Politics in the UK is in tatters.
Everyone- from the people I hear discuss it in the streets, to Lord Heseltine on TalkTV, can see that. It’s hardly a controversy to point this out, the intellectual equivalent of leaving an apple on your desk for weeks, watching its skin dry, pucker, rot- then, one day, for no particular reason suddenly jumping up & exclaiming “my goodness, this apple is mouldy!” It’s played out in full view. Amongst many problems including the deep and intrinsic winding of the far right around key positions like Home Secretary, that rot has pushed people who used to be more radical in their leftism- when it was easy, in full swing in the political sphere- into centricism.
When you number amongst the dreaded far left who are demonised across the board, what is one to do when the leader of the Labour Party says “like it or lump it”.
Firstly let’s start with a disclaimer. Yes there are idiots amongst the far left. There are also total muppets amongst the center left, dicks aplenty amongst centrists, wankers galore amongst the centre right- and I dont think we need to go into the far right do we. No, I don’t condone the actions of twitter incels who call themselves far left but act like misogynistic weirdos, who spam people’s comment sections, who slurp at the shaft of weird totalitarian figures of communist atrocities past and present. It’s weird behaviour that I don’t understand and I don’t associate with my politics. If you want to think that because I call myself far left I’m lumped in with them I will not lose one iota of sleep over it.
The article Starmer wrote in the Times is misrepresented in several places- but it’s hard to know that considering it’s insultingly behind a paywall. It’s all well and good saying “if you dislike how I run my party you can leave” then monetising that behind a screen that stops you reading it, hardly a brave callout to clear off if you have to pay the Times of all people for the pleasure.
The times journos and pundits sell it as a kiss off in its entirety to the far left. It’s not that, the article itself is a celebration in strides made against antisemitism in the Labour Party. Whilst I’m happy to hear moves have been made to deal with antisemitism, which is disgusting and must be rooted out in the most aggressive terms, I can’t speak to that- I’m not jewish, nor am I a member of any political party and I prefer to take my notes about how to respond to antisemitism from Jewish people.
The only way to find out if antisemitism has improved in labour is to listen to jewish voices. Some are happy, some are not and that’s entirely their verdict to make.
What I found consternating on a personal level is the self congratulatory tone of a job well done in making strides forward, and yet the complete ignorance of other burgeoning equality issues in the party- and terming yourself the party of equality rankles me deeply.
Firstly, to be a true party of equality you may consider writing for a newspaper other than The Times who, upon the murder of trans teen Brianna Ghey on the weekend, went to pains to deadname Brianna, deny that her murder was linked to her status as a trans individual and who has also played an integral part in the anti-trans culture war- which an ex advisor of the Conservatives has resigned over, claiming that Sunak will fight the next election over culture war nonsense.
I’m not a stupid man. I know that Rosie Duffield is untouchable. If Starmer did give her the boot, the newspapers would practically gum up with front page stories: “SILENCED AND CANCELLED DUFFIELD- KICKED OUT FOR KNOWING WHAT A WOMAN IS”. She’s untouchable because any move to step her down would ratify her deranged movement in their eternally misplaced idea that they are the victims of their perpetual hate movement against trans people.
Nobody who is sane, least of all trans people, deny that women’s lives are awful- especially with the rise and rise of pindick incels like Andrew Tate, though it goes back further than that. Focusing all your anti misogyny energy on excluding trans people instead of men who quite literally want to subjugate women as sex slaves is something I’ll never understand and yet it seems to be the way of things- and lets be honest, who am I to tell women how to deal with misogyny. I just find it weird that the people saying “we’re literally women lets fight misogyny together” are often described as the biggest threat to women over the radicalisation of a huge swath of young men, the rise of date rape culture which has worsened dramatically in the last 4 years and the all but abolishment of rape punishment under a government who refused to make misogyny a hate crime. It’s entirely possible to stand up for women regardless of their gender. How about we do that- because I don’t see that as radical in any way, I see it as the bare fucking minimum.
That’s enough of a dividing line for me. My support of trans people and women in particular is a hard-line and I’m quite literally happy to end friendships and change my political alignment over it. But if that’s not enough for me to be constantly chewing my nails over labour, how about more?
Brexit. Fucking brexit.
Secret upper crust nonpartisan meetings of political leaders discussing how much brexit has decimated our lives.
Do you know how offensive that is- that British politicians retire for a couple of days to chat over just how much of a fuckup our lives are, all whilst turning their collective back to the public eye between reciting “get brexit done, unleash Brexit’s successes, turn on the brexit bonuses levelling up vaccine rollout siren”. It’s so insulting.
Am I saying this little tete a tete shouldn’t have happened? No, I’m saying we should be INVOLVED. If the UK government knows brexit is a failure and they’re happy to discuss that amongst themselves, just remind me who endowed them with the power to do it? The people they’re currently ignoring in favour of chatting to each bloody other!
Even the Times, again, a paper so steeped in the mythology of Brittania being unfettered by leaving the EU has reneged and called Brexit’s time of death. So for British political parties to completely cut out the PEOPLE in this discussion is an egregious betrayal.
