So the disappointment has begun. Ed Balls and Ed Miliband, both in this together. We've been here before, or more specifically I have.
was a member of the Greens from 1989 to 1991, but didn't renew my
membership. Back then there was a lack of organisation or actual
politics in what appeared to be a friendly, but slightly disorganised
social club. It was my natural political home in terms of the global
issues that faced us, but in the 1992 election, I reverted to the party I
had been brought up to support, Labour.
In Scotland, supporting
Celtic and Labour was seen as a constant. They were your team. Celtic
represented your heritage, Irish Catholic. Labour represented you, as a
member of the working class. Ignoring the fact that my mother was in
fact, English and Protestant, I was pretty much expected to follow this
tradition, and my membership of the Greens was a "youthful error".
I didn't vote for Blair,
but I stayed in the party.
most people, I went to bed on the 9th April 1992 expecting to wake up
with a Labour government, the party I'd voted for. Like many others, I
was stunned by the result. When John Smith became leader, I joined
Labour. While my uncle disagreed profoundly with John Smith's politics,
he essentially said he was a decent man. After the death of someone I
believe would have made a good Labour leader, I didn't vote for Blair,
but I stayed in the party.
I'm glad that I left the Labour Party before Iraq
As a young activist, working in a
marginal constituency in London in the run up to the 1997 election, I
met Blair and Brown. I listened as they explained how it would be
different this time. While they pledged that they would match Tory
spending plans in opposition, I convinced myself that when Labour did
win the 1997 election they would look at the needs of everyday folk
around the country and realise that we needed to transform our society.
Once elected, with an overwhelming mandate, the timidity and the fear of
change quickly left me disillusioned. I didn't renew my membership and
I'm glad that I was not still in the Labour Party when a Labour leader
decided to side with the most right wing American president in history
to invade Iraq.
the Labour Party is taking people for granted
2010 was the closest election since 1992 and for
me there are similarities. Many people who had left Labour in the
previous 13 years, for a variety of reasons, were angry and frustrated
by the return of a Conservative to 10 Downing Street. Some rejoined
Labour, quickly forgeting the mistakes and the anguish of seeing what
was once the party for working people. Just like in 1997, those good
people are trying hard to ignore that the Labour Party increasingly
takes for granted the very many good Labour activists, supporters and
voters who still try to hold true to Labour's roots.
the Greens in 1999 after returning from a year of travelling and seeing
Greens elected in Scotland and to the European Parliament. It is the
best decision I ever made. I became an activist after George Bush became
US President. Since then I've put whatever I could into the party, in
terms of my personal efforts in Liverpool, the North West and our
national party, and I am proud of the progress we've made across the
While I recognise my party is far from perfect (nor am
I), there is not a week that passes by that I don't look at the work
done by our local Green councillors in Liverpool, the North West Green
Party, our leader and first MP Caroline Lucas and by the very many
Greens doing great things around the country.
13 years of Labour government crated an even more unequal society
The Greens are a
party that is making progress. We stand for something different. We are
the last party standing against the cuts and the last party that
advocates radical redistribution of wealth in a country that grew
increasingly unequal during 13 years of Labour government.
ex-Labour people are joining us. For now it is just a trickle, but there
will be many more to come in the next decade. Leaving Labour is not an
easy thing to do for people. There are feelings that you betraying your
side or your corner, but for many people in Labour, it the party
leadership that has left them as a residue from a previous era, taken
for granted but no longer respected.
Leaving Labour is hard because people who you have worked alongside and socialised with stop being your friends.
Leaving Labour is also hard
because people who you have worked alongside and socialised with stop
being your friends. If your whole life and your whole social network is
tied to a political party, that makes it very hard. But it can be done
and in fact, life after Labour can be even better. The Greens are the
redistributionist social democratic party Labour used to be. We still
have a way to go in finance and campaigning capability, but each
additional activist makes our work easier.