Some of you may have noticed that my allegiance (on the about page) has changed, from Green Party to Labour. This is not an abandonment of any ideals, not least my commitments to high taxes, a large state and a greener way of running our lives. Indeed, I will always hold the Green Party in the greatest of respect – particularly Caroline Lucas, who has been a committed fighter for the eco-socialist cause, and works harder than any other MP I know of to represent her (very lucky) constituents. Rather, it is something of an epiphany brought about by the disastrous election result.
Like many across Britain, I awoke on Friday morning hoping for a Labour government, having not actually supported Labour during the campaign. Ideally, we would have seen Ed Miliband’s Labour constrained by a number of smaller, more progressive parties (see my earlier article on a Lab-SNP deal). Ed Balls (sniff) would have had no mandate to carry out his austerity-lite. Alas, it was not to be, with Labour’s vote eaten up from the left and the right, and the Green surge (predictably, under FPTP) failing to materialise.
Yet since the election it has become clear to me that even a majority Labour government would have been a resounding victory for the less well off in this country. Every so often a policy of Labour’s occurs to me that, in my Yougov-induced arrogance, I had assumed would become law. We will now not see a reform of the House of Lord’s. The voting age will not be reduced. Rent won’t be controlled, zero hours contracts won’t be banned, etc., etc. Miliband’s program represented a modest shift away from the post-1995ish political consensus that the market must be allowed to dictate government policy. As such, it ought to be celebrated that he got anywhere near 232, in spite of the fact that CCHQ and the (sigh, yes, I am going to say it) Tory press had him down as Red Ed since 2010.
I have since concluded, therefore, that change of the kind I desire comes incrementally and from the inside. Whilst a protest vote such as the Green Party is always attractive, under FPTP it is just that, and remember – if you want a Labour government, we know now you must vote for it. I have joined Labour in order to help keep them centre-left in this next leadership election, and I hope others will do the same. It was only whilst watching Miliband’s resignation that I fully realised what a great, honest PM this country missed out on. Ironically for a man who struggled so much to ‘connect’ with the public, his final speech was everything he had been striving for – impassioned, emotive, and idealistic in the best possible sense.