So long, Party Politics, it’s been emotional.
“Dear Labour Party,
This is hard for me to write…it’s not me, it’s you.
I didn’t vote for you. There I’ve said it.
I didn’t think I would go through with it but I did. I thought, that faced with my pencil hovering above a box without your name on it, I would fold, realise that we could get through this, that this time you meant what you said, that this time you wouldn’t betray me by following Tory spending plans, that this time you wouldn’t cheat on me with mainstream media.
But then I remembered you had said that last time. And the time before that. And….you know….”
Thus would begin my “Dear John” letter to the latest incarnation of the “Labour” party that I grew up supporting and campaigning for. I sit here overcome with peculiar emotions at having turned my back on something that has been with me for as long as I remember.
It is like a break up. I’ll miss them. I already do. I am filled with regret that it turned out this way. I worry for them that they’ll look after themselves. I’m worried they’ll choose someone hideous as a rebound (Ed Balls). But I am also slightly thrilled by what the future might hold. And, if I am honest, I am kind of hoping they see me out and about with my shinier, more hopeful and less cynical, new ‘squeeze’ who has replaced them.
Writing this has been inspired by getting involved in something I swore I wouldn’t ever do again: arguing on the internet. So instead of filling up some poor friend’s timeline with my poorly punctuated ranting and to save my thumbs, I thought I’d pour forth my tuppence worth here:
For a long time now, my timelines have been filled with old friends steadfastly pinning their colours to time honoured masts. But whichever way you cut it, identifying yourself as a tribalist of any denomination, regardless of actual policy or track record is reductionist, lazy and, frankly, a fucking cop out. Politics is supposed to be about hope, change and the greater good. Not cynicism, apathy and petty tribalism.
Conservative government, Labour government, Conservative government, Labour government, rinse repeat. It’s like that Macdonalds prize giving campaign where you used to win a big Mac every time you bought won. The result was always the same: constipation.
Here’s another metaphor: If I shat in my hands and then clapped, there would be a predictable outcome: I would cover myself in shit. So, if after having done this two or three times, you then saw me preparing to do it again, you might well ask me, “Why? You’ve done that so many times and it didn’t turn out well. Have you not learnt your lesson” And if my response was, “because at least I’m not a fucking Tory”, you would quite understandably think I may have over medicated.
And that is what many, who like me, consider themselves to be, broadly speaking, left, are doing: Over medicating.
Numbing themselves from the despair they feel.
We slept walked, in a light headed, squiffy, fair trade chardonnay induced drunken stupor into Tony Fucking Blair (@Tony Blair Inc.) We thought “things can only get better” didn’t we? And then, you know, he stood on that lectern at the Royal festival hall on that May morning and mentioned the fucking dawn and tried to sound like Russell Crowe in Gladiator, while he was actually planning to cut single mother’s benefits and introduce tuition fees and fantasised about fucking Mrs Murdoch.
And then we thought that again after Iraq. Jesus wept….Did we? Did we fucking really? Really, really?
I have been trying to avoid justifying my decision by pointing out I haven’t voted Tory (or UKIP) but honestly, I lack the courage to leave anyone thinking that. There is a world of difference between feeling that the Labour party haven’t done nearly enough to earn back my precious vote and quite simply losing my mind or my soul (and yes all votes are all precious…even in safe seats).
Yes, of course we need a change of Government. The Tory’s ideologically driven obsession with the ‘deficit’ is just smoke and mirrors. They just want them and their well off friends to pay less tax and to help the poor and needy less. Same old, same old.
But to see Ed Miliband racing to embrace the ‘controlled immigration’ trope that UKIP have so successfully, and so damagingly, introduced into the political lexicon is depressing beyond belief.
To see him avoid justifying his part in, and to not accept responsibility for, so much of the last Labour administration’s destruction of our public services and our welfare state is likewise piss poor. Remember who introduced tuition fees? Public Private Partnerships in the NHS and London Underground? Ridiculous, headline satisfying, targets in schools and hospitals that have left our Doctors working 90 hour weeks and more teachers leaving the profession than are joining it? Labour front benchers using parliamentary expenses to pay mortgages on second homes that they then rent out?
And don’t even get me started on Iraq…and why Ed avoided voting for an inquiry….10 times.
Ok, enough is enough. You get my point. So what do I want the future to bring?
On Friday morning I hope, Whitehall wakes up with one hell of a hangover. As they stir themselves awake, the duvet moves next to them and they realise they’ve shagged that person they’ve always hated and now they have to deal with aftermath like a grown up. Because they can’t leave. They can’t find their pants.
In other words, I hope we, collectively as voters, of all denominations, have given traditional, lazy, party politicians such an almighty kick between the legs, that they realise they really can’t continue like this any more. We elect them to work with one another for our collective good. Not to satisfy themselves, their egos, their cronies or their supporters in the media.
I pray for another coalition….this time a rainbow one. Left? Of course, but only if it is truly left and truly representative of what should be a broad church.
Led by Ed?
Only if he is grown up enough to forget about trying to be popular, or looking cool eating a bacon sarnie, and is true to his beliefs.
Only if he listens to what his coalition partners, and every single voter who voted for them, has to say.
And I pray they are too fucking scared and ashamed to ever fail us again.
Every vote counts. Every single one. Treasure yours and respect it. Don’t waste it unimaginatively or cynically because you think ‘your’ party won’t get in and you don’t want ‘their’ party to get in.
Let’s leave behind ‘them’ and ‘us’. It makes us as bad as each other. And actually, we should strive to be as good as each other.
Let’s make it ‘we’. As in, ‘we’ voted for this. ‘We’ voted for change and for hope and for compassion and for fairness.
And then when the change finally comes, and it will, one day it will, you can say;
“We did that”.