If there is anything like a progressive alliance in May, or at the next General Election, it’s going to have to be based on something better than party politics. Last week, I wrote a piece calling for independent candidates for next year’s council elections (well, any elections that happen next year really) because it seems to me that whilst party politics becomes an increasingly opaque scrum for individual gain, the vast majority of us see vital, urgent issues being neglected.
Party politics has failed us
We need people to stand up for the NHS, for public services and transport, for action on the unbelievable pressures on our kids, to stand consistently against poverty and deprivation, and for the urgency of addressing the climate crisis. We don’t need whole swathes of people wasting their time canvassing and leafletting for a bunch of tribal party types who might stand up for us, but only when it fits in with their inter-party and intra-party wars.
Since I left the Labour party, I had been pondering whether I’d vote red or green, locally. We have a pretty solidly socialist bunch of Labour councillors at the moment and, although they’ve struggled with financial issues as local government funds drop away, and baulked at dealing with the more vitriolic identity politics issues that concern many, I suspect they are exponentially better for us than a Tory council would be.
Tory councils in less affluent areas have a worryingly consistent record for doing nothing but serving their own business interests, and we all know now that voting Lib Dem always comes out as voting Tory really, so it would have to be red or green.
Scandal! Drama! Defection!
Or so I was thinking when the latest denounce-and-defect scandal hit my town.
Three councillors have walked out of Labour in my borough during my time in the Labour Party. I think I had the most sympathy for the one that raged out at the start of the Corbyn era – although I utterly disagreed with him politically, the scene had changed dramatically and from his point of view unexpectedly. If all the other Corbyn deniers had done the same instead of staying in and rowing with their ‘comrades’, we’d probably have a Corbyn government in office now.
The other two defectors though, were elected into a situation they were well aware of, then raised hell and walked out. The first ‘suddenly’ discovered the Labour Party was ‘rife with anti-semitism’, and wrote a lengthy diatribe accusing just about everyone, including our town’s two most prominent Jewish socialists.
The most recent one did something almost identical but in relation to the ‘trans rights’ situation rather than alleged anti-semitism. (Personally, I see that as trans demands v women’s existing rights – it should be a respectful negotiation, not endless cries of ‘transphobia’ but anyway….) In both cases, they were referring to well-known situations, and not adding a jot of evidence to suggest anything new had actually happened.
The most recent even refers to ‘something’ (she didn’t say what) said on Facebook several years ago, along with a couple of other pieces of demonstrable nonsense so why the sudden outrage immediately after she was safely elected? Seems to me that has to be planned drama – sabotage tactics.
Identity v solidarity
Identity politics does famously work against class politics and as a result, against group loyalty so it’s not surprising as a human phenomenon, and councils survive worse but for me now, as a non-party person, where does it leave my voting intention? The first two defectors went independent but the most recent was immediately welcomed into the arms of Green Party – they are clearly laying the ground to use it against Labour in the May elections. She says their values suit her better and I could sympathise with that had she not ridden into office as a Labour councillor a mere few months ago, and immediately upon election, turned and accused the entire Labour group.
Bearing in mind that most people do have a pretty well-developed sense of fair play, I see comments around the issue on social media suggesting these events are not going to play well for red or green, and I also see that the fallout is going to take up a lot of hard pressed council workers’ time for a while yet.
Well I certainly won’t vote for the manipulators and operators I’ve seen in action lately, so here’s hoping for some strong, independent candidates in my town ready to devote their time to things that matter to us, as the best of our Labour councillors have been doing (often thanklessly) for a long old time. One thing I definitely won’t be doing is supporting people who rode in on the back of other party activists’ efforts, nor for a party that tries to worsen, and take advantage of, the resulting troubles.
Red or independent? It depends what’s on offer.