Today I have made the leap and left the Labour Party. I have been a member of the party since I was about 16 and have been affiliated with the party as long as I can remember. Before I go into the whys and wherefores I will point out that my ideologies have not changed and I am not ruling out rejoining the party at a later date it is just that for now I do not feel comfortable giving money to the organisation.
OK so my history with the Labour Party, I was born into a Labour household, my mum was a long term Labour member, Dad is a Labour Councillor and my Godmother is an MP. Growing up my friends were all mainly from Labour supporting households, I was well and truly immersed. Somewhat naively throughout my youth I did the biddings of the local Labour party whether it was delivering leaflets or entering data onto a computer database and I do not regret this getting Labour into power in 1997 was a great success and the party did many great things when in power in Northern Ireland, devolution and welfare changes.
Things though have changed, I studied politics both at college and then University. I have since learned and seen first hand the dark side of politics in the UK and around the world and with that I have become politically at least much more of a pessimist. I went into University thinking a life in politics was the life for me, I came out not so sure.
Anyway to the party we see today, my decision to leave is based on the fact that I really see no tenable option as to who I would like to vote for as leader. Normally I am very much the advocate of it doesn't matter who the leader is as we are lucky in the UK to have a party system, not presidential but times are changing with this leader vote comes a choice of which Labour party we will see come out the other side.
Now with Jeremy Corbyn, although I did not vote for him in last year's leadership election (to see why see here) I was sympathetic to his ideals and to a large extent I still am. I am an old fashioned socialist at heart but I am very pro EU and I understand that there is a need to compromise with the right of the party to find a solution for all. I cannot side with Corbyn though as he has shown a lack of ability to compromise and a stubbornness which is not in the interest of the party or the greater population. Unfortunately as well, though not entirely his fault, there is a large portion of his support who are not playing by the rules.
As for Owen Smith (and the majority of the PLP) I can see their point of view, Corbyn has become a laughing stock of late and probably has become un-electable and Smith seems to have some good ideas, encompassing some of the better arguments from both left and right of the party. Of Course though there are the negatives, my initial complaint is the way in which this leadership campaign has been brought about, despite a disdain for Corbyn that the majority of the PLP has he does have a mandate to lead based on the votes of the membership. To create a coup and call for a new leader is saying that the party don't care what the membership want and that is not good for democracy. The polls and likely outcome of the election prove that Corbyn is want the membership want. Also like that of the left, the followers of this movement have also been nasty as well if in a more passive aggressive way often portraying themselves as the victims whilst posting stories of how awful the left is.
Now realistically neither side will get the party elected any time soon as despite the Tories being a complete mess, the Labour Party has managed to make them look like a pillar of strength and so we are destined to be ruled over them for a decade as they take us out of Europe and build the UK into USA v2.0. I have seen this debate cause arguments between friends and family with both sides shovelling negative propaganda down the other sides throat and rarely offering any positive solutions to the problem. Neither side are willing to compromise in the slightest and thus I don't see what I can do but remove myself from the situation and wait for the party to implode in on itself from the outside. Until then I will keep myself busy with individual campaigns rather than party politics and maybe somewhere down the line try and help rebuild a party from the inevitable split that is just over the horizon.