and invest in innovation.


I will be voting for a party who I trust to speak truthfully about immigration: we benefit economically from immigration, and we rely on immigration in many areas, not least universities. We should manage economic migration, working to integrate people and working with local councils to provide housing and public services where people are arriving. Pretending we don’t need immigrants makes us unable to tackle the real strains large numbers of arrivals can put on a particular area.

We should establish safe routes for refugees to travel to the UK, and we should urgently act to process the backlog of asylum claims. We must remove the backlog if we want to discourage spurious asylum claims. It may even be necessary to declare an amnesty if that is the only way to clear the backlog.

Foreign policy

I will be voting for a party that has a grown-up attitude to foreign policy: responding to the threat from hostile actors like Russia, and speaking out over matters of human rights. I remember when there was debate about whether South African apartheid was “any of our business”. History has shown that it was our business, and we should have applied maximum non-military pressure to bring apartheid to an end. I believe the situation in Israel/Palestine will be viewed similarly when we have hindsight, and we should act now with public statements, trade sanctions and legal action.

We should use our influence to advocate for those who are oppressed across the world, and (of course) we should lead by example with the highest standards of justice and fairness in our own country.

We should stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia and Israel and significantly tighten regulation around arms sales to countries engaged in military action that fails to minimise harm to civilians.


I will be voting for a party who are willing to make the changes needed to provide more houses. This will involve changing rules to make it easier to build homes, and to incentivise building homes, not sitting on land. It will also likely involve the government or councils building and renting quality homes at low rents.

Bonus: universal basic income

I’d love to see someone propose a serious plan for universal basic income. Our benefits system already acknowledges the right of all people to food, housing, water and other services.

Our health system gives freedom to everyone to plan for their future life without dreading a massive bill if something goes wrong. Let’s give a similar freedom to everyone that if their job or business idea falls through, they can still survive. Imagine the explosion of innovation and artistic expression that could spring from this freedom!

Letter to my MP: using starvation as a weapon

Dear Ben Spencer,

The behaviour of Hamas on 7th October and afterwards is inexcusable, and is rightly condemned by our government.

I believe that the ongoing behaviour of the Israeli government in response to these attacks is inexcusable, and should be condemned in the strongest terms.

Human Rights Watch reports:

* Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on October 19 that Israel would not allow humanitarian assistance “in the form of food and medicines” into Gaza through its crossings “as long as our hostages are not returned.”

* What’s been happening on the ground, backed by such top-level statements from Israeli leaders, is “reflecting an intent to starve civilians as a method of warfare”.

* Israel’s continuing blockade of Gaza, not to mention its illegal closure of Gaza for more than 16 years, amounts to collective punishment of the civilian population.

* The government of Israel needs to immediately stop weaponizing starvation, and concerned governments should call on Israel to do so.

(Reference: )

Please urge our government to condemn these actions, and work for a lasting peace.

Yours sincerely,

Andy Balaam

(Feel free to re-use my wording in similar letters.)

Why I’m voting tactically against you – letter to my Conservative MP

Here’s the letter I just sent to my MP. Feel free to use it in full or in part.

Dear Ben Wallace,

Last night I made the decision to vote tactically against you at the next election, and I felt I owed you an explanation.

I now feel that any of the likely alternatives is a better option than a continuation of your government. I have four main reasons.

1. Refugee Crisis

Our government’s catastrophic policy of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda is immoral, illegal and, I hope and believe, impossible to achieve.

It is destroying our international reputation.

Whenever you get a chance to vote against Suella Braverman or anyone else from the hateful wing of your party, please take it.

2. Climate Crisis

Our government is asleep at the wheel. Carbon reduction should be at the centre of every part of government policy, and wholesale energy transition should be the most important consideration for our budget and policy.

In order for our world as we know it to survive, we need to act now. Further, if the UK acts quickly it still has the chance to be a world leader and benefit financially from the opportunities offered by new technology.

Instead, we are trailing behind on our carbon commitments, and failing to meet our promises on help for countries suffering the early effects.

3. NHS Crisis

There are not enough staff in the NHS and those that remain are worn out. As a former doctor I’m sure I don’t need to explain the situation to you.

I’m sure reform is needed, but the most urgent need is for money. I want to pay more tax to invest in a future where my healthcare is secure. I don’t want to live in a society where the risk of losing my job or becoming long-term sick makes me unable to access healthcare. I take huge comfort from the knowledge that the NHS has my back, and your government appears to be actively working to take that away.

4. International Aid Cuts

The enormous cut in our international aid budget (notwithstanding the pathetic attempt to mask it by redirecting funds towards domestic Home Office spending on the refugee crisis) is disastrous for millions of people around the world, and takes away one of our most effective tools for preventing refugees from needing to escape their home countries.

I’m afraid there is little you can do to prevent any of the above, but I wish you well trying, and for picking up the pieces after the landslide defeat I hope and trust is on its way. I encourage you to try and re-enter the centre ground of politics rather than sliding further towards the hateful wing.


Andy Balaam

Air-Source Heat Pump – 1 year later

10 months ago I wrote a blog post Air-Source Heat Pump – our experience so far, 2 months in about our new air source heat pump. Have a look back at that for photos of the device itself and more detail about installation etc.

Less energy

We used a lot less energy this year than last year. Here’s the graph for 2 years:

Graph showing 2 years of energy usage on gas and electricity. Gas usage stops halfway through because a heat pump was installed. The second year's gas usage is much lower than the first, especially during the heavy use, cold months.

As you can see, we used a lot less energy in kWh this year than last year. Air source heat pumps work!

More money

Our energy cost more this year than last year. I’ve calculated this graph based on fixed prices, and I used 2021 prices to keep consistency with the last blog post, but the real-prices story is similar. Here is the graph for the last 2 years:

Graph showing energy cost per day over 2 years. The first half shows gas usage, which drops to zero in the middle when a heat pump was installed. The second half is higher, showing that the cost of the electricity this year was more than last year. Towards the end, solar panels were installed and the cost drops below last year.

Why did our cost go up when our energy usage went down so dramatically?

Because electricity is too expensive!

Electricity is the right way to power our cars and homes, because it can be sourced sustainably, and in fact much of it really is being sourced sustainably right now.

Artificially-high electricity prices are preventing people switching to a better way.

Solar panels help!

In September this year we had solar panels installed. They look great and are working incredibly well. We were getting 10kWh per day from them in September. We don’t have a battery yet, but when it arrives we think we will be able to cover most of our summer energy costs using these panels.

Since the panels were installed, our reduced use of grid electricity meant that our energy costs for this year dropped below last year. Obviously it’s too soon to say for sure what the full impact is, but I can say we are very happy with our solar panels.

Our house is cozy

Our new heat pump heats our leaky house very well, and we are nice and cozy, even when temperatures outside drop below zero. The heat pump is less efficient when it’s cold outside, but still way better than a gas boiler.

Installed by Your Energy Your Way

[My wife used to be director of the company, so I declare an interest.]

Our heat pump, radiators and panels were installed by Your Energy Your Way and I can recommend them for good communication, service and quality.

Deporting desperate people from the UK

Letter to my MP on deporting refugees to Rwanda, 2022-06-06.

Dear Ben Spencer,

Please do what you can to reverse the policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda.

We are breaking our proud tradition of commitment to refugees.

This policy seems to have the intention of preventing people from drowning while attempting to enter the UK. Instead of ruling people’s claims “inadmissable” because they were desperate enough to enter by a dangerous route, we should provide safe routes for people escaping war and harm.

I am sure this policy was drafted with good intent, but immediately it started we have seen disproportionate numbers of Sudanese people being deported to Rwanda [1] verses other nationalities. Even within the parameters of its own flawed morality, this policy is unfair in practice. It should be stopped immediately.


Yours sincerely,

Andy Balaam

If you want to write a similar letter, feel free to use any of the above if it’s helpful. I used as a very easy way to find your MP and send a message.