I’m sorry I haven’t been blogging in recent months. It’s been a combination of a bit of a crisis of confidence (which I’m over) and a lifestyle change that’s seen me move away from my desk for a few months. I’m actually working as a tour guide for a bit here in Oxford, before I move with my family to Bristol in late July. It’s been fun!
Anyway, here we are on the eve of another general election. I just want to make one main point – that a vote for Labour is really a vote of confidence in yourself, in ourselves, in society, in hope. I’ll explain what I mean in a second, but, first, this statement comes with a massive caveat: if you are in a constituency where Labour cannot win, but another party other than the Conservatives can then DON’T VOTE LABOUR. PLEASE don’t increase the Tory candidate’s chances by voting Labour. Instead, please vote Liberal Democrat, Green, Plaid, SNP, Sinn Fein, etc. In an imperfect system, we have imperfect choices. We have to vote tactically. I’ll be voting Liberal Democrat in my marginal seat of Oxford West & Abingdon.
Right, that said, check out these two party political broadcast videos…
When I watched the Labour video with my wife the other evening on Channel 4, we were both in tears. As a socialist, I couldn’t believe someone on my TV was saying that we, the workers, produce the wealth in this country and that we are taking it for sharing it among all! The key point I want to make, though, is simply the starkness of difference between the two.
The Tory video is asking us to place our faith in the hands of one person, one party. It’s a tiresome, worn out testament to authority, to charisma(!), to centralised power, to political passivity, to broken promises, to a bankrupt party and political system. In stark contrast, the Labour video is a call to place our faith in our OWN HANDS. There’s a lot of criticism about the backward-looking social democracy of Jeremy Corbyn’s politics. Some of that might be valid. However, a central, crystal clear message of Corbyn’s discourse right from the start of his leadership campaign has been this radical democratic mantra.
In Bertold Brecht’s play The Life of Galileo, one of Galileo’s students feels distraught and betrayed when he finds out that Galileo has recanted his theory to the Catholic Church to save his life. ‘Woe is the land with no heroes’, he cries. Galileo’s reply is profound: ‘Woe is the land that has need for heroes.’ We don’t need strong and stable leaders, we don’t need charismatic leaders. We need faith in ourselves!
Representative democracy is already dying. This is the beginning of the era of an increasing grassroots, communitarian, participatory politics – a real democratic politics. Labour’s video captures the power, energy, and relentless hope of this transition. It’s the struggle between what Paul Mason calls hierarchy versus network that network will ultimately prevail in.
Don’t get me wrong. Anyone who’s read these blogs will know I’m no Labour Party member or voter. And there are many things to criticise about Labour, particularly as a bureaucratic institution. However, it’s also Corbyn who has been pushing hardest to democratise this institution.
So, please, vote tomorrow and vote, where possible, for Labour. And know that a vote for Labour is a vote for yourself, for ourselves, for us.
Whatever happens tomorrow, the tide has already turned. Neoliberalism as a functioning ideology is dead. It was proven dead when Teresa May dedicated her inaugural leadership speech not to the magic and justice of the market, but to those struggling to get by and those suffering from social injustice!! What has been put in its stead are empty words like these on economic opportunity, investment, and social justice and the hatemongering of nationalism. But, the whole spectrum has been shifted leftward by Corbyn’s election. Even UKIP are economic Keynesians now.
Corbyn’s campaign has shown that, surprise surprise, you can run on a social democratic manifesto and do alright in this country. The economically unthinkable and unsayable has become orthodoxy, if not yet policy – nationalisation, rent control, energy market caps, tax rises.
The goal now, whatever the result, is to keep the momentum going, keep the movements growing, keep the alternatives developing, and keep pushing at local, regional, and national levels demands and ideas far more radical than even the Greens promote.
Yours in hope,