This evening, Sunny Hundal, a staunch Labour supporter ever since he voted LibDem in 2010, tweeted a picture of me campaigning for London’s independent candidate Siobhan Benita. I can’t complain; it’s true. For the first time in my life – in 21 years of Labour membership – I am campaigning for a candidate who isn’t Labour.
It makes it easier that I can still give Ken my second preference – but still, after setting up this website so long ago – I hope this explains my lack of enthusiasm in the last couple of years.
I have written a couple of things recently that might put this in perspective. This, on what will happen to the Labour Party if state funded and this piece on where the party – and Ed in particular – are going wrong.
Trying to put this a briefly as possible, I don’t subscribe to the idea that party politics is intrinsically flawed and direct democracy is the answer. quite the opposite, I think representative democracy is so important that it needs defending as a priority – but I am tired of the damage being done to the principle of representative democracy by political parties.
A Party is shorthand to a candidate’s values. People used to vote Labour knowing that, whatever the policies and whoever the candidate was, they represented a distinct set of values. These days it’s just a brand and the values have become vague and universal. Motherhood and apple pie values rather than something challenging.
I did want to change the party from within in the past but now – halfway through my likely lifespan – I figure that’s not going to happen. I haven’t had any impact in the last 21 years so there’s no reason to expect to have impact in the next. If anything, we’re in a worse state than when I joined. Put it this way, I’m all for egalitarianism but that doesn’t mean we should put the work experience kid in charge of the party – which is effectively what Labour has done.
And while I don’t believe even Ed knows what he stands for, I do respect Ken’s values. But the ego show between him and Boris just turns me off. They have both been Mayor and in neither case did the world end. The constant “Stop Ken” and “Sack Boris” rhetoric doesn’t speak to the difficulties faced by regular people, or indeed their aspirations and when Ken suggested the riots wouldn’t have happened under his watch, I just thought he was drunk or something..
I’m just a bit embarrassed that Boris and Ken are the best that representative democracy has to offer in this election.
So I have looked into the candidates and for the first time in my life, tried to figure out who would be best. And in this instance I found that Siobhan Benita’s significantly better than the rest.
I wish you could meet her. She’s charming, charismatic, intelligent and passionate and she clearly believes what she says. So I have decided to back her and have done some volunteering. And more so even than when I was a candidate, I feel like I’m campaigning for the best candidate by choice, rather than by luck.