Tag Archives: Labour

Another political about-turn

It is exactly 2 years since I wrote a post entitled ‘Adieu Labour – the end of a personal political era‘.  This post described my disenchantment with the Labour Party at the time, and my decision to join the LibDems, after 2 years of being a member of no party.  At the time I could really see no way back to Labour (for me), and genuinely believed some kind of realignment of the centre left in UK politics might become a reality. Thinking back to 26 July 2015, it was slightly less than a year before the Euro referendum, and like many, I expected a Remain result. I also expected Cameron’s government to run full term, to 2020. Fast forward a year, and the disastrous Brexit result, and then a year later, Theresa May’s snap election, and the whole political landscape looks very different. While Vince Cable will undoubtedly be a good leader for the LibDems, possibly even encouraging some social democratic thinking in the party, it will take a long time for that to have an impact, and time is something we don’t have!

As it is, May’s government continues to hobble along, supported by the DUP.  Labour did very well in the election, and although I did question at the time whether some of the promises made were deliverable, they are still the best placed party to win a future election, and to make a difference. I have some political differences with Jeremy Corbyn, but Labour is still a ‘broad church’, with a wide range of views represented. Chuka Ummuna, for example, strongly advocates remaining in the single market, and my local MP, Paul Farrelly, has been consistently strongly pro-Europe.

The upshot of all this is that I have left the LibDems and re-joined Labour. I want to do what I can to help them win a future election, as, in my opinion the country has had enough of the ‘pay the deficit or bust’ policies of the Tories. Unfortunately the LibDems have no realistic chance of any kind of influence at the moment, although I am grateful to them for having me for two years, during which time I had a lot of interesting discussions, particularly with George Kendall when we set up the Social Democrat Group.

So, somewhat unexpectedly, a new era starts. Having got involved locally with the LibDems, something I never did before with Labour, I will almost certainly do something similar locally with Labour. Interesting times lie ahead.

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Adieu Labour – the end of a personal political era

In my last post, I mentioned that I had joined the Liberal Democrats, after a 40+ year association with the Labour Party.  Such a drastic change calls for some discussion, which I will attempt now.

My association with Labour can be dated back to my childhood and early teenage years. My parents both voted Labour, and so it was probably only natural that I chose that political direction. We moved from Ealing to East Anglia when I was 5, and lived in a solid Conservative area, but since moving back to London and then to North Staffordshire, I have always lived in Labour constituencies. The first General Election I voted in was in 1979, when Margaret Thatcher won.

With the current media frenzy over the Labour leadership elections a lot has been said about the 1980s. I remember clearly when Michael Foot was elected leader then. With Thatcher at the height of her powers, there was some euphoria that a left wing leader had been elected, but it all came crashing down when Labour lost the 1983 General Election. It took a long time, until Tony Blair’s election victory in 1997 to see Labour in power again, and I joined the party that year.

I identified with the New Labour movement, which I saw as a successful attempt to make Labour policies appeal to a wider audience than their traditional supporters, a definite prerequisite to winning an election (which is still true now). When Blair stood down and Gordon Brown took over,  things started going wrong, as I saw it.  Brown didn’t have the charisma to lead the party, and I felt that there were other more suitable candidates, but because of his infamous ‘pact’ with Blair, he became leader and PM.  With the banking crisis in 2008, and Brown’s unpopularity, Labour’s defeat in the 2010 General Election seemed inevitable.

After Labour’s 2010 General Election defeat, rather like now, the slow process to elect a new leader began. In my blog posts from the time, I talked about my support for David Miliband, and the election of his brother as leader was, I felt, counterproductive for the future success of the party. But I gave Ed a chance, and only finally resigned my membership over the Syria vote in 2013, although it was probably the last of a number of straws!

Since 2013, until a week ago, I continued to try to be a Labour supporter (if not a party member), and voted for them in the election this year. But my misgivings about the party had been building up for some time by then. The future of the trade union link, for example, seems very tenuous, and it is hard to see how the party will be able to survive in its present form without it. Then there has been the endless speculation about the leadership election, with none of the candidates convincing me that they could lead the party and give it meaning and worth once again. The worrying potential lurch to the left, with Jeremy Corbyn’s apparent popularity, reminds me of 1983 (as mentioned above), and there is no doubt in my mind that if Corbyn is elected leader, Labour will be in the political wilderness for even longer than during the Thatcher-Major years.

My decision to join the Liberal Democrats was partly a result of  my total frustration with Labour, but also because I wanted to be able to support the causes that are important to me, rather than listening to continuing bickering and infighting! The Conservative government have a small majority, but one which should enable them to do what they want, and Labour is no opposition at the moment (abstaining over the welfare bill for example). Issues like EU membership and Human Rights are important to me, and these are important for the Lib Dems too, while Labour seem to hardly discuss them.

It’s early times still, and I don’t yet know what contribution I’ll be able to make, beyond my membership, to the revival of the Liberal Democrats. But for now it is good to be a member of a party which has elected a strong leader and knows where it is going. I’m sorry for Labour, but it’s a relief that it is no longer my concern!

A political transformation

I’ve often said in this blog that I am a lifelong Labour Party supporter. I’ve voted Labour since my first General Election (in 1979), and was a party member from 1997-2013. Even after I left the party (for reasons discussed in a previous post), I continued to support them, including in the run-up to this year’s General Election.

I finally lost patience with them due to several factors, including the conduct of the leadership elections, and the deputy (and acting) leader’s actions with regard to the disgraceful welfare bill that was passed with a small majority last night. Had Labour not abstained, the bill would have been defeated. In doing this, Labour not only let themselves down, but everyone they stand for, in my opinion.

Things are pretty awful politically at the moment for anyone with centre to left leanings, with the Conservatives able to do almost anything they want, and I am frustrated if I can’t get involved in politics to some extent, and to try to do something about the many important issues like human rights, EU membership etc.

The result of all this is that yesterday I took the decision to join the Liberal Democrats. They seem to be the only decent party left in UK politics, and I have enough in common with them to agree with most of what they stand for.

So I enter a new political phase. I haven’t worked out all the details of this yet, but no doubt there will be some blog posts about this soon!