Farewell to Arms

 

When I was a child there were three political parties in this country, Labour, Liberal and Conservative. The Conservatives were right wing, the Labourites were left wing, and the Liberals were somewhere in the middle. It was easy to grasp. It was like politics for primary school children. Everyone understood it. Even me.

Obviously within all that, MPs and supporters moved along the spectrum from hard left to far right, and there were all sorts of splinter groups that catered to the more extreme ends of the spectrum. At some point we also got the SDP which was, to my fairly uninformed and at the time uninterested mind, rather vague and seemed to be formed mostly of men with bad hair cuts and terrible taste in shirts. I still wonder why anyone would want to wear a shirt where their collar didn’t match their cuffs. It doesn’t work in porn. It doesn’t work in politics. It’s probably the single biggest reason why the SDP sank without trace after failing to make anyone excited about anything, ever.

It was, the SDP notwithstanding, really easy to figure out who to vote for, because depending on your political beliefs, there was a party available that broadly represented you, and which was fundamentally different from the parties that opposed it. It created a dynamic political landscape in which every person who was interested in politics could more or less find someone to speak for them.

All that changed with the rise of New Labour under Tony Blair.

Tony began well by taking the Labour party out of the doldrums, it is fair to say. He really looked like he wanted to reboot it for the twenty first century, and boy were a lot of people happy when he got elected. I mean, a lot. I remember the day the election result was announced. We were living in London at the time, and people were genuinely jubilant. People were partying in the street, laughing and chatting to each other. It was an optimistic few hours to be alive. People believed Tony could shape a Labour party for modern times, one that held true to the grass roots of the Labour movement and yet gave it some relevance for how we live now.

What a fucking disaster that turned out to be.

What we got, in my opinion, was not a Labour party for the new age. We got the Conservative party, wearing a red dress. Under Tony, Labour moved so far to the right it was practically indistinguishable from its supposed opposition. Then, with the Conservative/Liberal alliance of the last election, we got a Liberal party that was so ineffectual it was like your mum spitting on your face to clean it in a futile attempt to get all the chocolate off, rather than sending you to have a wash.

What we have now, reminds me of Michael Moore talking about the difference between the Democrat and Republican parties in the States. He likened it to only being able to go to a restaurant where they had either breadsticks or croutons on the menu. It’s all basically the same. Just the shape is different.

And while I’m on the subject of Tony it didn’t take the Chilcot report to tell me everything I needed to know about Tony Blair. And before anyone even thinks of calling me a Saddam apologist, which is what I’ve heard bandied about on Twitter over the last few days for anyone who dares to criticise St Tony of the massive, fucking lie. Don’t even go there.

Tony was no more interested in righting the injustices of Saddam’s regime than I am in learning to Morris dance. He was interested in fostering our ‘special’ relationship with the States, so that we could seem big and important by hanging on the coat tails of our American cousins. And while I’m digressing even further, do let me shatter any illusions anyone has about our ‘special’ relationship with the States, then, now or in the future. Our special relationship is us in the gimp mask and them with the nipple clamps, which is why we ended up housing their missiles at Greenham Common, fighting their oil claims in Iraq and will continue to lickspittle our way up the butt crack of whatever disastrous fucking military idea they have next. That’s special.

Tony’s special relationship cost half a million lives and sent our troops to Iraq so woefully equipped their families had to buy them kit from Amazon to supplement the meagre supplies the armed forces could spare them. The armed forces who have continually had their budget for the most basic things cut year on year, until they are basically being housed in a massive scout hut so that Tony and Call Me Dave can buy gigantic, penis sized weapons that nobody is actually qualified to use because we can’t afford to train or equip our troops properly.

And it is entirely possible to abhor war and abhor Saddam Hussein and still find a way to resolve a conflict that was never ours to fight in the first place, without killing half a million people and contributing year on year to the refugee crisis that we won’t help to solve. And none of this deflects attention from Tony’s culpability. So, like I said. Don’t go there.

This, for me, was the real beginning of feeling disenfranchised. My political leanings are naturally left, and yet the Blairing of the Labour party left me nowhere to take them except to an extreme I didn’t want to go to, and I didn’t want Tim Farron spitting on my face and advancing on me with a damp hankie.

