Yesterday I dashed off a blog post about the General Election, partly because some things about it had been bugging me and partly because I had 15 minutes of writing to get done.
Almost immediately I felt ashamed of it and a couple of hours later thought about whether to delete it. It’s essentially a 15 minute whine about an election I noticed out of the corner of my eye and which didn’t bother to come and knock on my door and make me feel important.
Last night when I heard the exit polls I hoped against hell they were wrong. At 4.30 this morning when I got up to find out, I finally got engaged with the 2015 election through the visceral feeling that the lights were going out for the next five years.
I’ll leave the party politics for a few more paragraphs, but it’s hard not to fear that by the end of this parliament we could have a destroyed United Kingdom, what’s left sitting outside of the European Union, with a Prime Minister Boris Johnson presiding over the wholesale privatisation of our health care and the continued punishment beating of the most disadvantaged people in our society. So yes, I felt sick.
By the time I got to work at 7.30am I was thinking about how best to ignore what was happening.
By 9am I had joined the Labour Party.
I hated the Labour Party for lying to us and then taking us into an illegal war in Iraq. I hated them for selling their souls to Mammon and Murdoch. I hated them for being unable to stop fighting each other long enough to keep the Tories out.
But sitting back and feeling disgusted at the way other people are influencing public life is not good enough.
I’ll spare you my political life story, other than to say that I was born in the North of England and raised when Thatcher was sticking her jackboot into it. I believe that we all have a collective responsibility to care for and support one another. I believe that we should think the best of people, especially those less fortunate than ourselves. I believe that we should do unto others as we would have them do to us. I believe that those who do well in the society we build together have a moral obligation to share their good fortune with those who have not. I believe that markets should work for society, rather than society working for the markets. I believe that we should all, as individuals, be willing to dedicate ourselves to the greater good whether that is through paying our taxes or fighting climate change. I really, really believe that we are all in this together.
I am a socialist at heart, even if socialist programs have been failing disastrously all around me for the last 40 years. I don’t see much of anything I like in the parliamentary Labour Party, at least not in what they choose to say to us, the general public. I no longer trust them to have the right instincts, to have good hearts beating beneath their buttoned up suits.
And so I have joined them, because not to join them would be to leave the fate of the left to others and to allow the sinking ship of progressive politics to go under without even lifting a finger to stop it, or to help those people who will go under with it.