Politically we live in depressing times in the UK, at least for me. The Conservative side of the coalition seem to be lurching to the right in response to the (perceived) rise in popularity of UKIP, and their pathetic partners the LibDems have given up trying to have any influence (witness Norman Baker’s recent exit). Meanwhile we have a General Election coming up next year.
I described myself as an ‘old unreconstructed socialist’ to a colleague recently, and I think that’s a fair description. I have always supported the Labour Party, and will continue to do so. I was a party member between 1997-2013, but resigned when I found I had too many areas of disagreement with the policies of Ed Miliband’s shadow cabinet (of which more discussion in a later post). Having said that, Labour remains the best and indeed the only acceptable option for the UK as far as I am concerned.
Among the things that depress me in general politically are attitudes to EU membership and immigration. EU membership is a bottom line essential for me, and that includes free movement of people and labour. Those that complain about EU immigration to the UK conveniently forget about the many UK citizens who live in other EU countries! David Cameron is destined to fail in his attempts to control free movement, because it is an absolute foundation stone of the EU. As for his declared intent to renegotiate our membership, that is doomed to failure as well, and we have to hope that his party don’t get a majority next year, otherwise a referendum seems likely, and there is so much misinformation around that an informed result is by no means predictable.
Regarding immigration from outside the EU, the ‘British jobs for British workers’ mantra being pedalled by both the Tories and (sadly) sometimes by Labour is just vindictive and nasty. We should have an open and inclusive immigration policy, welcoming immigrants with skills we need. Decisions on whether to allow immigration should be made purely on a needs basis, without emotion and right-wing Daily Mail style banter.
Looking ahead to next year’s General Election, to make any kind of prediction is fraught with risk. But I think there will be less LibDem MPs after the election, and that there is a chance of an overall, although small, majority for Labour. I don’t think UKIP will do as well as predicted by some; they may not even hang on to the seat they recently gained in Clacton, or to any other future by-election gains. They may however reduce Tory votes in some constituencies, which might in turn help the other parties. It all remains to be seen.
Just as I was finishing this post, the rumblings over Ed Miliband’s leadership of Labour started again. I’m going to address that issue separately in the following post.