This post has been created specifically for my family and friends, a select few of whom I will be sending it to prior to the election. The intention isn’t to be argumentative, or to be disruptive, not at all; I am writing this article because I passionately believe in Labour, and if the country goes to the polls tomorrow and I haven’t done everything in my power to gain votes for the party I believe in so strongly, I won’t forgive myself. So let’s get into it.
I am mostly a calm and thoughtful person, however I have a tendency to become quickly impassioned when discussing one of three subjects: politics, ethics, or The Clash. Today, I’m going to talk about only two of those (sorry, Joe Strummer, but you’re going to have to sit this one out), and I am going to endeavour to remain measured in my reasoning.
The UK general election takes place tomorrow, in a country more divided than I have seen it in my lifetime. I am going to be voting for Labour tomorrow, and though my Twitter feed may betray more than a tad of indignation where the Conservatives are concerned, in this article I’m going avoid hectoring and instead simply list my reasons for voting the way I am. So then, in no particular order:
This is arguably the most difficult and delicate point to discuss, because words are so easily twisted where fevers are raised. Terrorism is a form of warfare employed when one side has vastly inferior numbers and resources. ISIS use terror as a recruiting tool. They can’t be bombed to oblivion, because they are not an army. I believe, as does Labour under Jeremy Corbyn, that the way to lasting peace and a reduction in fatalities does not, therefore, lie in bombing and war, it lies in seeking to cut off the funding of terrorist groups so that they run out of resources, and avoiding repeating the mistakes of the past that lead to the creation of ISIS in the first place.
Saudi Arabia has been linked with funding for terrorist groups. The current government sells arms to the brutal Saudi regime. I want this to stop, as I hold the belief that no good ever came from selling weapons to a backward, terrorism-linked regime, and I believe Labour are the ones to stop this. I also believe that police presence should be increased, and not cut.
I want to grow old in a world free from the possibility of the sky suddenly turning glaring white, and me being incinerated where I stand because someone tweeted at Donald Trump calling him a fat orange wanker and he lost his temper and slammed the big red button.
Labour will renew Trident, but will work towards a nuclear free world. The ‘nuclear deterrent’ logic works like this: if we fire first, we are murderers. If we fire second, it wasn’t a deterrent, and we are dead anyway. Plus the fact, if we are so sure we could fire a retaliatory nuclear warhead, then why should we assume that whichever country we bomb couldn’t also fire a retaliatory missile, thereby negating the ‘strike first’ plan, because whether we fire first or second, either way, we are hit by a nuclear bomb. Unless, however, we are talking about bombing a non-nuclear weapons bearing country, in which case we would not only be immoral, but insane.
Hundreds of other nations do not have nuclear capabilities. Have they been suddenly pounced upon by the remaining nuclear powers and blown to oblivion upon renouncing their weapons?
Labour will work towards a world where we don’t need to ask these questions.
On Alec Shelbrooke, my local Conservative MP
Alec Shelbrooke’s voting record is online in full. You can view it here. If you don’t have the time, here is some information from the page, verbatim.
- Generally voted against equal gay rights (2 votes for, 2 votes against, 3 absences)
- Voted a mixture of for and against allowing marriage between two people of same sex (2 votes for, 2 votes against, 2 absences)
- Generally voted against laws to promote equality and human rights (2 votes for, 5 votes against, 2 absences)
- Consistently voted against investigations into the Iraq war (0 votes for, 1 vote against)
- Almost always voted against a right to remain for EU nationals already in living in the UK (0 votes for, 10 votes against, 3 absences)
- Consistently voted against raising welfare benefits at least in line with prices (0 votes for, 5 votes against)
- Generally voted against measures to prevent climate change (4 votes for, 15 votes against)
The very first bullet point is enough for me to refuse him my vote. I’ll say no more on the man.
I am lucky now to have a good, well paid job that allows me to live comfortably. However, I am privileged to have older family members who already worked in the industry I gained entrance to. I went to university, I got my degree, I stepped out into the world of work, and for two years, nothing but calls centres would have me. The degree I had wasn’t worth the paper it was written on, and yet it had cost me some £18,000. My younger brother’s degree will, by the time he is finished, have accumulated him a debt somewhere in the vicinity of £36,000.
On Young People
I am voting Labour because I feel that young people are being forgotten about in the UK, and neglected. From every headline, from every TV interview, young people are told we are a useless generation of snowflakes and entitled little shits, and to add injury to a decade of insult, tuition fees have trebled. Not one of my friends is entitled in any sense of the word. I don’t know one young person who thinks the world owes them anything – except perhaps for the same liberties and privileges enjoyed by previous generations, like affordable housing, affordable education, and a career ladder that runs vertical instead of horizontal.
