Feeling blue about the reds

If you are a reader of the excellent Birdwatch magazine and have glanced at my column in the July issue then you will have noticed that I have cancelled my membership of the Labour Party after almost a decade of membership. I have voted Labour in most elections where I have had the chance to vote since 1976 but have voted Green in all the EU elections I can remember and I’m pretty sure I have voted Lib Dem at times where it looked the best way to prevent a Conservative being elected.

And I am very likely to continue to vote Labour in the future – but I don’t need to be a paid up Labour Party member to give them my vote and I’ve simply run out of patience with the Labour Party. Actually, I think I have been very patient, but Labour now seems pretty shambolic at a time when we need it to be strong. It’s a shame. I hope that Labour regains its direction and sense of purpose and if it does, they may see my money again.

I could give you a long list of my irritations with Labour but that wouldn’t be very interesting for you and not at all cathartic for me. However, as is often the case, it was a relatively minor thing that was the straw that broke this camel’s back. I can understand the expulsion of Alastair Campbell from Labour for voting Lib Dem in the EU elections but I can’t agree with it. Like him or loathe him, there is very little doubt that Campbell is a more solidly Labour person than I am (although my politics are probably to the left of Campbell’s) and if the Party doesn’t think he belongs in Labour then if it gave it a moment’s thought it would probably not think that I belong there either. Nor, it seems, tens of thousands of others. So, I can take a hint.

And just to round this off, I’ll point out that I am not very tribal (IMHO). Although I have never voted Conservative in my life I can imagine circumstances under which I might. If I had ever lived in the constituencies of the following current or former Conservative MPs then I would probably have voted for them: John Randall, Kenneth Clarke, Alistair Burt, Dominic Grieve, Zac Goldsmith, Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen (and that isn’t a complete list but it is getting there!). And I would certainly vote for Caroline Lucas against all comers if I lived in the right part of Brighton and there are plenty of other Green Party candidates for whom I would vote; I’d certainly vote for Natalie Bennett and I’d have voted for Tony Juniper when he stood for the Greens in Cambridge years ago. And if we turn to the Lib Dems then if I were lucky enough to live in North Norfolk then I’d vote for Norman Lamb on his personal merits and not just to keep the Tories out.

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18 Replies to “Feeling blue about the reds”

  1. They do seem a bit of a shambles at the moment, don't they? The whole thing won't work until we get proper PR though: https://www.makevotesmatter.org.uk/first-past-the-post/#unequalvotes

  2. The problem with voting for individuals who may seem to have at least some views that coincide with yours is the whipping system. It ensures that they will (with relatively few exceptions) toe the party line when it comes to votes in Parliament. If you investigated the voting record of some of those you have named, my guess is that you might be appalled.

    1. PeterD - fair points. But, I have looked at quite a lot of voting records and I find plenty that disappoints me in almost all of them. I think we should encourage nice people a bit.

  3. This morning (Thursday) Jeremy Hunt has said he will re- introduce fox hunting if he wins a general election. If he were to win, what chance do birds of prey and mountain hares, as well as foxes, stand against continual persecution. Lets hope Labour have some ideas, then it might be worth voting for them.

      1. Hunt saying he will allow a vote on fox hunting seems like a very shrewd political decision. There must be a lot of members of the countryside alliance (who are also members of the conservative party) who consider fox hunting to be such an important issue that it will influence how they vote. My bet is that conservative party members in urban areas are more likely to side with the majority of people in this country (is it 86%?) who don't support fox hunting but won't consider it an important enough issue to influence who they vote for. Therefore I reckon Hunt will gain a lot of votes and lose very few if any.
        Of those people who took part in the survey Mark did last week has anyone changed their mind on the basis of this announcement? If I was a member of the conservative party and a Hunt supporter (and I'm neither) I would be having serious second thoughts.

    1. Nothing could more perfectly illustrate how this election for the keys to number 10 involves an electorate that is both minuscule and utterly unrepresentative of the country as a whole.

    2. Actually he said that he would allow a vote and that he thought it would never get through parliament, but I take your point.

  4. I don't see how any party could do well against the sustained barrage the Labour party has sustained since Corbyn became leader. From the "balanced" BBC , the "liberal " Guardian and CH4 to the right wing mouth frothers such as the Sun, Mail and Telegraph the flack has been relentless. Just because he is the mildest of social democrats and may undo some of the politically motivated austerity that the Tory party has imposed he has to go apparently. Meanwhile a small extremist party gets to choose the next Prime Minister from between a damaged ex public school boy and a dismantler of the NHS

    1. I think it is a cop out to blame the media. Like it or not, aggressive media coverage goes with the territory of political leadership and part of the challenge is to deal with it. Maybe you think Theresa May only failed because of unfavourable media coverage?
      Whether you agree with his core values or not, Corbyn has been a poor leader, an indecisive fudger and he has failed to live up to the expectations placed on him when he was elected leader.

