Sunday, 1 April 2007

Goodbye to the Left

I first became interested in politics 20 years ago, when our school held a mock election to run in parallel with the 1987 general election. Being only 10 years of age I asked my Mum and Nana who I should vote for. They advised I should support the Conservatives. They told me Margaret Thatcher had helped make Britain a strong country again after it had gone to the dogs under Labour. Bullying unions would no longer make life hell for people who just wanted to get on with their lives. The working class would reap the benefit from being able to invest their hard earned savings in the privatised schemes the Tories were planning. Others were being offered the opportunity to own their own homes and living standards were being raised right across the board. Labour would, I was told, scrap our nuclear weapons meaning there was nothing stopping the Russians invading. But what stayed with me most was the belief that hard work would be rewarded – all Labour wanted to do was tax us to the high heavens.

I duly marked my cross against the Tories and quite happily urged my class mates to do likewise. I’ve long cherished the memories of sitting in the dinner hall, transformers sandwich box on knee, holding my own against 9 and 10 year old Kinnockites. And in the end the blue team won out. I think the Tories romped home with 220 votes, Labour with a hundred fewer and the Alliance with a pathetic 30-something.

This is where I date my political life from. I was proud to call myself a Conservative until the aftermath of the 1992 general election. Then I became increasingly disenchanted with the society that the Tories had created, one where the much-vaunted conservative values of community and mutual respect had been brushed aside by dog eat dog greed and an I’m alright Jack philosophy. The victims of the Tory years, the unemployed and those on low incomes, had in the twisted parlance of the times become the cause of the ills that bedevilled Britain. I found myself moving to the left. My experiences of the workplace and introduction to the ideas of Marx at FE college changed my thinking completely. Between 1992-5 I went from an enthusiastic true blue Tory boy to the deepest red, seething with anger at the appalling destruction capitalism visited on people’s lives.

I’ve now been on the left for 12 years, the overwhelming majority of that time in or associated with various left groups. And what a state our movement has become in that time. Four promising left unity initiatives (Socialist Labour Party, Socialist Alliance, Respect, Scottish Socialist Party) have come and gone, their potential pissed up the wall through petty sectarianism, Jupiter-sized egos, a hopelessly undemocratic culture, and a failure to connect with the working class it claims to be the vanguard of. The sad fact is even the useless hatemongers of the BNP have a better handle on what working class people are thinking than the left's self-selected leaders and tribunes.

I’ve just had enough of all this petty crap. I’ve been thinking a lot about my politics. The revolutionary left offers nothing. Similarly the soft left of the Labour party are completely useless – if they had a spine they might be dangerous. Instead I’ve come to the conclusion that the Tories under David Cameron are the only ones with the modern, forward-looking politics Britain needs. After years in the wilderness here’s a party oozing with confidence and free from the sleaze and cronyism that has bedevilled it in the past. This is a party going places. Tory associations have filled up with the young dynamic professionals and entrepreneurs that can get this country back on its feet after a decade of Blairite mismanagement. And the Tories are far from being a party of the middle and upper classes. The work Cameron’s team are putting into poverty reduction will put an end to the gross inequalities that continue to blight the nation. And on the Green agenda the Conservatives are leading the way. It’s all very well the left bleating about capitalism being the fault of global warming, but in fact the problem’s more mundane than that – people’s unsustainable life styles are the root cause. Cameron’s thinking on carbon off-setting, sustainable development and recycling offer the best way out of the environmental crisis. There’s certainly more chance of them making a difference instead of the left’s pie in the sky “solutions”.

I have resigned all my left and labour movement affiliations. I’m turning the responsibility of the UKLN over to the other mods. Obviously they disagree with the conclusions I’ve drawn but can see why I’ve drawn them, and respect my position for all that. I will however be continuing with my blog.

I would wish all the friends I’ve made on the British left all the success, but unfortunately I can’t now we’re on what you would call the opposite sides of the barricades. You’re all barking up the wrong tree. David Cameron’s Conservatives is now the natural home for genuine radicalism, and I call on all of you to join me in the new Tory party.

9 comments:

Grogoreo said...

Good one Phil, I've just checked todays date.

Freens In Springburn said...

A very nice hunt-the-gowk indeed!

big_d said...

you had me going for a while there before I realised what the date was.

Korakious said...

I swallowed it. Completely. Until I checked the date.

Anna said...

Ha, ha! Good one, Phil.

a very public sociologist said...

I was really stumped this year. Good job I've got another 365 days to think about the next!

Jim Jay said...

I actually came to your blog to see what april fool you'd played this year so i was a hard audience to please - good job - might have been slightly more believable if you'd said lib-dems perhaps? Great fun

a private psychologist said...

Many a true word.....??

Geoff Collier said...

Does Jim Jay know something I don't? I just read on Urban 75 that the Sutton Brothers in Stoke did leave the Socialist Party and join the Liberal Democrats. However they are both standing as independents now and the Socialist Party have no candidates in Stoke. I'm sure they initially included a ward in their published list.

So Phil, can you explain what happened? It's not a sectarian dig - having been born and bred nearby and with relatives in the area I'm genuinely concerned,