Why I (might) be joining the Labour party (for at least a year).
Well, nothing's changed, or at least has with me personally. I still feel dispossessed from the movement I should be able to belong to; I'm still a stereotypically angry leftie, still naive and still completely uncertain of my own surroundings. The change, it has to be admitted, is that the government I found myself raging against which I felt I ought to be able to at least sympathise with, is now no more.
Frankly, I should have taken a reality check a long time ago, but a change of government to the traditional opposition is something that always results in a reappraisal. I can't help but wonder, especially in the aftermath of this week's budget, whether Polly Toynbee and those like her have had a point all along; that while the economic situation for so long was, if not rosy, at least neutral, that we took it for granted and instead focused to the detriment of inequality on civil liberties and also foreign policy.
Before I start recanting almost everything I've written over those 5 long years, all I'm admitting is that she has something approaching a point. Civil liberties should never have become a middle class concern because they affect everyone equally; it's the Labour party and the authoritarian streak which it has always had which ensured that was the case.
While in government, there was never the slightest possibility that I could have justified to myself being a member of the Labour party. I was never going to be able to have the slightest impact on party policy. In that sense, nothing has changed. I'm still highly unlikely to have the slightest impact on party policy. I can however, this time, at the very least vote for the next leader of the party. I can at least attempt to make my voice heard.
I'm not completely decided yet. And it's true, I could make a different case, in fact probably a far better one, for joining the Greens and helping to build them as a real alternative. I've voted for them the same number of times as I have for Labour after all (both times in the European elections, and last month, which I don't in the slightest regret. I've voted for Labour twice locally and, to my still eternal regret, in 2005, in a futile attempt to save a doomed MP who had at least abstained on the war and voted against the worst of the anti-terrorism legislation). They'd probably be far more in tune with my actual views though, and as this blog perhaps has shown, where's the fun in being in a party where people actually agree with you? Complaining, moaning and conducting why-oh-why exercises like this one are far more fun and intellectually nourishing, if not actually helpful in the long. Oh, and I can join for the colossal sum of a whole pound, so it's not even that I'm vastly contributing to the coffers or a party which will take my money, ignore me, and carry on as before, as it undoubtedly will. You can of course, if you so wish, persuade me otherwise. And let's face it, the more votes that go to people with names other than Ed Balls, Andy Burnham and David Miliband the better.
Update: This has been crossposted over on Lib Con, with the usual fine debate following in the comments.