Oh, one last thing…

…should I join the Labour Party?

I’ve been officially none aligned as a blogger because nobody deserved my alignment.

Last month I campaigned for my Local Liberal Democrat David Rendel, and despite the Lib-Con coalition I don’t regret it. He’s a good man and committed to the local area. But, I can of course no longer support the Liberal Democrats.

The next Parliament is going to be tough and that means we need to get organised. I don’t plan on just blogging about how bad things get, I plan on getting organised. I suspect the Labour Party is the best vehicle for that.

One or two caveats here.

  1. There isn’t really much of a local party down my way. I don’t want to join a party for activists and not get active until I move to the big smoke come September.
  2. The national party don’t inspire me too much, and like I said, there’s not much of a local party for me.
  3. Mandleson.
  4. Can I forgive Labour for Iraq? Yarl’s Wood? PFI? FSA? Yielding to the tabloids?

At the moment a huge number of people are joining the Labour Party in anger and with a sense of betrayal.

I’m sick of doing politics against something rather than for something, so I’m not joining until I get my head together. But it seems like the Labour Party might be where I belong, or I might stay my current course and stay out of party politics altogether.

You lot are sympathetic to Labour:  Labour List, Phil, Dave and Paul, Carl, Chris, Paul, Hopi, Tom, Petra Boynton. So bloggers and visitors, what is your advice?

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23 thoughts on “Oh, one last thing…

  1. Why don’t you wait and see what happens? It is far more useful to have dragged the Conservative party away from the extreme right than anything else they could have done. There is no need to feel betrayed.

  2. If you think that Labour being run by those who brought in the New Labour project is the way to go then join.

    Their track record on illegal foreign wars, liberty, trade unions, education, big business, terrorism and neoliberalism certainly doesn’t sit on the fence. If you can support a continuation of that then join.

    I left them in 1983 as they were lurching well to the right back then. No sign of that slowing down yet. But no other party has caught my attention either.

    Yet the prospect of a few years in opposition might mean that the Blairites and Brownites might move on to other projects allowing the grass-roots membership to assert their authority.

    Don’t turn your nose up at local activism in difficult areas, it’s all good experience and without it a party dies.

    Why not look at the other parties on the left before you make any decision?

  3. I think if you join soon, then you will get a vote over who the next leader is, which is worth doing. e.g. it will mean you can support a leader who can address caveats 2 & 4.

    As for caveat 3, Mandelson’s going anyway (though will prob be in the background), and as for local activism, there is nothing which says that if you join the Labour Party it would stop you doing any other kinds of activism! Most of us combine Labour membership with all sorts of other campaigns and so on.

    1. I can certainly get involved with local activism without a local party, but there’s no local labourites to convince me one way or the other ’tis all.

      One vote for the next leader isn’t really worth much in the theme of schemes. John McDonnell isn’t going to lose by one vote.

  4. Like you, I’m lost.
    The LibDems have lost my vote. It’s making me cringe this morning as I read a number of LibDem bloggers going “YAY” at ID cards being dropped at the price of the Tories implementing their “welfare manifesto” in full, or rejoicing that Chris Huhne is going to be Energy Secretary but wearing blinkers at proper right-wingers like Osborne, Hague and Fox grabbing the Cabinet posts that matter.

    However, mate. I can’t forget what Labour have done for 13 years. They will have a load of work to do to show that they’ve changed. And it doesnt look good at all. Look at the range of likely leaders. The Milibands (basically Blair part two, just duller), Ed Balls, Harriet Harman. The Blairite part of the party has taken over completely.

    1. I am somewhat disgusted with what Labour have done over the last 13 years. However, as both Pauls have pointed out, they’ve done a lot of good too.

      The Lib Dems in my view haven’t won much, but of course only time will tell whether they will cut of the Tory right and empower the liberal tories which exist.

  5. As it happens, I’ve written 20,000 words on this very subject: http://thoughcowardsflinch.com/2010/05/12/the-fifth-tradition/

    But in short, yes, you should join, though it shouldn’t be held against you (much) if you express your activism differently.

    Claude says: ‘I can’t forget what Labour have done for 13 years. They will have a load of work to do to show that they’ve changed.’

    Yes, I understand the hurt, but to always say ‘they’ rather than ‘we’ is ultimately defeatist. Labours’ where it’s at.

  6. I was going to say “wait till you see who the leader is” – because I’m one of those people who thinks that Labour are only contingently good, not absolutely under all circumstances and any leader.

    But Don’s point here makes me think again. Would you want to influence the leadership?

    I would still say hold off. Looking back on myself I was not qualified to know what political party really suited my views till I was about 30 ….

    1. I know what you mean with not being ready until I might be 30, but things are happening now, so I doubt I have that option. I wonder whether Labour membership will help me achieve the ends I want, and I’m not sure. But then I suppose a lot of that is because I still don’t know everything that I want.

      Who the leader is, and when I move to london, what my local party is like, will probably prove to be the most important things.

