Sunday, 11 September 2011

Austerity, Integrity and me.

From my perspective Tories stab you in the front Lib dems stab you in the back and Labour?

I’m reflecting over my time as a Labour party member particularly in light of the purple Labour document which is doing the rounds at the moment. It hails allegedly as an antidote to the Blue Labour theory by Lord Glassman.

Right well, that’s much clearer then.

As a member I didn’t really care what colour the latest theory was.

I joined because when my husband lost his job we would have lost our home but for Labour policy. It gave me an abiding love of Gordon Brown who I feel was responsible for many great things which will be remembered far beyond accounts in autobiographies asserting the contrary.

As time went on I became much more worried about the fact that in an historic time of membership engagement which saw me and many others join the labour party we were ignored and disengaged quickly and thoroughly by a slew of speeches from the top brass which made Tories out of us all and in my case a local party which was resistant to “outsiders”.

I live in a Tory town. The average age of the local labour party activists would make them good candidates for a Cocoon remake. This was fine in and of itself but it felt very quickly that they didn’t want “my sort” involved.

I believe in social justice that’s why I joined, I had limited time but wanted to devote as much of it as possible to my new found enthusiasm for politics. I became CLP secretary this was a big mistake.

I wanted to change things so armed with my labour Women’s training learnt at conference I made that clear. The whispering campaigns began. “oh she’s so ambitious” they muttered “who does she think she is?” they whispered “imagine and with those children she could never be a candidate” they asserted.

All of this was relayed back to me by activists who had already faced similar whispering campaigns and treatment. They too had arrived with enthusiasm only to be faced with jealousy and stonewalls, in my opinion.

This, it transpires, is politics.

It’s not what you do it’s what you’re perceived to be overshadowing that others do, by you doing it. I have never seen anything so shortsighted in my life. Weren’t we all on the same side?

“Those children” of mine are disabled so clearly the ideals of social justice which I joined the party to promote were missing a major step here. Apparently it seems to some that when it comes to candidates either councillors or parliamentary, carers are very low down the list of local priorities.

It is in my opinion very toxic here but I maintained my assertion that this was a local problem not a national one. Then Ed gave a number of speeches where he stood shoulder to shoulder with the demolition I mean coalition government on the issue of disability benefits.

There were, he stated, deserving cases but ,he said, we all knew of many people who play the system fraudulently. He’d said this first at his conference address as new leader. He also made a Forrest Gump gag.

I walked out in tears.

I’d enjoyed conference prior to that. Met some fantastic people who are still good friends and had the opportunity to meet some great and dedicated people who with the right opportunity could do a great deal for the party and the country.

But as with my experiences locally the national party seems so embroiled in petty in fighting and divisions, so hell bent of scuppering the ideas of people who may get a little media light they lose sight of the thing they claim to hold most dear. The people they are paid to represent.

It feels that with nonsense like the squeezed middle being uppermost in Labour minds, their target demographic is the Daily Mail readership.

The savaging of the welfare system will and has led to deaths of people who the Labour party should be fighting to protect.

There are passing references made to the vulnerable by all politicians and there is always a scramble to pose with disabled people when the cameras are around but vulnerable people should be remembered and fought for in reality. Sadly they are quickly forgotten when it comes to framing policy.

There was a film at conference which I sat and watched in tears. It stated all of the fantastic achievements by Labour in 13 years of government. DDA, The framing of the Equality Act, sure start centres and NHS waiting lists. All wonderful.

But the infighting the back-biting the suppression of “perceived” threats and the parachuting of malleable candidates, is in my opinion reflected nationally. No wonder politicians who rise through the ranks and achieve a position in their party age so quickly. It must be a nightmare.

The approach to Disability benefits was the reason I left the party. Instead I campaign locally and nationally for the issues which mean the most to me. For the issues which should mean the most to everyone but seemingly don’t.

There are still Labour heroes. Amongst many Jeremy Corbyn, Tom Watson and Johanna Baxter are very decent people who stand out and work hard to make a difference.

The Tories stab you in the front the lib dems in the back and Labour?

Well regretfully it seems to me they are so busy fighting about who will lead the press conference post stabbing, they just don’t have the time.

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