I am, by nature, a political pragmatist. I believe that MPs should represent their constituents and the communities they serve. I believe that policy should be shaped by what is best for the country now, rather than how we voted in the Industrial Revolution or what my mate or big business want me to do so I can have a new car, or three flats or a blow job. I believe that cross party affiliations to get things done is the way forward because I really do believe that what unites us makes us stronger, and more effective. I believe in grass roots change affecting policy from the bottom up. I don’t believe we should be working our politics top down, filtered from an elite that think £13 plus grand a term is a reasonable amount to pay for school fees and that sticking your dick in a dead pig’s head is a smart move if you’re an ambitious lad about town.

I believe you cannot blame society for being disenfranchised if you are only offering them political porridge and lip service to what being enfranchised means and then getting on with political in fighting, shinning up the greasy pole and taking power because it’s there and you want it rather than because you will do good with it. And  by good I do not mean good for you and your coterie of MPs, good for the people, and by extension, the country.

When Corbyn got elected as the runaway leader of the Labour party on the biggest majority in Labour’s history, and continued to attract new members to the party, I thought I could see a return to the politics of old, where the parties actually start to define themselves as separate from each other. With him, and the birth of the WEP I got interested again, because I could hear  voices in politics that were actually trying to say something different, something complicated and something that might actually be giving people a real choice. Even UKIP, much as I am loathe to say it, was at least an opposition that was really opposing the morass of non choice in parliament.

I have sympathy with Corbyn. I admire his stance on many things, whilst distrusting him, as I distrust all politicians, and disagreeing with him on some key points, but I really did feel he might give Labour back some of its heart. Labour is supposed to be a left leaning, socialist movement. Corbyn is a left leaning socialist. It could have worked.

I thought, stupidly, that Labour MPs would get behind the leader that had been elected by the party membership, because that is what they are supposed to do. It’s what they sign up for. I thought we would see Labour growing into an opposition that would give the Tories a run for their money for the first time in years.

What I have seen has made me sickened and ashamed, as the MPs have demonstrated time and time again that every time they have had a chance to unite, they have chosen to split the party wider and wider. After the death of Jo Cox, I was hopeful this would change. The results of the referendum, the chaos in the Conservative party, gave a window for that change to happen. Did it?

Did it fuck.

Now we are in a position where the party would rather disenfranchise its own members, than keep its promises to those members. After promising them the chance to vote in leadership elections on a £3 membership with no time limit on membership and garnering hundreds of thousands of members, including me, I wake up this morning to find that they have back tracked. They have lied. They are doing everything in their power to discredit their own party rather than allow a fair and democratic vote for who will be leader of the party.

This is where we are at. We are at a place where naked greed, political ambition and personal interest is baldly and unashamedly more important to people who are supposed to be public servants than the welfare of their members and constituents. And do not presume to tell me that they know best, because there has never been a time in modern history when it is more clear that none of them know or care what is best for any of us.

I make no bones about it. I am exactly the sort of person the Labour party wants and needs. I am politically active, motivated, interested and I genuinely care about the people I live and work with to the point where I get off my backside and do things. My views are moderate left. I am articulate, I am keen. I am able.

Honestly, if I had been able to vote, would I have voted for Corbyn? I don’t know. You know why? Because I would look at the ballot, look at the candidates and vote on merit and what I think the party needed rather than having some other agenda. I am the voter you want. I am the person you want on your side.

I am also ripping up my membership and throwing it in the bin, as of today. If you take my voice away when it suits you, you don’t get my voice when you need it.