Trying to find work post-university, I got stuck into this cycle: apply for a job relevant to my degree – employer says I need minimum two years experience – offers an unpaid internship lasting a year with possible employment at the end – I decline because I can’t work a year for free because I need to eat – repeat ad infinitum, until I took a minimum wage job in a travel agent call centre which rendered my degree useless.
This is the world my generation are inheriting, and if it wasn’t for my family helping me, I’d still be at that call centre.
On the NHS
I quite like being alive.
I believe healthcare is a human right, and a nation’s healthcare system is the basis on which any society’s greatness should be judged. My whole life, the National Health Service has been the first thing I’d list when I explained what made me proud to be British. If I get ill, if a loved one gets ill, if someone has an accident, the NHS is there. That is the sign of a truly wonderful society, and I am prepared to fight to keep it that way.
I think that this is a moral issue before anything else. I would happily pay more to help out those who have less. I believe that in a true society, that is how we grow and flourish together. I had often said (albeit usually drunkenly to strange people at parties who aren’t really listening) that I believe that it is strange that we can afford and justify buying gold watches and jewellery, but we draw the line at contributing more tax to causes such as the NHS and welfare for parents to buy nappies for their children.
We all work equally hard for our money, however some of us succeed and some fail, due to any of near-infinite possible reasons. I believe that the ones that fail to make their million do not deserve a vastly reduced quality of life because of it.
Oh and the ‘magic money tree’ exists. It’s over on the Cayman Islands.
On Patriotism, Brexit, and the United Kingdom’s New Place in the World
The Empire is gone, although it seems that several newspapers haven’t realised it. I believe that jingoism, bizarre threats and traded insults have absolutely no place in securing a prosperous future for the UK. In negotiating Brexit, I want a leader who is calm and even handed, and can operate under pressure. I want someone innately likeable, with a strong belief in listening as well as speaking. I want someone who understands nuance in debate, and who doesn’t simply repeat soundbites and slogans.
On Leadership, and Jeremy Corbyn
I went to see Jeremy Corbyn speak in Leeds last summer, and for the first time in my life I felt that there was a politician who spoke for me. The crowds were so great that I didn’t actually make it inside the arena where he was giving a speech, and myself and a thousand or so disappointed faces were left standing outside. However, Jeremy Corbyn slipped out of the venue while the opening speakers were onstage, and gave an unscripted, impromptu speech to the crowd outside. He spoke off the cuff for 45 minutes about the changes needed in society, before heading inside to address the main crowd. I have truly never seen a man work harder for the country.
I admit that last year, and even earlier this year, there were times when supporting Jeremy as Labour leader has been difficult. I have been told, to my face, that ‘people like me’ are responsible for the death of the Labour party. I have been called immature, an idealist, a fool, I’ve been made to feel stupid for my views time and time again, and whenever I felt self doubt that perhaps I was truly wrong, that maybe privatising the NHS and keeping Trident and funding Saudi Arabia’s regime and reducing taxes for the super rich were actually sound economic choices, I looked to Jeremy Corbyn.
Through everything, through all the bile and the venom spewed at him every single day by the media, despite PMQ’s after PMQ’s of him being jeered at and shouted over by rival MP’s, he was still there, smiling politely, listening and nodding, and persevering with his aim to build a better Britain for everyone in it. On the worst days last year around the second leadership election, I felt like the world was against me. Then I imagine how he must have felt. I wonder how many times he looked in the mirror and considered packing it all in and going back to his home in Islington and saying ‘sod the horrible lot of them’. I would have done, a hundred times over. But Jeremy Corbyn didn’t, because the strength of his conviction and his vision of a fairer society never wavered. Despite everything, he kept pressing forward.
If that’s not a leader, I really, really don’t know what is.
I’ll be completely honest, I am terrified of tomorrow. I’ve said it before; I’m an idealistic realist. I aim for the stars and expect to miss. I never used to be, but after the shock political events of 2016, I am fairly sure I am in for utter disappointment. In fact, you know what? I originally typed the word ‘heartbreak’ instead of ‘disappointment’, but I deleted it for fear of seeming overly emotional. But if there’s ever a time for emotion, it’s now.
In my lifetime, I have seen the world grow darker, and darker, and darker still. Finally, after a lifetime of being apathetic and lacking any hope of change, for once there is a politician, a party, a manifesto that I believe in. I have a vision of a Kingdom that is not only United in name. I want to feel proud to be English again. We can wave all the Union Jacks we want, sing the national anthem until we’re hoarse, but true patriotism isn’t saying you love your country, it’s showing you love your country through supporting every single person in it, and giving every single person a fighting chance at a happy, healthy life.
That’s the country I want to live in, and that’s why I’m voting for Labour tomorrow.