Members of the Irish Women Workers’ Union on the steps of Liberty Hall, c. 1914, National Library of Ireland
I don’t write about politics, although there is political subtext to my writing and, as with all of us, my life. But today I want to write this – and it’s not about Brexit.
I have been a Labour ‘activist’ (in a dilettante sort of way), a campaigner, party member, voter, worked with Labour people and in public services since I was old enough to vote and work. I was ‘tribal Labour’ before that. I decided that while communism was wildly and fantastically exciting to my fifteen year old mind, it is important to be on the winning side – or at least the side that might have a chance of winning. So, thank you for the offers to join those sectlets and vanguard-of-the-elite-type parties, but I stayed with Labour – reasoning that, if I’m going to be used and exploited as cannon-fodder, it might as well be for a major political force. I stayed with Labour and it broke my heart.
But I am still there.
- I am a deeply conservative human being and, if you are middle-aged, brought up to favour the Labour Party, you do end up tribally and possibly self-destructively wedded to the principles of your youth.
- I still vaguely believe in the principles of a communalist ( not communist) society. Some of this derives from growing up in a welfare-statist, socialist-capitalist-post imperalist country. Some of it derives from my faith. Some of it from my, um ‘heritage’. I am, on one of my sunnier days, a little bit Dorothy Day and a bit of a hippy. I’m probably a Distributist. I’m also probably a little bit Tory ( the nice Tory bits, that they nicked off Labour).
- I am a realist, also. I still think that Labour policies and principles offer the best for an ageing, downwardly mobile, somewhat ‘minority-ethnic’ female. I resist the dog-eat-dog mentality of the Right (ironically, I see this mentality most clearly displayed by ‘migrants’ – they have very little choice other than to adopt this way of thinking, it seems). I am sort of hoping that that might be some sort of safety net still in place, however, threadbare when I need some care, a fragment of my pension. I believe in trades unions, no matter how many or grave their failings, because without them, what do workers have? And we are pretty much all workers now, aren’t we?
- I am hopelessly indoctrinated: we are taught to stick up for those weaker and more helpless than ourselves. We are taught that ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’ – both politically and in terms of community and faith. If I can’t, even in a small way, try to challenge the assaults, to give the starkest example, on disabled people – who am I? I am no-one.
I get skittish on Twitter and join in the general mockery of the current Labour leadership. I don’t feel very proud of myself and there is no real excuse. But I oppose the current leadership because it is heartbreaking to see her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition not doing its job. It is heartbreaking to see my party not making itself in the slightest way electable. I believe the leadership is knowingly acting as useful idiots – both for global capitalism and international socialism. But I would rather laugh than cry.
Image rights here.