 

 

 

47 responses to “Farewell to Arms

  1. please don’t rip up your membership card yet. I feel the same but have some sneaky feeling that its all some grand plan to un encourage and dis enfranchise the very people who can enable change x

  2. Jane Mickelborough

    I’m in the same boat and not at all happy

  3. Yup. It’s an absolute shocker. I can vote because I joined just after Jeremy won the leadership, mainly because I had such a performance to do the £3 joining and had to get my local councillors involved to get head office to repeal their refusal of my application and even then I couldn’t vote because there wasn’t enough time to process it or something. I too am seriously thinking about cutting up my membership card and sending it back. I cannot believe that the people who resigned when we really needed some political guidance post Brexit think we’ll overlook that and that they can ‘unite the party’. Why not just be honest and say ‘you can vote, but if we don’t like the result it doesn’t count’?
    It is a complete and utter mess and a shambles and frankly I wish they’d grow up, get real, get a grip, whatever but stop infighting and start making some plans for what we do now.

  4. Well said Katy.

    I like Jeremy Corbyn, he is consistent in his views, not delusional and I think is honest (unlike most Tory and labour politicians). I also think this is what makes him a great leader. The Establishment and main stream media will do anything to make us believe otherwise.

    Keep blogging

  5. Mine didn’t even start lol To be honest, from someone who always lived during the time where the most messed-up politicians in Europe were sitting in our Parliament (Italy and Greece have Parliaments where people beating up each other directly is ‘normal’…), I always looked up at British politics as an example of ‘decency’ in politics. From my foreign point of view, in a certain way they still are, although they will be unelectable in Italy because the more you fool the populace in Italy, the more votes you win (Johnson would be a total success in Rome, he should consider to move there lol). I’ve no sympathy for Corbyn, because he reminds me too much of good ole outdated Italian communists (ex PCI), a party than went from nearly 40% in the elections to basically destroy. And these days, I cannot even blame the Labour MPs if they feel they have no confidence in him, because he clearly has no ‘traction’ on the electorate. Yes, Labour is now messed up and disunited, true. Yet, isn’t that a mirror of the general situation? We’re all disunited, it’s like we’ve all fragmented in several little states where our classes are defined by nationality, race or even party affiliations.
    I don’t see a rose-coloured version of the future here. Unfortunately.

    • No. There is no rose coloured future, but I think Corbyn stood a chance given that Labour membership has doubled under him, and the referendum was not just about party politics per se.

      • I don’t think he stood a chance at all. I have not heard a single Labour voter praising him in the North, which was the core of the Labour movement since the 20th century. He’s been such a tragedy for Labour that in only three years spent in Cumbria many Labour voters have voted for Tory candidates and Tory policies (referendum included). So no, Corbyn should have resigned because he has lost the core support of Labour. The fact Labour has attracted new members, well it doesn’t really matter, because we don’t know if the new members were going to vote for him or oust him, because they were denied the vote unless they pay 25£. Labour part has, sadly, turned into a joke. Poor Keir Hardie is turning into his grave :-/

  6. Problem with your last paragraph is what the main issue with Brexit is: if you don’t like something, you are not going to effect change by staying out of it. You need to be a part of it….

    • Well, to be fair. You can still, and I have done, affect grass roots change where it matters, without being a party member. Furthermore, I am also a member of the WEP, as I am allowed to be both, so I can still effect change, but just in a party that will actually listen to me.

  7. Agreed.

    As I type, I have Dave answering his final questions. The jollity in the House has my stomach tied in knots. The gruesome yes-man laughter track, it seems, has been lifted from The Big Bang Theory. Dave just mentioned something about politicians being involved in public service. I might vomit.

  8. you probably will get to vote so don’t give up yet – that ruling is probably illegal and sticking with it is important to stop their dishonesty and appalling machinations = I feel pretty much the same as you so don’t give up just yet please – they do need people like both of us

  9. Every time I think I’m as disgusted as it’s possible to be, they hit a new low! I joined the Labour Party a couple of days after the referendum, not because I’m massively pro-Corbyn (my feelings are similar to yours), but because I was so furious when all those Labour MPs started to resign, it was the only thing i could think of to do. As Julia said above, they started their coup at precisely the time we needed them to stand together. Obviously, their Westminster power games are more important to them. You can just call me ‘Mrs Angry from Rotherham’ from now on. I’ve been frothing at the mouth for almost 3 weeks. Frankly, it’s exhausting!

