I’d never heard of Tristan Pithers before I’d read of his impending defection. But the fact that he’s only 21 and still a student diminishes his importance not a jot. Young activists are worth many more years than former ministers after all. And reading about his dilemma, I knew exactly how he felt: “I no longer feel that the Labour Party represents me, represents the values I hold or the ideas I believe in,” he says. How many of us on the Left have not felt that?
The trouble is, he explained:
The Labour Party I joined, the Labour Party I worked tirelessly for and the politicians I sought to elect were Blairites. They were modern, forward thinking and inclusive. New Labour won three General Elections. New Labour, as proclaimed proudly by the new leadership, is dead.
OK, we may not agree with his perspective, but surely someone who grew up knowing only a Labour government from the age of six must share our values. Mustn’t they?
I’m pro-business, pro-wealth, pro-private sector investment, pro-individual responsibility. I’m in favour of a benefits cap because I don’t believe the State should subsidise someone’s lifestyle, merely enable them to continue with their life. I want to see lower taxes for people in general. I don’t think the tax system should be punitive to the rich and aggressive towards wealth creators.
Or must feel some affinity with the Labour movement:
I’ve always been uncomfortable with the word ‘Comrade’ being used to greet me on entering a constituency office or reading a local party email. I’m not a massive fan of the word ‘socialist’ being used to describe the party on the back of its membership cards.
It’s saying something though when, after “eighteen-months of soul searching“, this young man considers defecting to the Lib Dems, who’ve abandoned most of the key planks on which they fought the last election and have forsaken most of their support as a result.
Tristan Pithers may well be a principled chap who’s kind to children and animals. Should he stay or should he go?
Do we want him off our backs?
Should he cool it or should he blow?
(hat tip: David Alexander Hough of Labour Left)
UPDATE: And for the sad conclusion to this tale, see here.