Some (ahem) lively debate has sprung up over at TCF over the last 48 hours, and while I feel vastly underqualified to weigh in over there, it has got me thinking somewhat about what I’m to do with myself, with regards party membership.
I realised quite a while ago that I couldn’t continue as a member of the Lib Dems, and regard the 12 months I was a member as something of a waste of time. Having said that, most of the members in Cardiff were lovely people, and the right kind of liberal, too, so it wasn’t a complete waste.
Since then, I’ve officially been “considering my options” (unofficially, that means I’ve been procrastinating horribly), and to be honest it’s not been top of my priorities, coming some way down from number one, which was ‘getting my sodding life back together’, and 1.b) which was ‘being less of a lazy sod’. I think I’ve now achieved those goals, and can now turn to other things, of more long-term significance. And that’s where the debate over there comes into it, I suppose.
I’ve said enough times (not only here, but over at TCF’s comments sections in my former incarnation as ‘JonnyRed’) that I believe Labour as a force of the left is spent and irredeemable. Now, though, I’m not so sure. This is the first time since I was 8 that the party has been in opposition, and there seems to be a bit of collective soul-searching going on within the party.
Moreover, I’ve actually been impressed with some of the narrative coming from the two Eds (Miliband and Balls). I still don’t have what you’d call faith in Balls, but he’s a terrier, and Miliband seems a little wishy-washy but generally fairly supportable.
So the question that poses itself is, “Would I join the Labour party if either of the Eds became leader?” – at the moment I’m not sure, but it’s definitely a possibility. And I’m not one of the Lib Dem lefties who (if you believe Labour) have been fleeing to them in their droves, I’m just genuinely considering whether the Parliamentary Labour Party can be dragged, kicking and screaming if needs be, back to the left proper.
A year ago, I genuinely believed that trades unions should be disaffiliating themselves with a Labour Party which had shit all over them since ’97, and generally speaking this is still the case, but there seems to be an appetite within the Party to embrace not just the language of class struggle but the realities of it.
This is the ‘redemption’ of which the blog title speaks – 12 months ago, hell, even 3 months ago, I didn’t believe in Labour’s redeemability, whereas now I have faith that it’s a possibility – not a certainty, but at least something I can become involved in and seek to change from inside, rather than standing outside the structure and talking down the aspirations of the left within Labour, which are commendable.
Perhaps equally importantly, what are my alternatives, if I decide against Labour Party membership? Well, there’s always the Socialist Party, who of all the far left groups I think represent the best fit for my personal politics, and are active in Cardiff. I’ll have to set myself a deadline of deciding within a couple of weeks of the Labour leadership race being decided.
I’ll either have made a complete U-turn in my opinions of the Labour Party, or I’ll have taken the plunge that I’ve been on the verge of taking for a good while now. Either way, it’ll be a new chapter in my political life.