Why I will never apologize for being left wing, and why Labour shouldn’t either.

The election happened last week, the Conservatives were elected, and people are angry. I know this not just because people are taking to the streets, but because I wrote a letter. It’s nearly on 300,000 views. The most views I’d had on anything before that was two and I’m pretty sure they were both from my mum. But this time people read it, and people agreed with it. And their voices need to be heard. A shift to the right disregards all those who voted for Labour because they were the closest they could get to left wing. And a shift to the right takes away any possibility of real change.  The middle ground is not some promised land, it’s the barren wasteland that politics has become, full of spin doctors, marketing and personality politics.

If Labour ever want to win they have to stop being ‘not the conservatives’ and start forwarding their own morals. People are losing faith in politics and they need something to believe in. We need politics based on people and not profit. We need politicians who are working towards something not just working towards a pay check. A lot of people have called me an idealist for writing what I did, but I am not offended. We need more idealists in politics, or disillusionment will continue to grow. Left wing arguments are not about individual economic gain because that is not their aim. They are about being moral.

So the debate has got to change.  When we talk about immigration it cannot solely be focused on economic impact, we must also talk about people. And the left should not be ashamed to do so. It does not make you naiive or childish to think about people not as just an economic process. To talk about how much immigration brings to our society culturally and socially. The left have to address what the right does not, which is the value of things based not wholly on their economic input. When we talk about education it is not immature to talk about benefits of education which do not focus on league tables, but interest and passion. Talking about people as people is where the left differs from the right. While the debate centres solely on how much profit our country and business can make, the left will never succeed.

And even if the argument must be centred on economics, the left must show that economically the country would benefit from left wing policy. Far too often, the left are criticized for not understanding the economy. But I understand the economy very well and that’s why I know it has to change. I understand that a higher GDP does not mean more jobs, it does not mean better pay, it means more profit. And I understand quite clearly that profit just does not trickle down. I understand that free reign for the banks leads to economic crashes as I’m sure you’re all very aware. A lack of business regulation does not mean more jobs it means a lack of job stability and desolate working conditions. It means wages being subsidised by the government ultimately losing money for the tax payer and not the business which continues to profit. I understand that in the biggest economic booms we still see poverty, people are still left homeless. So I understand that what we are doing doesn’t work.

And I also understand that there is an alternative. Tax is not a dirty word. Welfare policies require funding and this is how it is achieved. But we need a fair tax system. One which does not allow those who can afford to manipulate it to avoid paying, and one which ensures everyone pays what they can. If we want services and to protect those in need we have to tax and that is not something to be ashamed of.  Investment in job creation in the state sector is profitable in the long run. Short term job creation in the private sector is not sustainable or stable. Fairer, more even wages would stimulate the economy as more people would have the capacity to spend more. There is so much that would benefit this country and the arguments have to start being made.

It is not childish to have morals. It is not idealistic to think we can work for something better. And most of all it is not embarrassing to be left wing. Our election system is flawed and undemocratic, our options were limited and our media dominated by business. We cannot let an unrepresentative vote be the only time our voices are heard. We cannot allow the next 5 years to be wasted. So let’s actually propose a positive alternative on the left and create real positive change.

9 thoughts on “Why I will never apologize for being left wing, and why Labour shouldn’t either.

  1. Excellent Claire – no morals are NOT childish. But we need to go back and re-invent a pride in morality (not the church led `cover they self woman’ type of morality but the `she’s not heavy, she’s my sister’ type. We still sell a story of ambition, ladder climbing, beggar thy neighbour, greed is good. Let’s change a culture and tell a story that says we are strong here on the left, we are willing and able to carry our less well able siblings and we don’t need `stuff’ to make us feel important.

    1. I completely agree! The left is strong it just needs to make sure it is heard and that the right messages come across which is so difficult with the debate being framed how it is by the media.

  2. Totally agree. The problem is that the recieved wisdom, which frames all debate, is that the what’s best for “the market” is more important than any other consideration. The challenge for Labour is, I think, how to make the case that loose regulation, low taxes etc DON’T benefit society as a whole. It’s not something that can be easily put across in our soundbite dominated media.

    1. Yeah it’s so difficult and I don’t know how you change the general perception except from persistently putting your side of the argument across and hoping that even with sound bytes and media bias it eventually comes out!

  3. One of the things I was most upset with Labour about over the past 5 years is this apology for how they had actually dealt with the economy previously. They had been sucked into being apologists for their own policy, which was not unlike the one Obama used in the U.S. and which worked. Labour need to stop letting other people define their own policies. UKIP did it with immigration – they made everyone suddenly have to develop hardline immigration strategies. There is absolutely something for Labour being a party that actually just says, “We’re our own party and we’re not going to be sidelined by the other parties.”

    Also, I hate to say it, because I do love a good potshot at Dave C, but they have to stop this whole almost playground approach to politics. Stop sounding like kids and needling at each other and actually talk about real issues. Politics really must engage with people in this country and it won’t happen if they act like they’re in the playground or become a watered down version of the Tories or even UKIP.

    1. Yeah I completely agree if Labour can alter the debate anywhere near as successfully as ukip then right wing policies will seem out of touch and self centered.
      And definitely. They can definitely still have a go at the conservatives, just with a lot more information to back themselves up! Politics as a whole needs to stop focusing on personality and private life and start focusing on policy.

  4. Reblogged this on AmandaQuirky and commented:
    Sorry for the endless politics (I’ll go back to sex, drugs, and bad poetry soon enough) but we are all still reeling from the election results, this side of the Pond… and this sums up the changes we need much better than I could:

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