Sunday, May 02, 2010

Why Vote Labour?

Nick Cohen has written an excellent and typically vigorous article in the Observer explaining why, despite all the disillusion with them, real radicals should still vote Labour and steer clear of the deceptive middle-class embrace offered by the Liberal Democrats.

He starts by taking Douglas Alexander and Ed Balls to task for offering nothing more idealistic than "If you vote Liberal Democrat you'll let in the Tories" when answering Cohen's question about why left-of-centre voters should stick with Labour. Cohen is excoriating about Labour's failures, and its blind, destructive love-in with the banking system:

The alliance with the City, which complacent commentators hailed in the 1990s as the supreme example of New Labour's "realism", was disastrous for party and nation alike. It produced the unprecedented spectacle of a dazzled centre-left government, who ought to have had the history of the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and Great Depressionbanged into their heads as children, allowing bankers to inflate one of the greatest bubbles in capitalist history.

This is a theme he has written on before, in his storming book "Pretty Straight Guys". But, just when you think Cohen is about to pronounce the last rites on a Labour party that no self-respecting radical could possibly want to be associated with again, he moves the focus to those would-be radical pretenders in the Liberal Democrats. Their middle-class campaign to seize voters who remain alienated by the Tories has nothing to offer an equally alienated working-class, in thrall to the BNP and others, he claims:

Interestingly, while Nothing British About the BNP and other Conservative groups oppose ultra-reactionary politics in both their white supremacist and clerical guises, the Liberal Democrats are absent without leave from the battles in the slums which will determine the character of Britain.

He concludes about Labour:

Alongside all Labour's scoundrels and freeloaders, you can still find honourable men and women who believe in equality and internationalism. Their presence shows that even if the party's leaders cannot make it, and even if it takes a gut-wrenching effort to make it on their behalf, there remains a case for voting Labour – despite everything.

Perhaps, but while those same "honourable men and women who believe in equality and internationalism" continue to take a back seat in their once radical party, and allow the value-less, PR spinning, war-mongering mediocrities who came into possession with Blair and are still hanging on via Brown to stay in control, those "honourable" few cannot say they have done nearly enough to tempt radicals back into the Labour fold. Cohen has made a good case for a Labour party that should exist but doesn't.

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