      1. Did May fail? I thought she had quite good press coverage given how bad she was for the country as a whole and the awful things she was responsible for both as Home Secretary and Prime Minister. I agree with your comments about Corbyn so I don't put all the blame on the press but the attack on Corbyn has been continuous since he was elected and is a perfect example of flack as detailed in Chomsky and Herman's book Manfacturing Consent.This was all I was pointing out.I am surprised that Seamus Milne could not offer more ideas on countering it given his knowledge of what happened to Scargill during the miners strike as detailed in his book The Enemy Within. I would think that if Corbyn had been a Blair clone he would have at least had the lovely liberal Guardian on his side.

  5. Mark, I'm sad that you feel this way. Also a bit shocked that you would consider voting for the individuals you list - as has been said above, the tory MPs you list still support right wing policies. Goldsmith is particularly obnoxious (is he on your list because he is supposed to have green credentials?). My advice would be never to vote for the individual but always for party policies, ie read the manifesto. By withdrawing your direct support for Labour you are giving succour to the right in the party who work everyday to bring down Corbyn (paraphrased from Mandelson). Please reconsider - Labour is the only party with a chance of being in government who would even remotely consider implementing your environmental aims.

    1. I wholeheartedly agree Caz. My only departure from Labour was for the Greens in the recent European elections. Deep down I think Mark knows you are right.

  6. I didn't hold out as long as you, Mark, but then unlike you I didn't vote for Corbyn as party leader. Maybe you have to accept some responsibility for the current state of the party.

  7. That can’t have been an easy decision, Mark, but it is an honourable one.

    My votes have been split between Labour, Green, and Lib Dem . I was briefly a Labour party member back in the 80s but I left because of Militant.

    I dislike Corbyn because he and his fellow travellers have the same nasty smell about them, valuing ideological purity above all else and with the same intolerance of people who dare to be only on the same side and not exactly on the same page. They see the world through the same lens; anyone off message is betraying the Leader, there’s no room for a difference of opinion about how best to achieve shared objectives. The whole Antisemitism business is only the most egregious example of this dismissal of inconvenience evidence.

    But Corbyn’s attitude to Brexit is the thing I find most offensive (which is not to underplay the Antisemitism). After years of championing the members as the people who should determine policy, when they inconveniently disagree with him about Brexit we get… silence. Even people who point out the fact that that lack of clarity costs votes get censured.

    With this Tory shambles Labour are FOURTH in the polls on 18% (Tories 24% Brexit Party 21% and Lib Dems on 20%). If Labour cannot muster a lead over the Tories now, it will never do so under Corbyn.

    Corbyn has betrayed us all just as much as the Tory leadership. When we desperately need an opposition that opposes, we get… nothing but in-fighting. The electoral system we’re saddled with means that only Labour can really stop the Tories taking us into a disastrous no deal exit. I think Corbyn, for all his rhetoric about a jobs-first Brexit, will be happy to allow that default to come about. Apparently any amount of suffering is justified if it hastens The Revolution, Comrade.

    There’s a place around the back of politics where hard left and hard right are quite hard to tell apart. Once it was where Supreme Leaders dreamed of world conquest. Now it’s where they dream of hard Brexit. History will curse both their houses this time too.

    1. 'I dislike Corbyn because he and his fellow travellers have the same nasty smell about them, valuing ideological purity above all else and with the same intolerance of people who dare to be only on the same side and not exactly on the same page.'


      Forgive me, but isn't that exactly the attitude you are displaying?

      As for the allegations of anti Semitism, that narrative started under Ed Milliband (remember him? bacon sandwich, two kitchens, traitorous Marxist father) when he dared to criticise Israel's behaviour towards the Palestinians.

  8. Corbyn has not betrayed me. He offers the only hope I can see of getting the real changes we need. His only real weakness has been to try and work with people who are intent on bringing him down.If you think the Lib Dems or the Tories will solve the problems we have -you have my sympathy.I don't think Mark's decision is honourable, I think it is wrong. But that won't stop me supporting what he does as this Corbyn supporter is happy to allow for differences of opinion.

  9. Describing Jeremy Corbyn as ‘hard left’ is not helpful and, to me, evidence of the relentless campaign to denigrate him and his policies. I listened to an interview of David Owen a few weeks ago on Radio 4, hardly someone associated with the left of the party. He compared favourably a prospective government led by Corbyn with that of Atlee and supported those policies but not him as a leader.


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