  10. Unfortunately, I’ve nothing constructive to add to what your blogs convey, Katy. At a time when we’ve been comprehensively shafted by feckless, inadequate ‘leaders’ whose influence has been extended far beyond their capabilities, the party I joined because my dad explained they were for working people (and my mum said he should let me make up my own mind), has decided to commit suicide. Please just keep saying what you’re saying (and doing what you’re doing).

  11. Well said! Me too! Membership of the LP? Not!

  12. Is Corbyn honest? Yes, probably. Is he consistent? Yes, probably. Is he a a good leader? No, not at all. He’s no public speaker,often bested in debate and argument, forgetting the points he really needed to make, and he’s generally poor at team management. So he has a real place in the Labour party and perhaps in helping shape policy, but as a leader – no.I was one of those thousands who recently joined the party – but definitely not to vote for him. Anything but. Like you, Katyboo, I’m joining WE.

  13. i’d vote for you Katy…would you ever get that far involved?

  14. Ok….is it safe to stick my head above the parapet yet :0/

    My background is working class. Voted labour every time. Voted them in when Tory Blair was leader. At that time I lived in Liverpool. A city that had an appalling education system. It was failing the kids big time. Over a ten year period the Labour government pumped £500,000,000 into that city; purely to raise the standard for Liverpool kids. Rat infested wooden shacks with roofless outside toilets were torn down and replaced with state of the art primary schools. Ancient Secondary schools, totally unfit for purpose, were demolished and replaced. The whole education system was revamped. Kids normally written off as basket cases began to achieve. Offsted inspectors began to write the word Excellent at the bottom of their forms. Liverpool began to reclaim some of the pride that had been crushed out of it by successive Tory governments.

    Admittedly, Tory Blair lost it and went off on one, hand in hand with Bush. Power has a way to seduce the best of people. However, the Labour Party in collaboration with the EU, did a lot for that city, and others like it, in the time they had back then. :0)

    • Ha ha! Of course it is. I’m not saying that Blair’s government didn’t do any good, and frankly I’d take a Labour government over a Conservative government any day of the week. I agree with you that power corrupts and that’s part of the problem isn’t it? I think that’s what we’re seeing over the last few weeks, all the sheen is being stripped off and the ugly stuff is rising to the surface. I have no idea what the future of the Labour party will be, but I think it should be able to rise above its problems and make itself better than the sum of its parts. I don’t know whether it will.

  15. Denise Postings

    Hi Katy

    I was so impressed with your post and the way you mirrored so many of my feelings I’ve shared it on FB.
    Apologies for assuming you wouldn’t mind too much my presumption.

    I hVe commented on previous posts but don’t know if they arrive as not seen them listed.
    You are more politically aware than I for which you have my untold admiration. I approach change from more of a spiritual angle and work it, but feel we all need to take more responsibility for what is done in our name, thus my admiration.

    Best love
    Denny
    West Midlands
    Probably older than you woman, early 60s, still working, no kids and 5 lovely casts. Work in educational support role, HE students. Xx

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  16. I know exactly how you feel – it’s absolutely outrageous that they can treat ordinary party members like this. I can’t help thinking it’s totally illegal as it’s an obvious breach of contract and I can’t think they’ll get away with it, but what I’ve done today is join the Unite Union as a community member. This is for those who are unemployed or don’t work or are a student and it actually sounds right up your alley and there’s a Unite Community group in Leicester (you probably know of them) – http://www.unitetheunion.org/growing-our-union/communitymembership/ This means I’ll get voting rights in the leadership election because Len McCluskey is allowing it. It’s such a monumental fuck-up, it really is…..

    • I might do it. I do know some of the Unite members in Leicester and they’re good sorts. It’s just outrageous that people are having to go to these lengths really. x

  17. From all the way over here on the West coast of Canada, I can only say bravo to you Katy. As I watch more and more sadly at what is going on in the country of my birth (and as my London resident daughter becomes more and more despairing), I feel utterly desperate at the chaos that is the British political scene…and American one come to that! You reflect so much of what I feel and in an intelligent and articulate way…it gives me comfort to read your blog and the thoughtful and respectful conversations it triggers. Thank you!