Did Starmer know about this summit? Did Lammy get his say- so to attend? And why, why were the British people, especially those of us whose voices are hoarse from shouting about the brexit failures, completely circumvented in consultation? Starmer’s labour continues to promise that upon election they’ll make brexit work- by taking advantage of it, but not by reunifying in any way. This line of edict is just as undemocratic as the Tories tearing us out after harrying us into a yes or no then ignoring any indication of what had come before.
The very leavers who promised we’d stay in the single market and customs union now tell us it’s good we left them too, as the British economy writhes on the floor turning a disturbing shade of purple.
I feel like I’m being gaslit and not just by the ineffable liars in power- but by those I’m supposed to cheerfully vote to replace them. And when I raise that concern, when I say “ah, I dont know how much I like this”, I’m immediately shouted down- Starmer has a plan, Starmer has an ace up his sleeve. I can only go off the words he says- brexit was voted through by people who wanted to vote for a dream and now I’m being told to vote for a dream to undo it! That way lies folly. I just want to vote for reality- is that wrong?
Brexit is an issue we’ve been fighting on for a long time due to its intangibility right? Okay, how about the other culture war bollocks heaped on us by the shovelful every day: Immi-fucking-gration.
“There’s not much between labour and conservatives on immigration”.
Do you know which far left operative said that provocative, dangerous line?
Keir Starmer. On LBC. If that’s the truth, if we have another iteration of labour who are willing to -as Angela Rayner said on TV recently- tag asylum seekers for the crime of COMING HERE TO SEEK ASYLUM then I don’t know, I feel pretty good about not being okay with that. Treating every immigrant and refugee like a criminal when we don’t give them legal recompense to come or assign enough people to help their paperwork process in decent time is not “hard headed common sense” as Sunak calls it, it’s barbaric, a failure ridden system that needs abolishment and replacement with something that does work, is humane, that considers the world that we’re in and that is still suffering from the reverberations of the British empire and our ridiculous colonialist aspirations- people are being displaced from countries WE started wars in then we have the cheek to get mad when they turn up on our shore!
I sit in myriad group chats now on twitter, on WhatsApp, on instagram and I listen to people disparage me, my politics, people like me and my rage continues to grow. Ah yes, I’m the problem, silly little airhead me thinking that we might be able to forge a way forward that pleases reasonable people, that we don’t have to continually appeal to centricism – and I hasten to add that whilst I don’t personally dislike centrists because they are centrists, I eschew the idea that moderation is important when so many bulwarks of society, politics and culture are haemorrhaging simultaneously- we need radical reform and it may mean uncomfortable changes and far reaching reform- but for those who suffer under the status quo, I’m willing to bear discomfort as they have for so long: And anyway how much more discomfort do you need than skyrocketing bills and mortgages, stagnated wages, debilitating viral spread, people forced to strike and disrupt national services, an NHS in its agonal breaths and political lying utterly normalised?
Now I need to clarify, yes I understand that in this ridiculous broken system in the UK, we DO have to appeal to a broad range of voters. But if that means appealing to the xenophobes, the anti trans, the “acceptable” culture war nonsense then I am also allowed to lodge a very-big-bloody-problem with it.
To my friends who continually slate the hard left- hi, I’m the hard left. Am I a bad person? Do I seem mean? Do my politics terrify you? Or am I similar to you in a lot of ways but no longer knee jerk react to every person who lodges a complaint with labour’s slide away from radical reform with “OH WELL SEE HOW YOU LIKE THE TORIES THEN”. This tired narrative of “get on board and make changes later” never works- because you somehow never actually make the changes. So many people who claim deep rooted interest in politics want things to change- unless they are affected. I can see it now- “He’s only just been elected, he needs time, that would upset people, oh he’s trying, he can’t rock the boat” or, my favourite one: “it’s not the time”. When is the time to fight for our beliefs and aspirations.
It’s a tale as old as time and the people you’re so angry at, AKA the far left, AKA me, are people who have been asking for change for as long as you have and go from being utterly ignored to ridiculed to being told we have no choice but to vote for those who will not enact our will- the difference I see between myself and you is that I haven’t abandoned my more radical views, even if I’ve delayed them to match the crawl of UK political progression. Yes, you will win the next election- and keeping stuff exactly the same is the grossest betrayal of everyone suffering under the mire right now that I can imagine.
Do I think a labour government would do better for many people than the tories? Yes- but that’s not a glowing endorsement of labour and their actions. I have a Donald Trump toilet brush I trust to do a better job than the tories. They are parodies of politics, besuited shills set on benches in parliament to say empty lines about the jobs they’re getting on with and how levelled up we all are, whilst their back pockets positively strain to hold illicit cash. Preferring labour to that isn’t a ringing endorsement- it’s the least one can do.
Do I think some of the moves labour are offering to make are good? Yes, of course. I know things will be better in many ways under labour, but being better than disaster isn’t a ringing endorsement. I have to ask, how many sacrifices of things we dearly want and need are people like me going to be asked to make? How far will you go to demonise us and our aspirations rather than facing the literal hard right who are in power now?
