Wednesday 6 May 2015

I'm Voting Labour, Because Reasons

Of course I'm voting Labour. I am an active party member of five years standing. I've spent the bulk of my activism this year working in marginal seats (mainly Stafford). And there's the small matter of 261 posts on this here blog that have obsessed over the party's twists and turns since back before I hung up my paper selling boots. Whether I need committing I'll leave others to judge, but I'm committed, certainly. Yet drilling down, like everyone else voting Labour tomorrow, I have my reasons.

Labour's manifesto doesn't tick all my boxes. Far from it. I don't like the capitulation to received wisdom - if it can be called that - about immigration, though it is reasonable to argue that communities with the highest inflows of migrant workers should receive more resources. I don't like the surrender the scrounger rhetoric, of conceding to the Tory view that generous benefits (what? where?) are to blame for joblessness, not lack of jobs. But I do agree with Labour's plan to abolish youth unemployment with a job offer at the end of a period of dole - something far superior to the Tory plan who will banish the problem by not allowing the under 25s to claim JSA. And Trident ... well, we won't go there.

There are some policies that are steps in the right direction. The minimum wage. The repeal of the Health and Social Care Act. Reversal on work tribunal fees. Free childcare. Workers on corporate remuneration committees. More devolution. No EU referendum. A partial break with austerity. The beginnings of a better plan for a different capitalism.

Yes, I'm a tough cookie to please. Then again, this election isn't about me. It's about others.

Others like the woman I spoke to the other week in Stafford. She gave birth to her daughter in a motorway layby, because the Tories had stripped out maternity services and sent them up the road to Stoke. Others like the grieving family of a woman who died from a heart condition, shortly after failing her work capability assessment. Others like the autistic man terrified of losing his council house because of the bedroom tax. The woman who'd had her mental health support worker withdrawn, despite suffering a lifetime of horrifying sexual abuse. The chap victimised by his "responsible" employers for questioning his shift patterns. The single mum trapped in a house so damp her asthmatic daughter's bedroom ceiling caved in.

If the Tories get in again, the lot of millions of people in these situations will not improve. As the Tory assault on what remains of social security provision widens, more people are set to get dragged into the bedroom tax. More profit will be extracted from public medical services. The most vulnerable will be hammered even more to pay for tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy. I don't know about you, but that is a society unfit for human habitation. A Labour or Labour-led government offers many of the people at the bottom immediate relief.

Yet people who put up with this crap are not hopeless victims. Voting Labour is not an act of charity on behalf of the powerless, of the political equivalent of sticking 50p in a Children in Need tin. It's a necessary act in helping our movement get its act together. Be no doubt, if Labour doesn't win tomorrow, if by some jiggery-pokery combination the main party of the trade unions is locked out of power that is a defeat for the labour movement. But with Labour in power, there is more room, strategically and tactically. Socialism, if it means anything, is about boosting the the well being and political confidence of our people: those who have to work for a living, those who have to get by on social security, those retired after a life time of labouring, and those too vulnerable to fend for themselves. That is what mine - and your - class is.

Tomorrow's poll is a very modest step on the road to building a better society. If we win, the hard job of continually rebuilding Labour into a proper mass party, of drawing millions back into the labour movement and giving people the confidence to stand up and fight stands before us. it's hard work, but it's much easier if the poisonous Tories are turfed out of office.

I'm voting Labour. And if you are a campaigner, a labour movement person, a socialist; you should too.


BCFG said...

I think Labour demoralise because they pander to the backward sections of the class. Instead of attempting to create history they simply ride on the train. They do not stand up tall and fight for what it believes.

Contrast that with the Tories, who with barley 30% of the national vote have driven through the most radical and extreme set of policies in generations. when they look at a poll saying most people would like a fairer tax system and public control of banks, they proudly say, public opinion can go fuck itself.

That is the mentality for victory and for raising morale.

treborc said...

Good luck.

Laban Tall said...

"Instead of attempting to create history they simply ride on the train."

I wouldn't say that. The changes of the Blair years were gigantic, and their effects have yet to play out (two examples from many, the setting up of the Scottish Parliament and the suspension of new nuclear build in 2008)