Unfortunately I’m probably leaving the Labour Party. It might seem odd, given that Labour have recovered massively to now be level-pegging with the ruling Conservatives, but I don’t think this is good enough to gain power, nor good enough in terms of policy.
Here is a fairly heavily edited version of my resignation explaining my decision, in response to their nice email asking why:
Dear [membership people],
Thank you for the email. I’m leaving for a few reasons – I stress that I don’t think Labour are “in dire straits ….. YET”, nor do I think they picked the wrong leader at all. My reasons below relate to my (in many cases professional) knowledge of the electorate and how I don’t feel Labour is catering to the correct groups in order to gain power. I can’t give money when I don’t feel the party really engages with or stands up for “people like me”.
1. What about Generation X? Due to the arrival of covid-19 I only attended one meeting in person – the one around xmas time. Frankly it was a little depressing that of the three “electoral groupings” that are of relevance to gaining power (older voters, gen X – people like me, and young’uns – millennials etc) I saw plenty of the first and third but wasn’t sure I saw another Xer like me at all.
https://www.cambridge.org/gb/academic/subjects/economics/econometrics-statistics-and-mathematical-economics/best-worst-scaling-theory-methods-and-applications is my “professional case” for talking about voting groups like this. I ran a survey just before the 2017 general election. I KNEW May would lose her majority. Nobody was interested. So I just went to the bookie and bet on it and made money. I KNOW what needs to be done to regain the red wall etc. I’m gay and out. But the noisy rubbish the young’uns go on about in terms of arguing about groupings/language etc just seems like the early 1980s fights over “who is really proper left-wing” all over again. I and my contemporaries are NOT interested in all that social media fighting. Those morons don’t bother to turn out to vote anyway. (Yeah I dislike Millennials. But I taught them so I am not uninformed about them.) We Xers want issues like the economy addressed since we’ve been cheated. Without us you won’t rebuild that wall.
2. Triumphalism and a belief that Labour are now close to power. Whilst I did put Keir as first preference, I felt a little bit put off by attitudes among Labour senior members that he was “the cure to a cancer”. Corbyn was (in my view) demonstrably the wrong leader…..but his policies were all popular and now is NOT the time to “tack centre-wards” and give the impression Labour is now Blair 2.0. I LOATHE Blairism and so do most Xers – it screwed us and we now all see our mistakes in supporting it 20 years ago. If Labour stands for that then you’ve not only lost my membership, but you’ll lose my vote.
3. Electoral reform. Again, my book is the reference here. Stand for reform. To another system. Frankly ANY system apart from FPTP. You’re probably only going to get one more chance at this (I think Labour will win in England and Wales only one more time). You’ve lost Scotland – the SNP is pretty close to old Labour. You could be losing Wales. Last chance saloon time.
My overall feeling is that local officials give the impressions that “the adults are back in charge – with adults meaning Blairites”. Ugh. Also, for a QC, Keir disappointed me in his response to Covid-19. He should have been ready to argue for lockdown 2.0 two months ago. The studies are out there (my PhD was in medical stats so I know what to read). Even asymptomatic people with it could be getting permanent heart damage. Keir really was too collegiate with Boris and missed a trick there. It worries me. I think he needs some better advisors who read epidemiology more widely. Yes he’s miles ahead of Boris. But that’s not enough if 15% of covid infectees get heart failure in 15 years. Take the gloves off.
I hope this doesn’t sound rude. As a former academic I often “default” to critical mode as when refereeing etc! I do wish to also emphasise that local Labour has people who work exceptionally hard and are very dedicated and made my decision difficult – my local councillor xxxxxx would be top of that list – he actively helped my Dad’s company when we tried to get our PPE registered during the early stages of covid-19 after we retooled production. But there are many others.
To clarify one point: I do understand (having encountered it) puzzlement from people as to why I and other gen Xers don’t value what Blair did. Permit me to give one example literally from today to illustrate why his continuation and expansion of PPPs and other schemes in line with his explicitly anti-clause 4 agenda was deeply wrong. I know someone working in admin at the City hospital. That person was today told to do cleaning of disgusting covid-ridden wards so a “surprise” inspection would give the Trust a pass (and then was explicitly denied a covid test). I can only assume the contracted cleaners don’t keep the wards clean enough and no emergency contract was possible to get them to sort out the mess they left. Various admin staff (who should NOT be anywhere near covid) up to senior management were on hands and knees doing this. It was DISGRACEFUL.
If anyone needs a concrete example as to why I won’t vote for parties that endorse contracting out, this is one. My MSc dissertation was a proof of why they’re not only wrong but economically inefficient. The “Third Way” is a mirage. Today I truly felt my stomach drop after hearing what is going on at the Nottingham City hospital.
Kind regards and thank you for reaching out to me and for the work you’ve all done recently.
Terry N Flynn PhD