I was unable to stick it out with New Labour. The final straw came when Blair took the country to war. For years after I remained in the political wilderness, watching the Labour party consolidate its neo-liberal policies, until finally in 2014, I joined the Green Party.
At the time (and I guess like almost everyone else who follows politics) I never imagined that New Labour would be trounced so convincingly in a leadership election – ever!
Now all of a sudden, many of the policies I have always supported are shared by the leader of the opposition; and a sense of hope permeates the British left.
Jeremy Corbyn is clearly a rare politician, putting principles before career (yes, I get the irony here). He sounds different, he looks different, and judging by the recent national anthem issue he clearly behaves differently. For me, and I’m sure many others, he’s a breath of fresh air. He will certainly shake things up.
What’s more, in Jeremy Corbyn, it seems Labour might finally have regained its soul. So should I rejoin the party?
Well….with apologies to my friends and colleagues who support Labour, my answer is no.
I believe the threat to our planet from human activities is as serious as it gets. For me a sustainable democratic economy is the route to social justice and equality. As well as ending austerity and tackling the gross inequalities in our society, we must deal with climate change and reform our political system into one that is engaging, decentralised, and genuinely democratic.
So I’m staying with the Green party because their vision is basically my vision too: For a political system that puts the public first; and a society that is just, equitable and sustainable. It takes seriously the threat to our planet. As the website says, “Imagine a society capable of supporting everyone’s needs. Imagine a planet protected from the threat of climate change now and for the generations to come. That’s the world we want to create….”
Of course I don’t doubt that Jeremy Corbyn and others in the Labour Party share similar views – there are many areas of agreement – but 20 years worth of Blair’s legacy remains. Significantly perhaps, a sizeable amount of that legacy is sitting behind Jeremy Corbyn on the Labour benches. Winning the hearts and minds of rank and file members was perhaps the easy part. He now has to deal with the Labour party establishment.
Yes I sincerely hope that under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour will become a progressive force for change. But I’ve already made my choice….I’m staying Green.
(Note: As for splitting the left wing vote…I live in an ultra safe Tory seat. Whether I vote Green, Labour or for Micky Bloody Mouse makes no difference. Under our undemocratic first-past-the-post system my vote doesn’t count.)