It’s catching on: why I’m joining Labour as well!
This article was first posted on LabourList on Friday 19th June
It was interesting to read AP’s post Why I’m joining Labour on LabourList just a day or two after I also finally took the plunge, and decided to join the Labour Party.
I have many things in common with AP – including other people’s sense of incredulity at why I’m doing this now of all times. I admit that it’s been something of a ‘coming out’ for me, and many people have congratulated me and admired me for my courage (but I suspect haven’t rushed to join up themselves!).
My reasons for joining though are different to AP’s – perhaps because I’m somewhat older, by around 20 years, and I found myself disagreeing with some of the points he makes. First off the mark I’d say that this is in itself a reason why I’m attracted to the party – it’s not a place where everyone thinks exactly the same – it’s a place where people have broadly similar ideas, and I think the party is flexible and strong enough to cope with that.
Where AP has never experienced a non-Labour government, I spent much of my life experiencing nothing but a Conservative government – in fact the disillusionment of Margaret Thatcher being elected as I cast my vote for the first time, and Labour’s subsequent failure to get her out of office put me off politics for many years.
My own arrival in the party though will not in any way be part of a lurch to the left. Those years demonstrated to me that the British public generally simply did not want a far left Government – although at the time I myself did. Whatever you may want personally, though, politics is about democracy, negotiation and consensus – and the modernisation of the Labour party which occurred most visibly to outsiders (like myself) under John Smith, and then Tony Blair was what I felt made the party accessible to the whole of society and not just working class die-hards, or philosophically minded academics. It offered an alternative to the Tory greed and inequity, which was available, for instance, to hardworking doctors, nurses and engineers, and businessmen, as well as the equally hard working – but more traditional Labour voters – the miners, and manufacturers. In other words – to use a worn out phrase – to “middle England”.
As a working class boy, who has become a successful professional adult, it would be dishonest of me to claim that I am not part of this middle England. Does this make me ‘New’ Labour? A Blairite? Or a Brownite? Well, know what? I don’t have a clue, and really don’t care – the New Labour government was elected in 1997 – so by anybody’s reckoning it’s not new any more. I support Labour, and am now a member – that’s good enough for me.
So why did I join? It’s clear that the party, and politicians in general are experiencing deep unpopularity at present, as was demonstrated at the European and local elections recently. But what is the answer to that? To not vote? To vote for fascists and fringe groups? To vote for the Tories who decimated my early (non) working life? – Yes OK – when hell freezes over!
No I decided that I should take a more principled stand – and to become a member, and try to become part of sorting out the problems that face the party and politics in general – and help make sure that we don’t return to the dark days of Tory rule.
There are those who would have you believe that Labour has had 12 years of failure. Well it’s been a damn sight better than the preceding 18!
AP’s article was suffixed by Harold Wilson’s statement that “Labour is a moral crusade or it is nothing”. That is my belief – and that is why I’m proud to be a part of that crusade and part of the Labour Party.
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