So it seems like I dust this place off mainly when I have something political to talk about, these days. This is the first of a couple of posts I want to make talking about the UK 2017 general election. If that's not your bag, well, I saved you some time. Go check out my Patreon :)
Let's start with some context. Here's what I posted on Facebook, shortly after the snap election was called:
I'm a member of the Labour party. I will be campaigning for them in the forthcoming general election. That campaign will largely be local and involve leaflets and letterboxes, but it will also, probably, be a bit online. If that bothers you, maybe unfollow me until after. I won't be offended. My wall won't turn red overnight, but there will, unavoidably, be more politics for a while.
I'll be honest - I've never felt less like doing this in my life. Not out of any disillusionment with the party itself, or it's leadership (no, honestly) but because of the electoral reality. We're facing -20% points in the hole, on latest polling, with a likely win for May and her Tories that will be (wrongly) interpreted as support for hard Brexit.
JC clearly doesn't connect with the electorate. Many of his policies do, of course - but it's clear that the modern political reality requires salesmen, far more than policy, and it's equally clear that JC has not sold Labour to... well, anyone, really.
My operating assumption and belief is that Labour will lose this election, and that, having lost, JC will step down as leader. I think both those things are all but inevitable (and I say that as someone who saw the unthinkable happen a humbling number of times in 2016).
That said, I will campaign for Labour anyway. I will do so because I bitterly oppose the Tories, what they stand for, and the damage their reelection will do to the country, from gutting and privatizing the NHS, to brutal assaults on our poorest while providing tax dodges and relief to the white collar criminals that so nearly tanked the economy just a few short years ago, to hard Brexit.
I know not all my friends are leftie or progressive, but I know most of you are. And to you, I want to say this: In this election, there are really only two sides - The Tories, and their UKIP allies, and everyone else. Our electoral system is grossly undemocratic, and for the majority of people who cast a vote in this election, your vote won't count at all in any meaningful way. Sorry, but that's the truth. That said, find out if where you live is remotely marginal (and given the possible size of the swing here, that's gonna be more places than usual). And if you are, for the love of all that's cool and groovy and not evil, vote for whoever will beat the Tory/UKIP.
Yeah, that might mean voting Green, or Lib Dem, or Labour when you don't really want to. I get it. But please face up to the reality - this is going to be a nightmare election result for anyone who believes in progressive political ideas. So do yourself this favor: Know on that night, as the results roll in, that you didn't give into the impulse to posture or protest vote. Know that YOU did what you could to oppose the Tories.
And then, roll up your bloody sleeves, because it's going to be a long, horrible five years.
Here endeth the pep talk.
And then, yesterday, as a sort-of follow up, I posted this:
"Lunchtime Rant (UK politics edition):
I'll say this - I appreciate the Labour party is a broad church, and I respect that there are differences of opinions within party membership about direction and policy. I firmly believe part of our strength is that diversity of opinion and experience.
But we're in THIS fight, and we're in it NOW, with the leadership we have and the manifesto that group has drawn up. If the polls are even close to right, there's going to be plenty of time for postmortems and recriminations. Later. Right now, this is the fight, and this is the ground. I'm fed up to the back teeth with the leaks, and the grumbling from those whose chosen faction is not, currently, in the ascendancy.
If you're Labour, be Labour. Go out and fight for what you believe in, and leave the sniping to the Tories and their press.
This fight is tough enough without us beating ourselves.
EDIT and PS: And thank you to the many comrades who get all of this just fine, and are as fed up as I am. See you on the trail. Stay strong, and stay positive."
And I stand by both positions. With that said. I want to explore some of these issues in a bit more depth, because I'm honestly perplexed as to why people vote as they do, given what they know.
As the big news recently was the leak of Labour's draft manifesto, let's start with talking about policy.
Here's an important place to start: these policies are very popular with voters. Raising income tax on the top 5%, re-nationalizing the railways, guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals living in the UK, nationalizing energy, banning zero hours contract... ah, see for yourself.
It's worth noting these polices are even popular with Tory voters.
Let that sink in for a second. A majority of Tory voters like Labour's policies.
Wouldn't know that from the coverage, would you? Screaming headlines about 'back to the 70's' and scaremongering about 'putting the unions back in charge' and on and on and on - and yet, when stripped of hyperbole and looked at on their merits, majorities on both sides of the political divide nod and say 'yup, sounds reasonable'.
Hold on to that, because it's important. It means something. It means, on policy - on the facts, on what people in this country actually want - Labour has it right. Labour policies reflect the things people say they want to see happen.
And what follows from that positive observation is a very depressing one, which is this: if the polls are within a million miles of right, millions of people are going to vote against their own preferred polices on June 8th.
There's reasons for that, which I'll get into in subsequent posts. For now, though, I just want to close out this initial post with an observation - Labour has the right of this election in terms of policies. Labour people - hang on to that fact, and bloody talk about it, every chance you get. Because if we can make this election about actual policies, rather than slogans and fear, we can - we should - be competitive.
And at the end of the day, isn't that how elections should be decided?