I have not written about politics in any length for quite a while. Jobs, and increasing scarce leisure time have put paid to my love of writing about current affairs and political thought, usually being content now to share on my social media feeds articles and digs about figures or groups I deplore. I have a well-earned reputation for negativity and denunciation, and where once this would be accompanied by more of my own insights and views, said absence of time has resulted in a lack of will or energy to engage in writing in any depth.
So then, for someone who imposes political posts on others with annoying regularity, what is it exactly that I believe?
I am probably best described as a social democrat without a home. I have recently left the Labour party in disgust at what I regard as an inept leadership, and a hostile takeover by Bennite fantasists who prize membership led policies above pragmatism and compromise. For me this will ultimately be politically suicidal for the party. Inevitably the membership of any party will be more animated and idealistic about issues in a wat that the mainstay of the voting public will not necessarily be. A Labour voters general concern for increasing costs of living would not potentially be in line with a party member who wants significant tax rises. In much the same way as a Brexit voting Conservative supporter may not dwell on the issue as much as a John Redwood or Liam Fox.
As a party becomes more detached from the realities of its base, proposing more abstract policies from an enthusiastic membership disconnected to the core vote, the more moderate, floating voter will potentially look elsewhere, tribalism be damned.
Am I then one of the detested ‘Blairites’, that increasingly meaningless term for anyone to the right of Jeremy Corbyn? Not anymore, and not for a while. Last year I wrote of how I went from being a New Labour apologist to its critical friend. I am an admirer of Mr Blair, and think however poorly handled the decision to bring Iraq into a post Saddam era was moral and necessary, but the bungling and misinformation will forever be a stain on the administration. This a pity for a government who intervened morally and successfully in the Balkans and Sierra Leone.
I think the New Labour era, for all its achievements in the redistributing of wealth, alleviating child poverty, record investment in public services, was in hindsight too timid, too complacent with the wealth of the city, and too keen on top-down dictates, increasing the power of the executive. I am quite critical of the parental state socialism which Corbyn and his acolytes advocate, and although I would not claim New Labour to be a socialist government, it remained very centralised, very self-assured, and thought that throwing money at all projects would always result in better provision of public services, with scant heed paid to the locality. This inevitably led to the death knell for the administration come the financial crash and recession, with the Conservative front bench, previously committed to matching New Labours spending targets, freed to propose and then implement cuts to public services that have been too far and too fast.
As you can see, I have a mixed relationship with New Labour, and for all of my reservations I believe finding a third way between state socialism and unbridled capitalism to be the only moral way forward. Should then I move over to the Lib Dems permanently, a party that I leant my vote to in 2017? No. I am not massively in line with the current so-called liberalism that seems very illiberal in policing thought and private consciences, and seeks to redefine what is right and wrong. I am a freedom of speech absolutist, and the dogmatic liberalism that has also seeped into many parts of the Labour Party, as well as superficially into the Conservative modernisers. Two cases in point: Firstly, I believe that someone who identifies as the opposite gender should be treated with dignity and kindness, but that is no more or no less important as an individual’s right to say objectively speaking, the gender you are born as is the same gender that you die as. Secondly, as someone who at a push identifies as ‘gay’ (oh how I hate the word), I believe people who have a personal objection to this should not be demonised and hounded, as was the case last year with Tim Farron. There is a clear difference between disapproval and persecution.
The only political group that I feel any affinity to at the moment is the ‘Blue Labour’ movement, promoting a small-c conservative, ethical socialism vision. I have reservations about Blue Labour, at times too rooted in the past, and also overly romantic about notions of family and a national community. Despite such qualms, it has a lot to say that chimes with my worldview, namely a more federalised UK where there is more emphasis on the common good, with local communities more empowered to control their services and individuals their outcomes, not being told by the national media or Whitehall what is best for them, nor this more and more alarming cult of youth where it seems only young people’s views on Europe and more broader social matters are somehow more valid than older people who may well have a vast reservoir of experiences that have shaped their own politics.
To summarise after a potted and tangential essay, I am a small-c conservative social democrat, a freedom of speech absolutist who wants to see a more community led, bottom up politics that transcends who is in control at Westminster. I want to see politics that is relevant to people’s lives, also a return to a criminal justice system in which one is presumed innocent until proven guilty, with a sentence structure that ensures the violent and deadliest criminals stay in prison substantially longer, if not for life in the case of murder. Above all I want to see the end of simplistic, utopian decisions, no more ‘public good, private bad’, and vice versa, or clinging onto certain taxation figure as though high tax is good for its own sake, rather than something that should be subject to constant revision to meet both the needs of public expenditure as well as ensuring that taxpayers and businesses are not so heavily taxed that they cannot make ends meet or have sufficient money to pump back into the economy.