A friend of mine recently posted the article below about why he has left the Labour Party. I thought it would be interesting for some of the ‘hard core’ of socialist members of the Party to read, to realise exactly what it is to remain in a Party with the New Labour leadership. Too many on the Left of the Party have categorically failed to lay out their plan to “re-take” the organisation- either now or in the aftermath of electoral apocalypse. Maybe this, from a member who counts as average within Labour, might prompt them.
“Last week I clicked the simple cancel button on my direct debit, and the Labour Party get £1.84 less a month than it did before. I know quitting it will have little impact, considering I’ve contributed little money or time over the last year.
However, as a gesture, it was crucial for me to do so.
ideology is a very intangible thing, and I never committed to any particular one due to the shortcomings of following any of them rigidly. There are however principles, if not principles than ideas. The simple idea behind why I joined Labour was simple: I believe that the poor should be less poor and the rich should be less rich.
After a decade a Government has a responsibility to really have made fundamental changes in their view of what society should be, and the crucial thing to me is this: inequality is at an all time high. It has never been higher, not even under Thatcher. This is not some statistical technicality, it’s visible around me. Time and time again I see inherited wealth meaning people can lounge about, working if they choose to do so and using that wealth to get influential jobs in journalism and politics. Time and time again I see young people of my age, paying nearly all their low income on rent because of a housing shortage.
There is a huge housing shortage in this country, and it barely talked about in the mainstream media or the New Labour Party because it has been the base of huge amounts of wealth for the affluent middle class. Conversely though, there should be nothing more offensive to a Labour Party than people sponging money from capital investments rather than actually working. The Labour Party has remained silent, disgustingly not arguing originally with the Conservative proposition to raise the inheritance tax threshold.
The Labour Party has retreated on this crucial element. The right to live in a house or flat on one’s own should be a basic right, and it has been for decades. After the Thatcherite period, this is no longer the case. None of the money from The Right To Buy has been put into new social housing, and nothing has been done about the increasingly extortionate rent costs that people are paying. Forced by the ghettoisation of council estates from the right to buy policy, people on low income have been forced into hugely expensive rental or eventually impossible-to-pay mortgages. Labour remain silent, building pathetic amounts of housing, lower than ever,
This is just a single section of how Labour has failed to tackle the real fundamental issues the Left should engage in. Faith schools and private education continue to maintain class and religious divisions, with private schools more than replacing the inequalities of the grammar school system. The sheer lack of redistribution is also pathetic. The key tenant of wanting a better society is surely that those who work the hardest should be adequately rewarded, but investment bankers and inheritance spongers enjoy the greatest income disparity with hard-working minimum wage workers ever since records began of inequality.
Labour’s measures on these issues has been limpwristed, unsustainable handouts here and there, many of them to middle class families. Do high-income married couples need £200 to buy food for their child during pregnancy? These handouts are at times cynical and far too beaurocratic and easily abused than proper, simple tax redistribution. How about cutting tax for lower earners, who proportionately pay more of their income in tax than the rich?
This Labour Government has been a failure in the key fundamental issues that are important to me, and that’s before I even get started on the expenses scandal, showing numerous ministers of Labour stock absolutely trashing the traditions of the party. All-women shortlist and ethnic minority lists are simply diversions, not tackling the real problem of careerist politicians milking the system for every penny they can get in their bloated wallets.
The only argument I hear is that I by quitting Labour I am somehow supporting a Conservative victory, that is not true, but my disgust at Cameron’s Etonian party of rich-friendly policies and social conservatism does not cancel out Labour’s failures. The Labour Party of the earlier 20th century would have loved this decade to put real change in, and all this New Labour government has done is remain silent on the neoliberal social trends that are tearing apart families and taking away basic rights such as housing from the poor. Being better than the Tories only earns my vote, not my membership.
This rant wasn’t clever, it wasn’t funny, but it was pretty damn cathartic.”