I’m falling out with Labour…
My political consciousness was forged from the late 1970s onwards.
The Prime Minister at the time was Margaret Thatcher. My first run in with Maggie occurred when I was working for Citibank just before I went to university in 1982. We were at war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands and, at one point, if the war went on, conscription was even mooted.
I didn’t really want to go to war.
None of us knew it at the time but that war consigned us to 15 more years of Tory rule, during which the UK embraced wholeheartedly neo-liberalism. The great sell off of State assets, from council houses to airlines, and the move to a share-owning democracy continued apace.
I wonder, who has all those shares now?
Today, we’re worrying about the steelworkers in Port Talbot but in the 80s and during my 2nd year at university it was the coalminers. There’s very few of them left now either. We now live in a post-industrial landscape that Thatcher predicted and prepared UK plc for. But did she predict it or did she create it? Other advanced economies (most notably Germany) still have what we don’t.
Since my first general election in 1982 I’ve always voted Labour. By the time of the 1997 Tony Blair/ New Labour landslide, I was 34 and for the first time in my adult life I’d voted for the winner. We cried that night and toasted each Tory loss and each Labour victory (with champagne of course).
But then Tony blew it. Big time. And so did Gordon.
And funnily enough that’s when I actually joined the Labour Party as I wanted to have a say on who should be their next leaders. I voted for David to be the party leader and Ed won. I voted for Oona to be London mayoral candidate and Ken won. These two decisions led to the return of the Tories, and the rise of BoJo.
Collectively, New Labour blew it in not considering an alternative to the neoliberal political economic agenda. While the Right on both sides of the Atlantic had legions of academics, economists, bankers, politicians, think-tanks and, of course, the self-interest of capital and those who have it, promoting their ideology, who did Blair have? Tony Giddens and his so-called, third-way? Hardly the stuff of economic transformation.
And now we have New-Old Labour. I’ve nothing against the new-old lot, except, of course, their anti-Semitism and misogyny (allegedly).
There’s no story I can get behind, yet. They seem to be quiet on all the major topics of the day, unless the right-wing controlled newspaper media are just ignoring them. And the BBC and ITV and Channel 4.
What exactly is New-Old Labour’s view on junior doctors or the privatization of the NHS? What is New-Old Labour’s view on immigration or the refugee crisis or the EU referendum? The environment? Climate change? Schools? Universities? Urban regeneration? Badgers? And how are they going to pay for it all?
Well, at the moment the plan is to have no plan, no agenda, no vision, so it doesn’t really matter that they have no economic policy. But what is there economic ideology? Can we afford to buy back some of the assets we used to own in the first place? In fact, why didn’t successive Governments keep a small (say less than 10%) stake in everything it sold off? How much would that bring in annually to UK plc?
But whenever the Greens say anything I find myself agreeing with them. But I haven’t examined their policies in any detail, much like I didn’t really examine the policies of Labour very carefully. I voted for them because I believed in their values but I don’t know what they are anymore. It’s easier to understand and agree (or not) with the values of the Greens. The way I read the tea-leaves is that we’re fucked if we don’t sort out climate change.
The problem is, I’m not very green. I like driving my car. My favourite was a Land Rover 4×4. I don’t ride a bicycle. I like eating meat. I don’t have any Birkenstock shoes. I’m quite partial to lentils though – but definitely not quinoa – it’s well dodgy.
Can you be ‘not very green’ and still support the Green Party?
Can you be, politically speaking, a hypocrite?
Well the answer to that last question is quite clearly a resounding YES.
And they have the best political “advert” of recent times too.