Sunday, 27 June 2010

We Don't Just Want Signatures

Whilst I totally welcome the influx of Labour Party members since the General Election, something about it still irritates me and also makes me curious about the nature of the political being in the United Kingdom.

This view doesn't represent the view of any party members I have spoken to, it is merely my own view. I have had this nagging feeling about the new members since the day after the election when it became apparent that people were joining at an unusually high rate, but reading a recent article on Liberal Conspiracy urged me to articulate my irritation.

And what proceeds from that urge is something like as follows.

The article, posted by Septicisle, explains what I think is the case for many people. They could not join, and maybe even could not support, Labour whilst it was in government, but now Labour is out and now we are faced with the Tory cuts these people feel the desire or need to join Labour. Let me be clear: new members are always a good thing in my opinion. Always. They provide the party with crucial funds, political legitimacy, a more democratic nature and a base of workers and volunteers. So join, join, join.

However, I can’t help but feel the need to ask the 20,000 or whatever people who have joined since May 6th,

“Where were you when we needed you?”

Septicisle says,

While in government, there was never the slightest possibility that I could have justified to myself being a member of the Labour party.

He also says he is, “...a stereotypically angry leftie. However, I think Septicisle, like many thousands of others, needs to face up to something. Many of the real “angry lefties” in history, the ones we so love, took a disliking to a certain type of political being. From my extensive studying of Che Guevara, I know he took a particularly dim view of this type of political being. It is also the type of political being that is opposed to the progressive political being. This type of political being is the reactionary.

The reactionary is a useless political being at best; a dangerous one at worst. The reactionary supports every piece of public spending from 2005 to 2008 that a government carries out, but then changes its tone in 2009 when a global recession takes a grip on the world economy. The reactionary campaigns tirelessly against what it calls “regressive” policies put forward by an opposing party on things such as VAT, but then backs that opponent once it sees power can be gained from giving its support.

The reactionary has no ideas or values that it can stand up for. It only has ideas and values that it thinks it opposes.

I will always look upon the reactionary with suspicion. Any progressive should. But, as I said earlier in this post, I always welcome new members. However, I would put a challenge to all new members. Whilst the money you bring to the Labour Party is valued and whilst adding your weight to the membership total is appreciated, what we need now is action. I think the new members who felt the same way as Septicisle need to decide what it is they believe in and what it is they want from politics and from the Labour Party. There is a change building within the party and within the Labour grassroots movement. Far from just signing membership forms, people up and down the country are committing their time and energy to becoming re-engaged. Re-engaged with their communities and re-engaged with the people in their communities who share common values, common beliefs and common ideas about achieving the common good. From each of these people will come more people; friends, family, colleagues and also strangers.

Following on from when Septicisle said he would never have joined Labour whilst it was in government, he says,

I was never going to be able to have the slightest impact on party policy. In that sense, nothing has changed.


I put it to the new members, and also Septicisle directly: if you want the chance to act, the chance to not only influence policy but to make changes, then do it. If you want to be a part of a progressive, people-led movement and not merely a reactionary that just opposes without ever being proactive, then the chance is there for you now to learn exactly how. It’s free, it’s widespread and it’s started already.

It was Keir’s way and now it’s going to be our way.


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