Somehow, last weekend, after the Scottish Referendum which saw a 84.5% voter-turnout, I was heartened to read articles from a couple of journalists making observations such as: “This campaign wasn’t about politicians persuading people how to vote, but people persuading politicians… and “On both sides of the referendum, people were energised by an astonishing proposition: take everything you're used to in politics and imagine you could put it to one side and start again. At that, the people did the talking and politicians were forced to listen”.Even I felt somewhat encouraged out of my cynicism.
Since then, of course, we’ve had the Labour Party Conference… and I’m afraid I’m now back fighting my fears that the Tories (perhaps even in collaboration with UKIP, perish the thought) will win next year’s General Election and we can all wave goodbye to public services, the NHS and education as we know it… It seems to me that, despite their continuing lead in the opinion polls (although it’s now down to 2% and apparently shrinking on a daily basis), the Labour Party (and, in particular, its leader) hardly comes across as a credible alternative to the current Tory/LibDem lot in the eyes of the country. Given all that has happened over the past 4 years or so, the Opposition SHOULD have been able to make mincemeat of a whole raft of government policies, but it has categorically failed to do so.
Journalist Kevin McKenna’s article in today’s Observer is entitled “Labour in Scotland is Dying. Does anybody care?” strikes a similar note in some ways… except that I think that his remarks could be applied to the nation at large.
As some of you will already be aware, my political views are “left-of-centre”. For virtually all of my life, the Labour Party has been the political party with which I most closely identified. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that they now seem only just a little to “left” of the Tories (a slight exaggeration perhaps, but you know what I mean!). So, I find myself left unable to give my backing to ANY of the main political parties.
These days, the ONLY party that I feel able to support and vote for (in both local and national elections) is the Green Party.
Sadly, the chances of the Green Party forming the next government is a somewhat remote possibility. The best I can perhaps realistically hope for is for the Green Party to win say 10-20 seats which would enable it work in collaboration with the majority(?) party and be able to influence government policies for good.
I suspect that there are a lot of people who feel similarly about the inadequacies of the Labour Party and have real fears at the prospect of a right-wing Tory government.
Sadly, the way the current election process is arranged, the outcome of the next General Election is likely to be decided by the outcome of 25 or so marginal seats. It’s very easy to shake one’s head and sit back and watch as one’s worse fears become reality. The alternative might be to hope for some of that Scottish referendum spirit and for people to make demands of their politicians/parliamentary candidates.
But hoping won’t be enough… we need urgent grassroots action across the country. People’s passion for politics (not politicians!) needs to be galvanised.
I’ve never been a member of a political party, but I think I’m going to join the Green Party.
Photo: is this the government in waiting or just a rather disillusioned shadow cabinet front bench? (photo from The Observer).