Oh! To what tiny and tawdry ambition is the Labour Party now reduced? Where once was a Lion that roared in defence of the disempowered and disenfranchised there lies a lap-kitten mewing sops to the social conscience of middle-class Middle England, whilst the power-at-any-price-to-do-any-
I once was an activist: a branch secretary, election agent, canvasser and campaigner taking the devils own job of winkling out the traditional Labour support and combatting the constituents’ claim “my vote won’t matter, it’s always Labour here but the Tories still rule”. The promises to clean up politics after ‘cash for questions’, to halt privatisation and restore some social justice eventually helped to turn the seat from Tory.
Ten years later, who had an argument to the new excuse “what’s the point? They are all the same”. Part privatisation of NHS, schools and haemorrhaging power to commerce were the actions of a Labour government. Foreign wars and corruption continued, the only nationalisations were failed banks, my community largely surrendered. Communities and constituencies in ‘deprived’ areas north of the Midlands looked for hope elsewhere.
In my constituency (Labour) more than 40% didn’t vote (past experience suggests that many were originally Labour), thousands voted UKIP (we are a white, poor, place) and the MP gathered about 30% of an electorate that should have returned an absolute majority: it was enough to win, just. Further north in Scotland the loss of faith was complete. Make no mistake, much of SNP and UKIP support was a protest against Labour and Westminster from former Labour voters.
What would make me vote Labour? More importantly the millions of ‘lost’ Labour votes that stayed at home or worse, were gathered by SNP or UKIP? Traditionalist labour values, down-to-earth (deeply sadly: Farage-mirage stylee) and honest leaders providing a real hope that the ‘lost’ lives might be changed by Government. Continuing the rush to the right will complete the schism and tattoo the irrelevance of Labour on the hearts of the ‘Lost’ for another generation.
Electoral changes mean that Labour will not be elected nationally without the ‘Lost’. Middle-class Middle-England will not a Labour Government make; and yes I would say wouldn’t I? I am one of those that Old Andrew identified when he tweeted that Labour lost when people like me vote for them, and yes for the first time since 1997 I did. Oops! But, in my heart I don’t believe that divorce from the unions and marriage to Middle England has a future. Wave the Red Flag and millions like us will follow!
Cue the song….oh no they don’t do that any more do they?