I’m off. Leaving Labour. After 44 years. After standing for Labour in two general elections in Brighton.
After being Labour group leader on a local authority. After a lifetime of activism, fighting for redistribution, more equality and socialism. I didn’t join Labour for Thatcherism.
Vote Blair, get Brown, they say. But that’s the problem. I wanted a swing to the left, the Warwick agreement, an end to selection, an end to city academies, renationalisation of the railways, an end to and a reversal of privatisation in the NHS and the public services, an end to the two class society.
I didn’t vote for Blair cosying up to conservatives internationally — Bush, Aznar, Berlusconi — all enemies of working people.
Most of all I didn’t vote for the criminal invasion of and slaughter in Iraq.
Am I an “urban intellectual” who the Labour Party doesn’t want anymore? It looks like it! But I’m from a solid working class family, the first in my family to go to university.
And we’ve seen the rich get richer and the poor poorer. There have been a few good social democratic policies, such as SureStart, the minimum wage and maintenance grants for further education.
But these have been suffocated by a welter of neo-liberal privatising measures that “select” the poor out of quality schooling, health, pensions, travel, life expectancy.
For me — and, I think, for millions — this represents a betrayal of Labour by Blair, and now by Brown.
The yearning for a left turn in British politics is much wider than what New Labour calls the 4 percent of “urban intellectuals”.
So many people are fed up with Blair and Brown talking tough against the workers and public services, instead of talking and acting tough against the bosses, the highest paid, and the mega-rich.
I can’t bring myself to vote against left wing Labour MPs such as those in the Socialist Campaign Group. But they are so few in number.
So, where to find a home for a socialist? I guess it’s the Respect coalition. I hope they do as well as the German Left Party.
And I hope Respect helps refound a left wing tradition that stands for redistribution, equality, and civil liberties — and for socialism.
Join Respect at www.respectcoalition.org