Welcome to my blog. I document my adventures in travel, style, and food. Hope you have a nice stay!

I am rejoining the Labour Party to vote for Jeremy Corbyn... and then I'll probably leave again


There was no huge event that made me leave the Labour Party. My membership just kind of lapsed at some point between Blair assuming office in 1997 and the next election in 2001. I still voted Labour and was part of the Labour students' society at Leeds University, but even there I saw how the egos of MPs, invited as guest speakers, got the better of any desire to make the country a better place. One even self congratulated himself on a sound bite that was adopted by Blair's spin doctors, as if that was the sole reason to go into politics. I was also turned off by New Labour's control freakery that saw it weaken devolution for London purely because it didn't like its own candidate, Ken Livingstone. As result, one of the greatest cities on earth is stuck with a weak City mayor that has hitherto attracted only joke candidates to run for it, or those with eyes on a bigger prize. Mayor Boris Johnson can't even be bothered to relinquish the role, now that he is an MP. Clearly, he doesn't feel it needs his full attention.  

Corbyn: this generation's Tony Benn?  

Corbyn: this generation's Tony Benn?  

And then there was the Clintonian strategy of triangulation, of finding point C that seeks to form a compromise between points A and B. When it comes to treaty negotiation and diplomacy, such a philosophy may have merit, but when it is followed dogmatically, or simply to show that middle England has nothing to fear, all the party does is open the door ajar for the Tories to burst right in and max out the Faustian pact. The politics of fudge and of "electability" reduces concepts such as social equality and of civil liberties to mere obstacles in the road to gaining office rather than goals to seek whilst in office. It also leads to some terrible policy decisions, such as the proposal to allow private companies to maintain tube tracks instead of issuing public bonds to raise money for a 21st century public transportation system. Even the home of Wall Street, New York, managed that.

All this antipathy culminated in my decision in 2010 to actively cast a vote against Labour. Its decision to support 90 day detention without trial crossed a line. It showcased Labour's willingness to sacrifice anything, even the 1689 Bill of Rights, a founding principle of parliamentary democracy, for the sake of appearing tough. 

Flash forward to 2015. Ed Miliband was a deeply flawed leader, but I respected some of his policy positions: campaigning against holding a referendum on EU membership (a completely unnecessary and dangerous plebiscite); restoring the 50p rate on higher income earners; borrowing to invest in house building; a mansion tax and better regulation of energy markets. He did just enough to win me back. Yet a strange feeling came over me once I cast my ballot on 7th May. I knew almost instantly that I did something wrong. I didn't vote based on principles, but on habit (2010 notwithstanding). I voted for Labour, and almost immediately wished I hadn't. Ultimately, Miliband's party still supported austerity, which has not only seen the return of Victorian levels of inequality but killed the economy and increased the national debt.

My feelings towards the party now he has resigned have gone from unenthusiastic to openly hostile. The candidates standing to replace him are truly depressing. They are at best drones for the same old policies that have failed this country and at worst shameful opportunists who will do and say anything to get elected. They are probably both these things. The fact that they all felt the need to use the exact same language ("aspiration") and openly castigate their former leader, who they were happy to support when it looked like Labour might have become the largest party in parliament, highlights their lack of originality, and even their inability to fully understand why they actually lost.

Enter that rare breed of politician: a man with principles who is against austerity and who voted against the Iraq War. The other candidates will bang on about electability and on how the party can never win from the left (I still think that is the wrong analysis), but none of them had Jeremy Corbyn's judgement on the most important foreign policy decision since World War 2. This alone makes him the best candidate. 

If Corbyn does not become leader, which seems likely, albeit not completely out of the question, then thousands of people with progressive ideas will question whether the Labour Party can ever truly represent them again, or be in any small way a vehicle for social justice. They will look for a new home. I am already looking, despite rejoining two hours ago so that I can vote in perhaps the most significant leadership contest that any party has held since 1975.





The Source: George Best was no Robin Friday

Brixton Windmill