So a General Election is happening on June 8th. Normally it would be an easy decision for me. With the exception of 2010 when “I Agreed With Nick” I always vote Labour. Seven years into a Conservative Government my decision to vote Labour should be the easiest it has ever been but it is in fact the hardest one. This blog post is me saying why I find it difficult this time it is not about me saying who you should vote for. I no doubt expect some readers to disagree which is fine but please take the time to read.
So I am a 36-year-old man who has always lived in the North East. Growing up in the 80s I saw the damage to the region under the Conservative Party and that is still there today. Politics have been big in my growing up. Dad was a member of the Labour Party and campaigned in elections for the party. He then stood as a local Labour Councillor and won the seat at a time when most believed it couldn’t be won from Conservatives. But with hard work along with his two other candidates they did it. I had an interest in politics then and helped with canvassing and campaigning along with other candidates family members which included Jenny Chapman current MP.
Whether it was a local, General or European election I would be helping deliver leaflets and knocking on doors for Labour. Our house was often a campaign point for that part of town so Election Day was often crazy and had MPs or Euro MPs and local councillors around. It allowed me to talk to them and learn more about politics and have debates with theme on issues even (Stephen Hughes still waiting for you to finish that debate about the Euro although I think time has proved me right since then). I digress. What I am saying is that Labour has always appealed and resonated with my beliefs and been a big part of my life. I remember watching the 1997 election results come in at the local count and seeing big names lose their seat and feeling optimistic about the future.
I had every reason to be optimistic. I benefited from a Labour Government. It allowed me to go to uni , have a minimum wage,see peace in Northern Ireland, scrapping of section 28 etc. It did a lot of good. So 20 years later why have doubts, why don’t I see myself voting Labour this time well here is why.
The Labour Party in Darlington have taken the town for granted and it hurts. Closure of Arts Centre and Museum (this happened with a Labour Government in power). Money wasted on vanity projects such as landscaping in front of the town hall and at same time an underfunded library is downgraded and about to be stuck in the corner of a leisure centre. Yes the town is suffering under Conservative
austerity cuts but Labour are not fighting back. I was a member of the Labour Party until the end of last year and asked the Labour cabinet in Darlington why were they not fighting. The answer from
the leader was “What’s the point they don’t listen to us”. Yes this is probably true but they have to try to show the town they care and they didn’t. They just said this and slumped on the desk looking defeated. I understand why they feel like that but surely they have to keep fighting but it appears not.
Since Tony Blair stood down as leader the Labour Party has been in turmoil. They have either been to busy trying to distance themselves as far left from Blair as they can and everything he touched and trying to drive out any of his supporters. Or they move towards right of centre. They have been in an identity crisis and this has just led to infighting and allowed the Conservatives to do what they want. So although the Government is to blame for many things so are Labour as they have been at times ineffective in Opposition.
The other issue is Momentum. If this was a Political Party fair enough but to me they have taken over the Party I know and some of them have been very abusive to members and anyone who raises doubts about Corbyn. It is healthy to have doubts and challenge things that is what a democracy is about but I have experienced first hand abuse online from Corbyn supporters and in person in town. This damages the reputation of Labour and needs addressing. Healthy debate is one thing abuse is another.
Lets be honest in 2010 they picked the wrong Miliband brother and as a result the 2015 election was lost because he lacked leadership. Then by surprise Jeremy Corbyn becomes Leader. I was a member of the Party then and voted for Yvette Cooper in the first leadership contest. I still believe she would be a great leader. I put Corbyn last on my ballot. When he won I thought OK give him a chance others see something I don’t. Over the coming months it became clear my personal view was not changing. The final straw for me was the EU Referendum. Despite what people think the Referendum was not Political Parties against each other it was individuals choosing a side and campaigning no matter what Party you belonged to. This was the biggest issue in the National Interest to come up in my lifetime and I looked to my Party leader but where was he? Holiday. His Country needed him and he went on holiday. Yes Theresa May was quiet during the campaign but she wasn’t leader of a Party then. Corbyn was. Then when he came back he couldn’t bring himself to stand alongside David Cameron even though they were wanting the same result. This hurt and this was before I knew the result.
Last summer and another Labour Leadership contest and I voted Owen Smith. I couldn’t vote for Corbyn after Brexit. I felt let down. After he won I decided that I would quit my membership. Not just because of him but because of the other issues I have addressed. I now find myself torn. Do I vote for a local Labour Candidate who I want as my MP but feel uncomfortable voting for her because it is still sending support to Corbyn and I can’t justify that.
So I find myself a few days away from an election not sure on where I am going to put my cross. I am not saying I won’t vote Labour but it is proving difficult to do. The 2 Parties I won’t vote for in Darlington are UKIP and the Conservatives. So this leaves the Lib Dems, Green Party and possibly Labour. I suppose I am just going to have to see what happens in the poll booth.
I hope if you are reading this you will understand why I have written this. I hope I don’t get abuse or told I’m a Tory as it won’t change how I feel and will do no good to anyone.
General Election 2017 Prediction
I thought I would end this blog with a prediction of how many seats each Party will get. It is only an estimate. The big deciders I think will be if the Conservatives can make gains in Scotland against the SNP and for Labour to hold on in Wales. The youth vote is also a factor which may tip the balance for Labour but if there are increases in youth vote will it be in Labour strongholds only therefore not making much difference to result interns of seats or across the whole country. The Lib Dems had the youth vote in 2010 but it didn’t make much of a difference then.
Conservatives = 333
Labour = 240
Scottish National Party = 52
Democratic Unionist = 8
Sinn Fein = 4
Liberal Democrats = 4
Social Democratic & Labour Party = 3
Ulster Unionist Party = 2
Plaid Cymru =2
Green Party = 1
Independent = 1
I do like elections and the drama that goes with them. I think it will be closer than people thought when the election was called but I still think Theresa May will be Prime Minister. I also believe Corbyn will remain as Labour Leader no matter what the result is. I want my local Labour Candidate to win but I think we should stick with May as Prime Minister and that is tough to say. Although I don’t want Corbyn as Prime minister I am not going to be gutted if he wins as after all it is a Labour Government but I am not sure they are ready to be back yet and worry they have over promised on things and in reality won’t be able to deliver on everything. The Lib Dems did that and look what happened. But I have been wrong before and I might be again. We will find out on June 9th once the final result is known.