I have been a member of the Labour Party for over 20 years, although I did let my membership lapse for a year in 2012. I rejoined the party in the run up to the 2015 General Election, became heavily involved in the campaign and have remained heavily involved since.
I now feel more motivated than ever to be a strong supporter of the Labour movement. This is a very simple and brief overview and now I will attempt to explain why these things happened and the nature of my current involvement.
I was born in 1952 and first became aware of politics when I was about 10, during the MacMillan government days, later to be described by Harold Wilson as thirteen years of Tory misrule. My father was a committed Labour voter. My mum voted Tory, although I suspect this was more due to a reaction to my father’s political ranting than any ideological beliefs. Consequently I decided to ‘tread the middle ground’ or ‘sit on the fence’ and favoured the Liberal party under Jo Grimmond’s leadership. This seemed a nice comfortable place to be in my early teens. However, the appearance of the aforementioned Harold Wilson as Labour Leader and then Prime Minister caused me to favour the Labour Party.
Harold Wilson impressed me greatly and I believe that he has been the best Prime Minister of my lifetime. He and his Government pursued social reforms in education, health, housing, gender equality, price controls, pensions, provisions for disabled people and child poverty. Socialism was not a dirty word then.
Thus I have voted Labour in every election since I reached voting age.
Over the years up to 2012 my enthusiasm for the Labour Party waxed and waned with the fortunes of the party and my personal feelings towards the leadership team. In early 2012 I felt somewhat disillusioned with the party and politics in general. ‘Socialism’ had become a dirty word yet I considered myself primarily a socialist. Therefore I did not renew my membership
So why did I rejoin the party in 2014 and why have I become an enthusiastic activist since, something that did not diminish following the 2015 election defeat?
The answer lies with the people I have met and worked with locally when campaigning and canvassing. It has occurred to me that primarily we share values such as compassion, fairness, belief in publicly funded public services, distrust of capitalism and the short term money making behaviours that it encourages. These shared values lead us to become active members of the Labour Party, which is the only party that shares these values.
I was initially concerned by the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader as he might appear to the public as being just too Left Wing. However, this highlighted just how much the Labour Party had drifted to the right, possibly slightly right of Ted Heath’s Tory government. I now support the move to the left that the appointment of Jeremy has encouraged. It has helped to rebalance the political landscape and therefore I plan to be campaigning with enthusiasm through to 2020 and beyond.