Spun Out – an occasional series of experiences by a new Labour Party member – who describes himself as “the maverick fringe of respectable politics”
These are Jim’s personal views.
“So here I am, waiting for my time to present my ideas: “Why I should be the Labour Party candidate for the District Council seat in the upcoming By Election.” How on earth did I get here?
I’d always had an interest in politics, at least on a national level, but despite paying attention to manifestos and policy announcements and whatnot I wasn’t engaged…Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats, blue, red, yellow, they had all bled into one, in my own words at the time, “You can barely get a fag paper between the different parties….sure UKIP are different, but I lump them in with single issue parties, great on that one issue, but spend the time on other issues trying to connect those issues back to their main issue.”
Then there was the General Election, the abject inability of UKIP to convert support into real, tangible constituency seats, the destruction of the Liberal Democrats as a Parliamentary force and surprisingly the improbability of the Conservatives failing to scare people away from voting for them…for me the only unsurprising result from the election was the failure of Labour to inspire people to vote for them.
There was the usual fall out from such a contest, Clegg, Farage and Milliband, humiliated and falling on their swords (comically upset by Farage turning around and saying he was joking and was here to stay), and the ensuing leadership contests – which as with much of British politics for decades could be described in the words of The Who “Here comes the new boss, same as the old boss” – so other than seeing how the dust would settle, I wasn’t thinking anything interesting was going to happen.
Then Jeremy Corbyn’s name started being bandied around as someone from the socialist fringe of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) (always with the condescending phrase of “…looking to widen the debate in this leadership contest…” with the hidden subtext “…with three steady, experienced New Labour old hands on the ballot, we have this contest sewn up between us…”) As it was, Jeremy Corbyn had to wait until the last day of nominations, and more than a few sympathy/pity nominations from the PLP to scrape onto the ballot, but once he was on, I would be seeing 3 identikit “Professional Politicians(tm)” and one guy not bothered by tailored suits and the latest grooming trends. That one guy saying all the identikit “Professional Politicians(tm) of every party had failed the country by not regulating big business, not taxing big business, and not punishing big business when it messed up and then expecting the poorest and hardest working to pay more to give more advantage to the rich…finally I could see some difference in politics.
Of course Corbyn totally walked the contest, and I started getting really interested and I found my local Constituency Labour Party and started going to meetings as a CWU (Communication Workers Union) affiliate and although my local branch were very supportive of Corbyn, I am sure if they had supported another candidate the welcome I received would have been no less warmer and the energy and ideas spent on supporting Corbyn and the party no less energetic or enthusiastic, so I slowly started trying to help out, mostly by helping to deliver the local newsletter ( bit of a busman’s holiday with me being a postman ), then in the midst of Labour Party Leadership Election II – New Labour Strikes Back, a local councillor sadly passed away, and I was asked if I would like to put myself forward for selection as the Labour party candidate, “Yeah, okay!”
I have to admit, I did very little preparation in terms of the selection meeting ( I think I only actually spoke about housing, especially the lack of social and affordable housing ( affordable to people on National Living Wages – not the £400,000 demanded for some “affordable” houses in London ) and to be frank, I winged it, so naturally I was pleased and unsurprised not to receive the nomination, but I look forward to experiencing an election campaign from the inside, rather than just schlepping down to the polling station one Thursday evening, and hopefully, I’ll have something worth reporting here.”
By Jim from Hextable
(Jim is now out working hard for the candidate that Labour selected. If you are a new member of the Labour Party, we would welcome hearing why you joined and what motivates you politically.)