I’ve done it: after a couple of years with no fixed political membership (or, maybe, being affiliated for the first time – was I ever really a member of the other one? Lack of documentation makes me wonder whether my comrades pocketed the membership fee whilst I flittered on none-the-wiser.) I am now a paid-up member of the Labour Party.
I am a little surprised at myself really. I’ve always had a bit of a leaning towards Labour from my younger years, when I blithely assumed Labour meant Left and that was the way it was always going to be. Then, as we trooped further into the Blair years, that changed. New Labour felt corporate and earnest in the wrong way. It probably didn’t help that I was, at this point, introduced to some of Oxford’s finest (read: scary) Labour hacks which turned me off further. I grew increasingly apathetic, which is sad given how enthusiastic about UK politics I used to be.
Unlike many critics, I won’t blame this all on Blair – I may have been dissatisfied with the style of government that emerged under him, but I refuse to swallow all of that crap about the country getting worse under Labour – clearly, we are much better off than we used to be. Hence all of the whining – we can *afford* to whine now. Listening to people (including my own parents) whinge makes me want to bash my head against the wall. Certainly, things aren’t perfect but come on – under Thatcher my dad was unemployed – now they have a large, 4 bedroom house with a paid off mortgage and two new cars. Do not expect me to sympathise.
Now that Brown is in charge, things feel different again. They haven’t gone back to the Labour I thought I supported when I was younger (although I’m prepared to admit that that Labour probably didn’t exist at all, at least not in the form I’d imagined) but there is a sense of progress and competence. And, more importantly from my perspective, the sense that there is quite a lot of thought going in to making decisions. I’m all for sensible government; let’s have more of it. Hopefully, I won’t have Brown on a pedestal like many did with Blair in the early years. Still, I’m quietly optimistic.