I’ve just finished re-watching a DVD about, and by, Tony Benn: “Will and Testament”. I recommend it highly, even if you think you have no interest in politics. It reminded me of my own history, and of my parents’ and their parents’ histories. It also reminded me of why I’m voting Labour, even though I think a Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn may not win.
You might ask “Why are you voting for him if you think he can’t win?” My response is a) I’m not voting for a leader of a political party. I’m voting for my constituency candidate, b) I’m a socialist and I believe in what the Labour Party is trying to do with their manifesto. Leaders come and go, and more than one serving Prime Minister has been replaced by their party while in office anyway, but why would anyone decide their voting intentions on the basis of wanting to be on the winning side, rather than on principles and policy? That seems to me almost worse than not voting at all. Not voting is a betrayal of those thousands who have died to win us the right to vote, and those all over the world who still don’t have a vote. I’m not encouraged by the fact that 30% of the electorate couldn’t even be bothered to vote in the Brexit Referendum but, PLEASE, you have to vote. If you aren’t registered you only have until 23:59 on 26th November to do it.
Now, back to my DVD. Jeremy Corbyn is no Tony Benn but he’s been subjected to the same vicious character assassination that Tony Benn (and Michael Foot) was. The same vested interests, the same powerful forces, (and even some in his own party, just as Tony Benn was), have tried to make sure he fails. It doesn’t matter that the words coming out of his mouth are much the same as those of other socialists in the past, he’s seen as a threat to the establishment. Well, take no notice. What is a threat to the establishment is you and me. Our votes, for our constituency candidate, are a threat. When I put my bit of paper in the ballot box I’m saying, “I don’t care what you think, I don’t care about the polls and the media, this is what I think”. It wouldn’t even matter if Jeremy Corbyn lost his own seat, after all he is only one MP, as long as a Labour government was returned. The choice isn’t Corbyn or Johnson it’s Labour or Conservative. Left or Right. The choice is between a party and government with a history of making the poor and defenceless pay for repairing damage caused by the excesses and failures of their policies, and one that doesn’t. Even the right-of-centre New Labour project didn’t do that. The choice is not between two people but between two parties whose gut instincts are diametrically opposed. One imposed “austerity”, cuts in education, police, social care, health, pensions, defence etc., and will do more given the chance. The other one would roll back austerity, making the people and corporations that caused the mess in the first place pay for cleaning it up. The choice is between a party that believes having any kind of job (even one with no contract or zero hours) is aspirational, and one that believes secure work, and being paid a living wage for what you do, is inspirational. The choice is between a party that believes the social and industrial infrastructure of the country should be in private hands, and one that doesn’t. The choice is between a party that thinks homelessness and food banks are a Dickensian obscenity and one that couldn’t really “give a toss” (Mr Raab please note). I know what I want. 10 years of Conservatism is more than enough. Never mind what the Conservatives say they would do, look at what they have done. Warts and all, I’m voting Labour.