Enough is enough

On Friday night I was at the launch of Manchester Young Labour at the Town Hall. The turnout was encouraging – even a few young members who’d joined up in the last fortnight – but the talk inevitably focused on MPs’ expenses, with an on-form Andy Burnham getting questions on little else.

One member said she’d had to have long and agonising heart-to-hearts with her dad, a lifelong Labour supporter who was so disgusted by the expenses revelations that he wasn’t sure he would ever vote again at all.

“Really?” I thought. “I know the media are obsessed with who spent what and on what, but is it really going to damage our core vote? After they’ve come through so much with us – when they’re the ones who must truly know, now, if anyone does, the damage that would be done if the Tories got their way and started trying to cut their way out of the recession – surely it would take more than this to lose them?

I was so wrong. I was completely wrong. I’m bowled over by my own wrongness. I’ve heard it from everyone who’s been doorstepping in the last fortnight but I didn’t realise just how bad it was until 10 o’ clock this morning yesterday morning when I got a text from my mom saying ‘Grandad isn’t voting Labour anymore’.

Anyone who’s read this blog more than twice, or been in my presence after a few drinks, will have been treated to the stories about my Labour Grandad. About how my earliest political memories are of him telling me about what Mrs. Thatcher was doing to the country. About how I joined the Labour Party while he was away on holiday with my Nan and proudly bounded up to show him my membership card as soon as he got back. About how he came campaigning for me when I was a local candidate in York (yeah, I know, his time would have been better spent in his greenhouse, but we enjoyed ourselves).

It’s stories like this that leave me open to accusation of unquestioning support for Labour, and I’ve been accused of that once already this week. It’s not true – anyone who’s read this blog more than twice, or been in my presence after a few drinks, knows this issues on which I disagree with the Labour government and how strongly I do so. It’s just that in recent weeks I’ve been convinced that presenting a united front would be more appealing to voters than the kind of Lord of the Flies scene we saw yesterday in the Commons.

Well, fuck that. I was wronger than wrong. My Grandad feels disgusted and betrayed that the MP he’s been putting his faith in since 2001 seems to have been ‘sitting up all night with a calculator to work out how much of our money he can squeeze’ – and I’m sure there are many more like him, in my Grandad’s constituency and many others.

I’ve had that awful ‘phone call with my Grandad and he’s read me the letter he’s sending to his MP in which he tells him that enough is enough, that he’s never going to vote again. I’ve talked him down from that extreme and he’s promised to vote Labour in the European elections – the BNP are targeting the West Midlands as well as the Northwest. That gives me a year – or less, as it may be – to convince him to vote Labour again in the next General Election.

I hate to say it, but a few judicious deselections would probably do it; and like those Party members who wrote to the NEC in the last few days, I’m not sure the action that the Party and the Prime Minister plan to take is going to cut it, when it comes to MPs who never broke the rules got away with the absolute bloody maximum they knew they could within them.

I’m signing the letter, for what it’s worth – its original signatories are encouraging more to join in; but it’s going to take a lot more than that.

That’s why I’m setting up Project Grandad. I’m going to find as many reasons as I can over the next year – or so – for my Grandad, and core voters like him, to vote Labour again at the next General Election instead of staying at home, and I’m going to try and address the concerns that might stop them. Makes me feel like I’m doing something anyway. I’ll let you all know when I need your help 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Enough is enough

  1. The events of the last few weeks have been the final nail in an already rotten coffin I’m afraid. The sense of betrayal has been felt by large numbers of the parties grass root support for a long time now – some of us would even say as far back as 1997 when we were so desperate to remove the Major government.

    The problem is that so many of us in some respect of another fail to recognise the party we joined in the first place. The heart and soul has been removed, and those of us who still believe in our core principles have to unite and find a way to move forward following the next general election.

    Don’t give up though Grace! I remember life under Thatcher, and I have no wish to go back to those days – hopefully we can convince those who are tired of “New” Labour to reaffirm their trust in the party they felt so strongly about in the past.

    1. Well Tim it may be a good job you aren’t old enough to remember the late 70’s and “life under Labour”.

      3 days weeks
      Power cuts
      Rubbish piled up in the streets
      A government that didn’t listen

      Yes I do get pi**ed off about the “under Thatcher” rants, and mainly by people who have no idea what it was like before her. She wasn’t perfect – not by a long way. But she fought for what she believed in and actually DID something, not just talked about doing something.

      Many things were not handled well, like the miners strike. But a lot of people forget the waste of space that was Scargill. As far as I am concened he did more damage to the pits than Thatcher did!

      Had rather hoped that all changed in 97 however I was wrong. So talk of “trust” I’m afraid is rather misplaced. You have to earn it and I cannot see that happening with Labour anymore.

      My only hope is that Labour fail at the next General Election – big time. In fact coming 3rd would be good.

      Why? Because I think it will be the impetous for the REAL core vote to clear out from the roots and not just tinker. To be 3rd would be such a shock it would make them passionate enough to DO something about it.

      Because I wanted a party I could believe in, that I could trust and at the moment I trust anyone more than Labour. I want a party that believes in what it says and does things about it. I don’t want a party that thinks it can win the next GE by improving it’s presentation skills!

      Dropping leaflets and talking policies is all well and good, but there is nothing being done. It’s all talk. You want rid of the rubbish running the party? Then do something about it.

      The country needs a government that will DO what it says, not one that says it will all be fine then does nothing. I’d rather be told it’s going to be a tough couple of years and things get done than we have what is going on at the moment.

      You might find it hard to stomach but at the moment my vote will be either LD or Tory. Tell me I can’t trust them, but this government (your party) have proved they can’t be trsuted. You want me to trust Labour again? Earn it.

      Fair play to Grace for trying to encourage her Grandad and others to vote. It’s a start and heading the right direction.

  2. This brought tears to my eyes; the very thought of my hard-working Dad with an uncompromising work ethic and a fierce life-long loyalty to Labour even entertaining, in his latter years to being a none-voter, is, to anyone who knows him, unthinkable. Moreso, because during his lifetime, whatever the crisis, previously, he would always have voted; always. This is serious, because there are surely many, many more Grandads all over the country who are similarly disolusioned.
    People like my Dad matter
    His strong belief in Labour has played a huge part in Grace’s interest in politics and he has been a both a mentor and supporter to her.
    Please support Grace’s campaign; Labour needs Grandads.

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