Why I’m voting labour pt 1

April 6, 2010

So we’re off. It’s started. No more decent tv for ages now, except for Doctor Who. BBC News 24 finally has something to report. In the unlikely event the result of the election its not enough, theres Alex Salmond.

Ho ho.

I think I’ve made my mind up – I mean to vote Labour. Don’t ask me if I voted for them last time. Probably should have been, might have actually been a member at the time. But I really don’t recall. Something about Iraq I think.

Anyway, there’s lots of reasons I’m voting Labour. Truth. If I can be bothered I’ll try and deal with one per post, both a reason why, and a kind of apologetics about a common objection to labour.

This week I’ve been having trouble sleeping and listening to extracts on bbc parliament. Note not at the same time. The liberal democrats, or the tories (which is which?) were saying the gap between rich and poor has gotten bigger during labour’s terms in office. This has really stayed with me since I just got back from america.

I was staying in downtown LA. Both times I’ve been to the US I’ve stayed in rough areas in inner cities, the first in Camden New Jersey. Homelessness was ubiquitous. The amount of homeless people suffering from frightening mental illnesses, eating from bins, living under bridges,  it scars your conscience. I think there are many great things about the US that we need to emulate here, like their passion for sport which could help solve so many social problems here, but when I see teachers who must work over summer as waiters to pay their rent and when people are terrified of getting sick, when people are not simply homeless because of an addiction, I think we have something here worth celebrating.

We aren’t perfect, and I don’t say we’re the best in the world. But the US, the mightiest country on earth, cannot touch UK social welfare with a barge poll. Try telling people struggling to make ends meet in America its time we changed the government here.

I don’t honestly care if rich people get richer. I do support raising the minimum wage, I am so glad we’ve got one under labour. That and paternity leave, maternity pay, new deal (not perfect…), nursery places, so many things. You could double the minimum wage and still relative poverty could increase  – because I dont think relative poverty is the best measure here.

People have basic human rights, which is a part of how we should measure it, with more attention to absolute poverty than relative poverty. And we need to help people who are struggling especially now, theres so many. They might not be perfect, but I think labours done a lot in our time to change the UK for the better.

I mean don’t get me wrong. I’m sure Gordon Brown has a list of problems. I could give you a list. I even voted for him in the leadership election, as I thought the competition was uh oh…yeah. But at least he knows how to do a good U-turn, and although he may do maddening things sometimes, its better you sometimes get it right than just don’t know what you’re doing at all.

Seems he never gets any credit, this Gordon Brown. When he does something capitalist, folks say New Labours sold out. When he does something socialist like buy a bank or take over a rail line, no praise from the left.

As I said I was in california –  and didnt get a tan. I didn’t get a sunburn. I would have settled for, you know, if not a beautiful brown, at least bright red. There’s a profound political comment in there somewhere.

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