Voting Labour in 2010

April 30, 2010

That’s it done. I voted Labour, again, tribally; just as I have in every election in which I’ve been entitled to vote. It’s not that there’s nowhere else for my vote to go, simply that I wouldn’t want to put a cross against any other party.

I don’t believe the white working class has been ignored these last 13 years, just like I don’t believe the Tories have changed.

I have not and never will do anti-politics, whether it’s the Lib-Dems’ overtures that they’re different from the other two, Nick Griffin’s more justifiable claim that his lot are different from all the others, or, indeed, Martin Bells priggish and sanctimonious notion that if only people of goodwill and integrity (for which read – ‘none of the others’) could come together, then things would be just fine.

This election has been both a source of depression and a wellspring of hope and my vote reflects both the clarity and confusion that abounds.

The downside has been the X-Factor coverage of leaders and the invisibility of women other than their wives, the primacy of process over policy and the compression of what policy there is, to fit a narrow band of unquestioned assumptions.

Who could imagine from our politics that the majority of people in the UK are female; that half the world’s population has to get by on less than $2 a day; that the price we’re due to pay for shoring up the system we have is the destruction of our welfare state, or that the homeland of the world’s mightiest empire ever, is based on racial incarceration. And please don’t get me on to the depletion of natural resources, oil dependency and global warming.

And the irony in this is that, this time, the word chosen to be rendered as meaningless as modern is ‘change’.

The upside is the real prospect of proportional representation, a genuine shake-up of the way politics is done in the UK and the scope that the failure of the Cameron Conservatives will offer for the march of Rupert Murdoch to be stopped.

British people are looking for greater change than has been held out by any of our politicians; not just PR, a right to recall MPs, transparency over their expenses or a ban on their outside employment. They want people in Parliament they can connect with and trust – a politics of selflessness over self-interest where they can look up to representatives who don’t share their views rather than harbour contempt for many of those who do.

People recognise that the institutions and practices that comprise our government are redundant. They belong to earlier times and past timidity about changing them is one reason for our current mess.

Also contributing has been the many-tentacled Murdoch media empire. He called the 2008 US presidential election wrong, let’s make him wrong again in 2010.

Let’s scotch once and for all the outlandish claims that it’s ‘The Sun wot won it’, end the monopoly ownership of the UK’s press and TV, protect the proper purpose of our public broadcasting for good and prevent the malign Fox News’ mixture of fiction and fear from taking root here. Let’s restore to politicians of all stripes the confidence that is eroded by the closing off of true debate by our present mass media.

So why not vote tactically to ensure a Conservative defeat?

Nothing would delight the Murdochs more, those clinging to first-past-the-post, those resisting serious change who would prefer to carry on as now, than the demise of the Labour Party; it’s reduction to a rump in both parliamentary seats and the popular vote.

For all its frequent paucity of ambition, the limiting economism of its union founders, its trimming and betrayals, The Labour Party, born of mutual self-improvement as much as imperial privilege, remains.

It is the closest we’ve ever got in the UK to a mass party capable of transforming a vision of a truly different and better world into reality.

It’s in my blood because my own life opportunities, from the home of my childhood to being taught to read and think have been the reality of its past political vision.

Now is not the time to chuck it in the skip, but to restore its vitality.

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