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Voting Labour is a necessary act in helping our movement get its act together

14Of course I’m voting Labour. I am an active party member of five years standing. I’ve spent the bulk of my activism this year working in marginal seats (mainly Stafford). And there’s the small matter of 261 posts on this here blog that have obsessed over the party’s twists and turns since back before I hung up my paper selling boots. Whether I need committing I’ll leave others to judge, but I’m committed, certainly. Yet drilling down, like everyone else voting Labour tomorrow, I have my reasons.

Labour’s manifesto doesn’t tick all my boxes. Far from it. I don’t like the capitulation to received wisdom – if it can be called that – about immigration, though it is reasonable to argue that communities with the highest inflows of migrant workers should receive more resources. I don’t like the surrender the scrounger rhetoric, of conceding to the Tory view that generous benefits (what? where?) are to blame for joblessness, not lack of jobs.

But I do agree with Labour’s plan to abolish youth unemployment with a job offer at the end of a period of dole – something far superior to the Tory plan who will banish the problem by not allowing the under 25s to claim JSA. And Trident … well, we won’t go there.

There are some policies that are steps in the right direction. The minimum wage. The repeal of the Health and Social Care Act. Reversal on work tribunal fees. Free childcare. Workers on corporate remuneration committees. More devolution. No EU referendum. A partial break with austerity. The beginnings of a better plan for a different capitalism.

Yes, I’m a tough cookie to please. Then again, this election isn’t about me. It’s about others.

Others like the woman I spoke to the other week in Stafford. She gave birth to her daughter in a motorway layby, because the Tories had stripped out maternity services and sent them up the road to Stoke. Others like the grieving family of a woman who died from a heart condition, shortly after failing her work capability assessment. Others like the autistic man terrified of losing his council house because of the bedroom tax. The woman who’d had her mental health support worker withdrawn, despite suffering a lifetime of horrifying sexual abuse. The chap victimised by his “responsible” employers for questioning his shift patterns. The single mum trapped in a house so damp her asthmatic daughter’s bedroom ceiling caved in.

If the Tories get in again, the lot of millions of people in these situations will not improve. As the Tory assault on what remains of social security provision widens, more people are set to get dragged into the bedroom tax. More profit will be extracted from public medical services. The most vulnerable will be hammered even more to pay for tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy. I don’t know about you, but that is a society unfit for human habitation. A Labour or Labour-led government offers many of the people at the bottom immediate relief.

Yet people who put up with this crap are not hopeless victims. Voting Labour is not an act of charity on behalf of the powerless, of the political equivalent of sticking 50p in a Children in Need tin. It’s a necessary act in helping our movement get its act together.

Be no doubt, if Labour doesn’t win tomorrow, if by some jiggery-pokery combination the main party of the trade unions is locked out of power that is a defeat for the labour movement. But with Labour in power, there is more room, strategically and tactically. Socialism, if it means anything, is about boosting the the well being and political confidence of our people: those who have to work for a living, those who have to get by on social security, those retired after a life time of labouring, and those too vulnerable to fend for themselves. That is what mine – and your – class is.

Tomorrow’s poll is a very modest step on the road to building a better society. If we win, the hard job of continually rebuilding Labour into a proper mass party, of drawing millions back into the labour movement and giving people the confidence to to stand up and fight stands before us. it’s hard work, but it’s much easier if the poisonous Tories are turfed out of office.

I’m voting Labour. And if you are a campaigner, a labour movement person, a socialist; you should too.

This post first appeared at All that is Solid

Image credit: Banksy

7 Comments

  1. There is no alternative to A Labour vote. The choice is Miliband in Number 10 or Cameron.

    That is it. All bets are off if Cameron wins, so back Miliband. Better the devil you know.

    Trevor Fisher.

  2. Robert says:

    Well we will see the turn out today if it’s another 2010 then sadly labour is on a down turn.

    As for the NHS just a month ago I waited six hours to be seen at hospital, while in Swansea a women died while waiting in the back of an ambulance fighting a heart attack with a young doctor who said she should have been in the ICU but the hospital was full.

    13 miles down the road a 17 year old brand new PFI hospital is closing, because the cost to keep it going is to much.

    A week before the election labour says the hospital will now stay open run by GP’s and nurses , if you believe that then you will believe anything.

    I joined labour in 1966 and left in 2010 I’m an associate member of labour as they get my levy because I’m to tired to bother cancelling it.

    Will I be voting labour or anyone else I trully doubt it.

  3. James Martin says:

    It’s a simple trade union issue. We know that if the Tories win we will see further attacks on facility time, further attacks on the right to strike and a continuation of having to pay huge amounts of money to go to a Tribunal if you have been unfairly dismissed or suffered discrimination.

    We know that if Labour win the above will not happen. Regardless of anything else there is only one choice if you want to defend workers today.

    1. Robert says:

      Well of course the Unions will take you through a tribunal for free, so perhaps more people should be joining trade Unions then they can vote for whom they think will give them decent wages.

      1. James Martin says:

        Yes, ET fees are another advert for the benefits of TU membership in one sense, but they are also then a capitalist tax on the unions. I seem to remember that RMT for example estimated that the fees would potentially cost them getting on for a million pounds a year due to the nature of private rail and bus employers who target their activists.

        1. Robert says:

          Well then less money to labour and more money to helping out trade unions members.

  4. David Pavett says:

    I don’t like the capitulation to received wisdom – if it can be called that – about immigration, though it is reasonable to argue that communities with the highest inflows of migrant workers should receive more resources.

    Are we all supposed to know what this means? What is the “received wisdom” to which Phil Burton-Cartledge will not “capitulate”?

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