Every thing I ever have read before every election I can remember tells you that this is the most important election ever. So I’m not going to do that here. I do however, see that this is the most unknowable election of my voting life. There really is all to play for and with a landslide majority unlikely for anyone, what happens at this election could affect our democracy and elections for years to come.
Labour aren’t perfect. I know that. I’ve been an internal critic of some decisions for years, ranging from Iraq to ID cards. We’re tired, and we sometimes forget how to do what we are here to do. If re-electing Labour were all about the party alone, I’m sure some activists would welcome a break and a chance to regroup.
I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t because I know that that would let down the people Labour is here to serve. Individual MPs may have let them down before, but we, Labour, must not and will not let them down. If we are at our best when we are at our boldness, we are at our boldest when tilting at the windmills of poverty. Dreaming what once seemed an impossible dream of it’s eradication, now brought so much closer to reality by our actions here and abroad.
The narrative of this election has been that of mending our broken politics. I celebrate that narrative and agree that and end to the first-past-the-post system would be a laudable achievement. But I ask us not to forget that democracy is not just about how we vote, but what we vote for. At this time of economic crisis, when cuts will have to be made, I – much as I may personally benefit – don’t want to be rewarded for my middle class life, but pay fair taxes to help those who will be worst hit – first and deepest – to stop those cuts taking us backwards in poverty reduction.
I could use this post to lay out how bad I think a Tory government would be, but far better writers than me – Particularly Johann Hari - have already done so with breathtaking clarity. But I’d rather talk about why, at this time and in this election, we should vote Labour. Int he Guardian endorsement of the Lib Dems, their analysis included this line: “Labour’s record on poverty remains unmatched “. Now I understand the seduction of the “Liberal moment”, I too want a shift back on civil liberties and reform of the voting system. But not at the expense of the party “umbilically linked to the poor” at a time when both other main parties are offering deep and swingeing cuts, and routinely attacking the kind of public sector services, tax credits and benefits that the poorest in society rely on. It is too high a price for me. I hope – as I have outlined previously - that Labour take from the rise of the Lib Dems lessons on these issues and a greater understanding of their electoral significance for a core part of their electorate. I can’t however, offer up deep and devastating cuts by an unconcerned government as a price worth paying.
So I will fight for Labour to be in Government – protecting their core principles and fighting for the poor. In coalition if it comes to it – alone if we need to, we must never forget what Labour is for and why we fight. Our poverty reduction measures may be unfinished, but they remain – undiminished – a beacon of hope and a vision for a better world.