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Thursday, June 24, 2010 

Why I (might) be joining the Labour party (for at least a year).

This blog has been running for very nearly 5 years. In that time, it could probably be classified as being written by a stereotypically angry leftie who felt dispossessed from the movement he felt he ought to be comfortable within, if not proud to say he belonged to.

Well, nothing's changed, or at least has with me personally. I still feel dispossessed from the movement I should be able to belong to; I'm still a stereotypically angry leftie, still naive and still completely uncertain of my own surroundings. The change, it has to be admitted, is that the government I found myself raging against which I felt I ought to be able to at least sympathise with, is now no more.

Frankly, I should have taken a reality check a long time ago, but a change of government to the traditional opposition is something that always results in a reappraisal. I can't help but wonder, especially in the aftermath of this week's budget, whether Polly Toynbee and those like her have had a point all along; that while the economic situation for so long was, if not rosy, at least neutral, that we took it for granted and instead focused to the detriment of inequality on civil liberties and also foreign policy.

Before I start recanting almost everything I've written over those 5 long years, all I'm admitting is that she has something approaching a point. Civil liberties should never have become a middle class concern because they affect everyone equally; it's the Labour party and the authoritarian streak which it has always had which ensured that was the case.

While in government, there was never the slightest possibility that I could have justified to myself being a member of the Labour party. I was never going to be able to have the slightest impact on party policy. In that sense, nothing has changed. I'm still highly unlikely to have the slightest impact on party policy. I can however, this time, at the very least vote for the next leader of the party. I can at least attempt to make my voice heard.

I'm not completely decided yet. And it's true, I could make a different case, in fact probably a far better one, for joining the Greens and helping to build them as a real alternative. I've voted for them the same number of times as I have for Labour after all (both times in the European elections, and last month, which I don't in the slightest regret. I've voted for Labour twice locally and, to my still eternal regret, in 2005, in a futile attempt to save a doomed MP who had at least abstained on the war and voted against the worst of the anti-terrorism legislation). They'd probably be far more in tune with my actual views though, and as this blog perhaps has shown, where's the fun in being in a party where people actually agree with you? Complaining, moaning and conducting why-oh-why exercises like this one are far more fun and intellectually nourishing, if not actually helpful in the long. Oh, and I can join for the colossal sum of a whole pound, so it's not even that I'm vastly contributing to the coffers or a party which will take my money, ignore me, and carry on as before, as it undoubtedly will. You can of course, if you so wish, persuade me otherwise. And let's face it, the more votes that go to people with names other than Ed Balls, Andy Burnham and David Miliband the better.

Update: This has been crossposted over on Lib Con, with the usual fine debate following in the comments.

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After the latest election, where I voted Lib Dem for the second time, I decided to join the Labour Party.

Unable to handle the compromises of Government, you can only bring yourself to join the party after it's bankrupted the country, but is back in opposition, shouting "CUTS! Waaaaa..." from the sidelines

And you'll ignore 13 years of the most Savage assault on civil libeties.

Very mature.

You've just contradicted yourself. Apologists for the assaults on civil liberties would call them the compromises of government; now you're attacking me for not doing the former while ignoring the latter.

No. You're now thinking of supporting the party responsible for the most savage assault on civil liberties in British history.

You're doing so because they no longer have to endure the fiscal compromises of Govenernment and can simply shout "Waaa Cuts" from the sidelines.

You think shouting "Waaaa Cuts" makes up for being savagely illiberal just a few short weeks ago.

If civil liberty's your bag, you cannot support labour. Not until they apologised and atoned for their savagery in Government.

Self-interestedly justifying Further fiscal incontinence is NOT a sufficient justification.

Of course shouting "waa cuts" doesn't make up for them being "savagely illiberal". And before we get ahead of ourselves, abandoning ID cards or not, and if Labour had won and had the slightest sense they would have been one of the first things on the necessary bonfire, our new masters aren't cutting back 28 day detention without charge for "terrorist suspects" for six months yet, and most likely won't after that. There's one of those compromises of government I suppose.

If I am going to join the party one of the things I will most certainly be fighting for is a reappraisal and readjustment of their policies on civil liberties and liberty in general, not excluding law and order. They have far more to apologise on that score, and which they should say sorry for, than for "bankrupting" the country when instead they stopped it from going under, which is more than can be said for the impact this new budget may well have.

The big problem with the Labour meetings still basically new labour, how do you get your comments heard. The last time I was at a meeting I tried to make a comment and was told to sit down shut up, we have enough bloody old labour farts here now, that was it for me, the love affair between new labour and Thatcher is still around.

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