Friday, 9 December 2011

Two Priorities for a Labour Opposition

The Fun of Online Politics
I had a great time yesterday. I was, in fact, spring-cleaning, but I was listening to Radio 4 while I did so. Every time the radio provoked a thought, I broke off, went on the computer, and tweeted it. Then I trawled through my twitter-feed, and passed on the best links to the two Labour Party facebook groups I follow.

One of my tweets was even retweeted
– so my thought was shared to thousands of people all over the world. Exciting!
Apparently, people spend hours (and money!) building imaginary farms and virtual neighbourhoods on the computer. I cannot understand it. Why waste your time on imaginary worlds, I remember thinking, when you can have a real effect on this one?

The Pain of Reality
Today started off as exciting as yesterday. I always love Tom Pride’s political satires, and today’s was hilarious! At the end, Tom invited us to comment, and so I scrolled down to the Comments.

And that’s where I read this, from a contributor named Janann. It is worth quoting in full:

I have had enough of living — life was bad enough in the 60s and 70s and 80s then came Labour — us single parent scum prayed that people would see we were not free- loaders but woman and sometimes men, whom by what ever means (for woman mostly running from violence or the father free to walk and never return) Even under labour life was not easy —– i have ill family — since these despicable lot has come into power (power being the tories buzz word and control, of the libdems, the puppets) have not just started destroying lives – they are digging us into early graves. people are afraid. terrified. The right wing press are spreading lies and it is breaking my heart – i am seeing on of my children fighting for their life daily………….we are human beings……..the cap doffing era belongs in the 18/19 and early 20th century……………i am so very afraid…….for my family…….regards A SINGLE PARENT SCUM NO-BODY OF THE UNITED KINGDOM.

I hope it affected you as much as it affected me. I am retired, and so not immune to this government, but – in all the excitement of politicking and tweeting and lobbying and signing petitions – I had for a moment
forgotten (and was comfortable and warm enough to be able to forget) why we are campaigning.

Politics is not a game for people like Janann; for people at the bottom of the pile, the people at whom this Tory government is taking main aim. I have a suspicion that, when historians of the future write the social history of the Cameron government, they will be much more likely to use Janann’s comments as evidence of the reality of poverty in Cameron’s Britain … than, say, a quote from Ed Milliband. We need to remember, in amongst the debate, that we are fighting to defeat REAL need, REAL oppression, and suicidal despair – the ‘Giants’ which Beveridge took on in 1942 and devised the Welfare State to destroy.

The Reality of Disenfranchisement
So, Janann was a welcome wake-up call to get back on task, a reminder of WHY I was tweeting and posting, but then I read on.

Janann was answered by someone called Steve. Steve said two things that concerned me greatly.
Here is his first thing:

i wont be voting tory in ANY future elections, and until they get rid of that weasle miliband i wont be voting labour either,, and as for the cleggie party, not a flaming chance,,, which leaves minority parties,,, time for a bit of research methinks!

But then he went on:

i dont know much about left and right, who is which, and or why they are there, all i know is, electioneering consists of making promises to win votes, which are then immediatly dropped once in office for the alternative policies with alterior motives.

It struck me that Steve’s was as much a cri de coeur as Janann’s. But if Janann’s was a world where the elite despised her, Steve’s was a world with no one to trust.

For Steve, all politicians are liars, ‘right’ and ‘left’ mean nothing – one is as bad as the other – and all the three main parties are discredited. Which leaves the minor parties … such as the BNP, presumably? You begin to understand why Hitler could rise to power in Weimar Germany.

The problem for the Labour Party is not just to drag its attention away from politics-for-the-sake-of-politics, but for it to persuade people that it is THE best alternative – the reliable alternative, the trustworthy alternative – to this wicked Tory government.

The Task
So there, Labour Party people, are our two priorities, laid out before us, incarnated in two people:
1. How can we best help Janann?
2. How can we recruit Steve?


  1. Yes Jannan's stood out for me too.
    Too often politics is a game for us.
    These are real people's lives.
    Good post.

  2. An excellent post!, i feel a tiny bit safer, knowing that good people like yourself and Tom are (although in the minority) i fear, not going to be heard loud enough or indeed quick enough to be heard, i am not great with words but i am passionate about being a lady of left labour tendencies.Thankyou both for coming into my life and giving me the breath of goodness and kind heartedness that seems to have left most hardened greedy individuals lately, i am somebody whom has and will always side with those who fight with intelligence and never with fists, heartfelt thanks for being real people who truly speak sense, i Kim Cousins applaud you and all like you Thankyou!

  3. Compare this excellent article about politicians actually ENGAGING: