…..and more importantly, stand up for what you believe in.
This post has been prompted by a whole host of different conversations (on Twitter and in the flesh) over the past few days that include people telling me that Gordon Brown “hates people” and me being called a fool for declaring my intention to vote Labour tomorrow. And quite frankly, I’m sick of it. Sick of being told that standing up for what I believe in is foolish, sick of people regurgitating half-truths from the media, and sick of those same people not having the decency to argue their corner in a reasonable fashion when challenged. I started this election campaign as someone who had re-joined Labour (after a 15 year battle with myself about why I left in the first place) and who wanted to make sure his local MP kept his seat. I’ve been out delivering leaflets and said some nice words about Sadiq Khan, which led to the slightly strange situation of me delivering leaflets with my own mug on them, and as time has gone on I’ve been drawn more and more into what this election is all about. I can’t claim to have had any sort of epiphany on the streets of Tooting, but I think I’ve finally come to terms with my internal debate about what my support of Labour really means. It means that rather than stand on the outside whingeing about how shit everything is (I can’t quite bring myself to even mention the whole Broken Britain thing), I’m now more than prepared to stand up and be counted. Stand up for my local MP against a Tory candidate that seems to be straight out of the Cameron School of PR Robots. Stand up against people who ask me to name “one good thing Labour have done”, and then scuttle back under their rock when I mention minimum wage, reduction in waiting lists and investment in schools. Stand up for my local, wonderful community in Tooting. What struck me more than anything else when I had my close encounter with Gordon Brown on Sunday, was what a diverse group of people where there to see him. Not all hand-picked Labour members, but members of all parts of the community, of all faiths. That’s what a Labour MP, and Sadiq Khan in particular, will do – bring people together. All I’ve ever seen Tories do is divide people, rich & poor, union & business, and I don’t want this country to slide back towards those attitudes.
Does this mean I think Labour are perfect? Of course it doesn’t, they’ve made mistakes, and some of them have been bad mistakes. But when I look at most of the big issues that people complain about Labour, I can’t help asking myself, what would Dave have done? Iraq? Credit crisis? Both would have had the same outcome under Dave, he certainly wasn’t against the war was he? And while Labour certainly got too close to the banks for my liking, you can’t tell me that at the same time Dave wouldn’t have been equally cosy with them? No government I remember has “saved for a rainy day” and Dave and the Tories wouldn’t have either. Pretty much everything they’ve said about the economic crisis has been with the benefit of hindsight. And as for all the scaremongering about having to go cap in hand to the IMF if their’s a hung parliament? Well sorry, but that just sounds desperate “you must vote for us because…….” because what, because you think we should? And that’s pretty much where we’ve got to isn’t it? The Tories seem to believe that their time has come again and that they “deserve” to get back in. Well they don’t “deserve” anything. If the central part of your campaign is “look at them, aren’t they crap” and “look at Britain, isn’t it shit?”, then it seems to me that you don’t deserve anything. And despite the alleged pile of cack that is apparently covering this country, they seem to failing to really convince the public that they are a viable alternative. That’s because you have to earn the right to govern, not have it fall into your lap. Surely, with the all new cuddly Conservatives, and an open goal in front of them, this election should be in no doubt at all? Perhaps showing a bit of passion, as Gordon Brown certainly did on Monday, would help us all, I certainly haven’t heard any passion come from the Conservatives. It’s all been a bit wooden really, almost a little bit too well rehearsed perhaps? But the election result is still in doubt, and I for one will be doing my bit tomorrow to make sure Britain & my patch of South London stays a fair and tolerant place. What are you going to do? Shrug your shoulders and whinge? Well shame on you then.