  18. Shelagh in Vermont

    Ruth Jones just said it for me. I am watching the UK shenanigans in disbelief from here in Vermont. Still British after 57 living in the US, and despairing for both countries. Although our own Bernie HAS succeeded in pulling Hillary to the left. Your blog is the sanest commentary I have read, please continue to keep us ex-pats informed.

  19. I agree with the contents of the article. I do not agree with the conclusion. Isn’t it more important now than ever to support Corbyn? He’s fighting for Labour. So should you who claim you want the Corbynite Labour – but not the Blairite. Tearing up your memberships is achieving exactly what you claim you want to prevent. An empowerment of the Tories. If you want things to change. You need to support the man who has been fighting for that change – SUCCESSFULLY.

    • I did not claim I wanted a Corbynite Labour. I said I had sympathy with him, and I didn’t know in an election for leadership who I would vote for, and as it happens, I don’t get to vote for anyone. I believe in the best person for the job and parties that represent something concrete. That is not the same as what you said at all. I do want things to change and change doesn’t always happen the way you think it does.

  20. Your point about the MPs supporting JC is exactly what has had me frothing at the mouth on a semi-regular basis since he got the job. Including rowing with otherwise sympathetic Lab supporting friends who didn’t like him & didn’t seem to see the problem with the PLP.

    Sure, he has his weaknesses and is inexperienced as leader, but that could be said of anyone who had got the position. The point is, his MPs should have been there in support, stepping in to help with the bits he wasn’t so good at, advising and generally helping. That they instead spent all their time trying to figure out how to get rid of him has disgusted me beyond belief. I am not a member of any party – just not a joiner – but if I were a Labour member, even one who had not supported Corbyn, I would be raging at the contempt shown. If they (the PLP) can do this once and get away with it, they will do it every time the membership don’t toe the line. There really will be no point to OMOV.

    The trope is that JC is/was un-electable. Really? He won the leadership job, which is the only test so far and the pundits have hardly been spot on in most of their other predictions lately. He was never going to get a fair shake from our media, not with who owns it, but if the PLP had been there in every other arena, such as social media, or adverts or posters, bigging him up, pointing out when lies were told, supporting him, who knows what could have happened.

    Yes, he may well be un-electable NOW, but precisely whose fault is that?

    I don’t know how I will vote next time we get the chance (apart from definitely NOT Tory or Ukip!), but it is unlikely to be Labour. Not after this.

  21. Corbyn does represent something concrete – and in fact your paragraph here sounds hopeful at a return to old Labour with Corbyn, etc., etc., etc.,

    “When Corbyn got elected as the runaway leader of the Labour party on the biggest majority in Labour’s history, and continued to attract new members to the party, I thought I could see a return to the politics of old, where the parties actually start to define themselves as separate from each other. With him, and the birth of the WEP I got interested again, because I could hear voices in politics that were actually trying to say something different, something complicated and something that might actually be giving people a real choice.”

    • Hopeful because I would like to see, as I stated earlier, clearly defined political parties, as in the old days. And yes, he has interesting things to say, as do the WEP. It is important to me that all people have something concrete to vote for instead of the porridge we have today. That is what gives me hope. Not necessarily Corbyn as a leader. Don’t get me wrong, I do like Corbyn, I like some of his policies. I am in broad agreement with his aims, and yet I am not entirely sure he will be the best person to lead the party. I think he has a lot of good qualities. Leadership may not be one of them. It’s not a criticism of Corbyn. It’s just what I feel I need from a party.

  22. I quite like Corbyn. Right now though I would rather see an effective opposition and would like a leader the party can get behind. I would quite like the idea of someone who represents the remain camp (as then choosing someone in politics I feel represents me). As a member I believe I will get to vote when the time comes. I just hope it works out. The in fighting isn’t helping anyone. I am rather disillusioned and joined the Labour Party back when the Tories were busy pouring cuts on the poor. I was so disgusted by it I felt like I should do something to actively oppose it. Now like you I wonder if I am making a difference. The Lib Dems might represent me better but they seem so small and quiet that they are practically invisible.

    • It’s tricky. The Lib Dems are looking to ally with other minority parties, which might give them more clout, but they’re even doing that quite quietly.

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