  7. Stay outside of any party and you can be free to attack them all. However if you do join, join on pragmatic and objective grounds. By that I mean don’t join because your parents and ancestors did. Nor join because you hate the Tories/LibDems. Nor join because you think socialism is heaven and conservatism is hell.

    I myself can’t be happier that Labour are out since they introduced thousands of new (mostly pointless) laws. The ID card is one example of a extremely costly (look at any government’s history on IT projects, always over budget and over time) project with minimal benefit to the population but great benefit to the government to monitor the population. If you think ID cards are good and that terrorism laws are good just look at the recent cases where professional photographers are being arrested for taking pictures of buildings. This was supposed to stop terrorism, but instead is being used by the police to hit easy targets and up their own targets.

    1. “Stay outside of any party and you can be free to attack them all.”

      Fun, and makes for good blogging, but life’s too short to not make an impact and joining Labour might be the best way to do so.

  8. At least wait until they have a new leader. It’ll be interesting to see who replaces Brown. It is likely that the new leader will be from the next generation, which will mean an almost total generational shift in leadership in Britain, with baby Boomers out and Generation Jones (the formerly “lost” generation between the Boomers and Xers) taking over in Parliament and party leadership (Cameron and Clegg also come from this generation). This has also been happening abroad and has promoted a lot of media interest, particularly in the U.S. Here’s an interesting piece from last week’s Independent about the significance this transition to Generation Jones:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/jonathan-pontell-cleggs-rise-is-the-sound-of-generation-jones-clearing-its-throat-1961191.html
    Also, I thought this was a pretty decent overview about GenJones in the UK:
    http://www.generationjones.org.uk/
    Finally for some light, post-election relief see this clip about Generation Jones on Jonathan Ross:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/GenerationJonesTV#p/a/u/1/5ZmO6Pl2E28

    1. I’ve heard a little on Generation Jones, so thanks for the list of links.

      Generational changes can be pretty far reaching, perhaps more so than shifts in administration.

  9. As a Lib Dem voter in the past two general elections and Labour before that, I am afraid I’m going back to Labour, full on and dabbling no more in the third option because they have utterly busted my balls with their bullshit coalition of the willing.

    I’m so mad I could crush a grape…

  10. I say it depends.

    How involved do you want to be in the internal workings of a party? Have you any intention of taking up the baton and campaigning to build a group in the seat? Do you want to be a candidate?

    The point about negative campaigning is important because the current generation who don’t remember the Tories in power do remember the result of Labour in power and their effect on civil liberties and on the economy; Brown is the new Thatcher outside of the left-wing commentariat.

    For so long, just as the tories sustained themselves by fighting against the winter of discontent and the strife of the 70s, while Labour sustained themselves with the miners strike and 3m unemployed and Black Wednesday. Now the outrage at the LibDems joining Cameron’s coalition is aimed at a sense of betrayal against the fear that the new lot will be just as divisive.

    But this has yet to be seen and those voices may fall silent as things settle down and we get to fully understand the choices we face – in a period not dominated by electioneering (as the past 3 years have been).

    Economic and social reforms have become imperative and we have yet to hear exactly how Labour counters the current governments practical critique of their tenure: Labour must present its’ new intellectual argument in the round in the light of the changed battleground.

    All of which means next weeks first pmqs of the new parliament will set the stage, and I would wait until then at the earliest.

    However there WILL be at least one major referendum (on voting reform, possibly others too) to campaign for, so I’m starting by getting involved in that.

    I’m interested to get away from the partisan stuff for a moment and want ask you to write a new thread on outlining the most important general areas for you.

    I mean, I agree with a lot of what you say but I want to cross paths with other locals to make a positive difference rather than just talk about it online.

    Berkshire is at the crossroads of so many issues (policy-wise, demographically and especially electorally – with Labour to the east, a sprinkling of greens, LibDems to the west and tories all around this is a major tipping point) and I think making a difference here has to have a wider impact.

  11. It’s not up to whether or not you forgive Labour. It’s about whether or not you think they are still tactically the best place to be, in order to activate whatever your ideal political collective is. In my case, the working class – which is why I’m not part of Labour.

  12. Labour, for me, still remains the only realistic vehicle for advancing left-wing aims in this country.

    Yes, there’s a lot wrong with the party.

    But then, you won’t change those things by standing on the outside shouting.

  13. “I would still say hold off. Looking back on myself I was not qualified to know what political party really suited my views till I was about 30 ….”

    It’s also possible that your views changed and evolved over a 10+ year period, meaning that different parties were right for you at different times. Joining a party needn’t be – and indeed shouldn’t be – a lifetime commitment.

  14. I am Labour, it’s not a question of alignment or membership (though, naturally, I am a member) but class.

    I am also a member of Labour’s sister, the Co-operative Party, which exists to promote all forms of democratic enterprise.

  15. Interesting. Why can’t you “obviously” support the Liberal Democrats? Does being in government mean they are no longer centre-left? Just because they aren’t implementing all of their policies, which is understandable given their junior status in the coalition, doesn’t mean the policies of theirs that they do implement aren’t somehow not worth supporting now they will actually be implemented.

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