Thursday, November 28, 2019

Vote Labour for our chlldren - and our parents.


It has become a cliché to refer to each General Election as the most important since, well, the last one. This time it might be true, and I haven’t been blogging much because the little time I have is better spent in the real world.

Today though I was neither blogging nor campaigning, but rather being pushed in and out of equipment that cost our NHS hundreds of thousands of pounds. In the USA I would have been charged fees I could not afford to pay for such treatment – unless I had an insurance policy to pay for treatment for me which others would be denied.

If Johnson wins his majority the NHS that is working so hard just now to save my life from cancer may have a life expectancy considerably shorter than it is giving me – and that will the least of our worries.

A Tory Brexit would also pave the way for a “Fortress Britain” in which the racism and xenophobia which would worsen our economic plight would be magnified in response to the problem they themselves had caused.

As a parent it is obvious to me that, of course, I want a Labour Government not so much for myself as for my children (even if only one of them could avoid all tuition fees immediately as a result of our victory).

Labour’s Green New Deal offers some hope for the future, which we know we won’t be offered by a Tory Government, and our Government would offer improved employment rights to the next generation.

A Labour Government might offer my children some part of the hope which I had at their age, that the creativity inherent in our humanity could make our world better, rather than worse, as the years go by.

Like all parents though, I am also a child. I am lucky to be a child of two parents still living. I want a Labour Government as much for my parents as I want it for my children.

That’s not so much about immediate material interests. My parents are in their eighties and, although a Labour Government will offer them greater dignity and respect in old age, I know they aren’t looking for anything for themselves.

I want a Labour Government in my parents’ lifetimes because I want to validate the love and hope which they passed on to the children they brought up in the 1960s and 1970s.

I was brought up to believe all people equal, that love is more powerful than hate and that we are all responsible for each other. For decades this rotten society has abandoned those ideals (because “there is no such thing as society”).

But I know my parents were right. I want a Labour Government not just for myself and my children but also to show my parents a victory for our ideals that while they are still here to see it.

It’s not that victory will ever prove we are right (any more than years of defeat have ever made us wrong). It’s just that, like all good children, I want my parents to approve of what I – and all of us – have done.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

How is the General Election campaign going?


I don’t know.

You don’t know.

The opinion pollsters don’t know.

In fact, from canvassing over many years, I know just how popular “don’t know” is as a response on the doorstep.

Indeed, if canvass returns could predict election results the only people who would beat the “don’t knows” would be the people who aren’t in when you call.

Where are they all? If we knew where they were and what they were up to while we are trying to canvass them we would doubtless be better informed.

What I do know is that every socialist, every trade unionist (indeed every decent human being) can step up our activity to campaign for a Labour Government over the next fortnight.

We will campaign for Labour everywhere, because everyone (except perhaps for the more selfish billionaires) will benefit from a Labour Government – but the most important campaigning will be in the marginal seats.

We also need to build up our organisation as the Labour Party, because whatever the outcome of the General Election we will need to be able to mobilise people on an unprecedented scale, whether to defend our Government from sabotage or to resist the attacks upon us which would come from the Tories.

Like Harold Wilson, our answer to the question "what is going on" needs to be; "we are".

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Campaigning for socialism - think strategically, act locally


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Today I was proud to be part of the launch of Labour’s General Election campaign in Brighton Pavilion, supporting our candidate Adam Imanpour.

Adam gave the speech he would have given had there been time for a proper selection process (that’s a question to which we will return after the General Election, and NEC members had better be ready to account for their failure to permit constituencies to commence selection much earlier when we were asking to).

Members attending the launch event, which was followed by well attended street stalls in the constituency, asked Adam about the issues upon which we should focus in our campaign. One issue which did not detain us long was the question of whether we should stand a Labour candidate in Brighton Pavilion, where the incumbent (and sole Green) MP Caroline Lucas is viewed by elements on the political left as some sort of secular saint.

Of course the more than 15,000 local people who voted Labour in Brighton Pavilion in 2017 have the right to be offered the chance to vote Labour again in order to support a candidate who wants to be part of a Parliamentary Labour Party in order to offer unequivocal support to a socialist Government led by Jeremy Corbyn.

The Green Party have not asked us to stand aside in Brighton Pavilion, have formed a “Remain Alliance” at national level with the pro-austerity Liberal Democrats and are standing against an excellent socialist (and pro-Remain) MP in our neighbouring constituency of Brighton Kemptown.

Labour and the Greens work together constructively on Brighton and Hove City Council, where the Labour administration and Green opposition have shared commitments to progressive policy objectives which reflect the views of the vast majority of local voters who backed our two parties in local elections. We must continue this sensible approach to progressive politics at a local level.

Nationally we are now in a General Election period, in which the choice facing the country is whether we have a right-wing Tory Government led by Boris Johnson or a socialist-led Labour Government with Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister. Labour will stand candidates in every constituency in Britain, and campaign to support those candidates.

Of course the most vital campaigns are those which will be fought in marginal constituencies, such as East Worthing and Shoreham and Hastings and Rye, and in Brighton and Hove the front line for socialists, radicals and progressives is securing the re-election of Lloyd Russell-Moyle. Labour Party members are, thankfully, quite capable of supporting both our own local candidates and our Party’s nearby priorities.

This is all very much what I had to say a few weeks before the last General Election. I think I was right then. As to now, well, we shall see.