I see so much garbage about the hard left from people who spend their time on twitter. Apparently its anathema to insult capitalism… How’s that capitalism workin’ out for ya though? Yes there are horrible examples of socialism throughout history, terrible crimes committed by those who espouse communism and absolute fools willing to enact authoritarian communist state politics. I also read a story the other day about an American man who now can’t bend his leg at any joint from hip to ankle because it was crushed at work and he’s too poor to have it fixed, or about an American housewife who died because she couldn’t afford to have the chemo needed to treat her cancer so it just grew inside her. Look at the state of the UK- as people turn their literal power off in their houses because they can’t afford their bills you decry those who lodge their issues with living in heavy capitalism?
You want to talk moderation? How about moderating between positive socialist ideals and positive capitalist ideals and finding your moderation there.
I don’t care about Corbyn very much. I know that’ll upset other people who have agreed up to this point. Yes he was monstered in the press, yes I wanted him as PM, some of his actions frustrated me then and they frustrate me now. I don’t think he’s the devil he’s been painted out to be but I don’t think he’s the only hope for leftist discourse and unity in the UK. In fact, I actively refuse to pin my hopes and aspirations on just one person, just one politician because my leftist politics hangs between the hands of every person who believes in it. We are the change, not anyone who sits in parliament.
I’d hope he’d agree with that along with anyone who believes in leftist reform. I believe we need broad, brave change across the UK. I believe we need to confront problems both archaic and new. We need to reform education, resuscitate our public health system and not look to privatisation as a fix considering we’ve seen how that works for energy, water and the public travel systems- we need to confront the sinuous twisting of the far right amongst our highest offices & to dispel the hate of LGBT+ individuals and migrants, we need to build in a societal buffer for women to ensure that men who practice vile misogyny face the harshest stricture.
I believe we can do it. But that involves change- not maintenance. The system is not fit for purpose. I am willing to watch it be chipped at, provided help is given to those suffering under it now purely because I do not believe blowing it up will be any more helpful than holding it in place as it crumbles.
If you ask for me to vote to keep things the same, you’re asking for me to vote for the mire into which we sink- is that what you want? Because It’s not what I want.
I am tired of trying to appease people who do nothing but disparage my politics. Tried of hearing “if the far left don’t like it they can leave”. Fine! This must be the epitome of the abusive political relationship where I’m told to leave my ideas at the door then I can come in and have the obvious stuff everyone wants but nothing else, the bare minimum stuff it shouldn’t even be a thought to ask for.
“But you’re tory enabling if you don’t vote labour”- a huge indictment of our voting system; but how far is labour allowed to stray from my ideals before it’s not my reluctance to vote for them with enthusiasm that’s the issue? I don’t like it, I’m told to leave, but then I’m told leaving is tory enabling so a genuine question: What do you want from me?! You keep asking me to go if I don’t like it then telling me that going makes things worse. Exactly what choices are you offering? Now we’re told “if you don’t like my vision, leave”. And go where? Vote for another party who will never see power? I’m stuck- it’s not for me to change my politics, it’s for you to represent them!
To those who read this and react with rage, I want you to understand that your knee jerk reaction to anyone questioning labour comes from fear of the tories winning and I understand it, but if labour win, and if labour maintain this horrendous status quo in ways that benefit you but not the oppressed who have lodged complaints- do you want change that helps everyone, or do you just want to win and make sure that you’re ok, at the expense of the rest.
It is also not radical to point out the failure of capitalism. Look at how our bills and rent and goods continue to escalate. It is hardly a shocking standpoint to rationally ask if this system that ties us to debt works- does that mean socialism is the answer? No. But it means discussion of alternatives that do work should not be anathema.
I am tired of pretending to be more moderate than I am. My politics make sense to me even if they aren’t perfect, even if they are “airy fairy”. I do not want labour to lose, I am not trying to work against them- rather I am trying to force a confrontation between the front bench and reality. Voters do not want to hear the same tory line about brexit and minorities do not want to see how truly disposable we are in the face of voter shares and polling. And those desperate people who flee the war zones our meddling creates do not deserve to be demonised by every party. Unfortunately these stances alone seem to be radical. A shame and an indictment on the British political status quo, and calling that out is not meant to be a defection against labour. It’s a cry to the wider voting public to ask why we accept these as the terms of engagement for voting- because to me they are all adding up to be a bridge too far. I don’t want to not vote for labour, I don’t want to vote for them through gritted teeth. I want to stand behind the party proudly and vote for better- I want them to win my vote, not take it through lack of options. That is not radical.
In his article, Kier Starmer clearly states “we are not going back”. Good, I don’t want you to. But I do want you to move forward. This is not about going back to the halcyon days of the Corbyn manifesto, it’s about moving through the socio-political quagmire into better days.
We need PR, we need broad reform to politics and we need political leaders who stand for bold progress- not establishment. If it’s a crime to think that, lock me up.