Why I am Left Wing

Open Left, the project for which James Purnell is the director at Demos – “renewing the thinking and ideas of the political Left” – asked various types their reasoning for being left-wing. I had a couple of minutes so I answered the questionnaire. As follows:

What is it about your political beliefs that puts you on the Left rather than the Right?:

The so-called political surgeons are attempting to suture up the old left/right divisions, but the fair arrangement of capital, the welfare state and the public services are best overseen by those with everyone’s best interests, regardless of class. It is on the left that these values will stay put, where the right might only flirt with them for political gain.

What do you consider made you Left wing?:

Initially it would have been a mixture of two things; discussions with my Grandad who worked for the TGWU, and discussions with participants at anti-BNP/NF demonstrations (which I would attend before I had been politicised).

How would you describe the sort of society you want Britain to be?

One in which Government isn’t held to ransom by the City. A society that measures success by fairness and equality and not by growth. A society where information is not dealt to the highest bidder, where education isn’t seen as an investment but a right, where pension pots are safe from economic fluctuations. A society where the Labour party is the Labour Party again.

What one or two changes would make the biggest difference to bringing that about?

Firstly, to root out the bad wood in the Labour party, those careerists, rightists, and opportunists who figure the best way to win elections is to meet head-on with the Tories, then secondly turn our backs to donators who hold the party ransom for their own personal clout.

What most makes you angry about the way Britain is now?

Sidelining discussion for compromise. James Purnell hit the nail on the head when he said that Labour’s lack of debate on immigration put their political clarity on the subject in flux, and in impromptu discussion on the matter just seem lagging on the back foot. Politics in Britain, when its not in compromise, its contrarian, and this is enough to make any left-winger go red in the face.

Which person, event, era or movement from the past should we look to for inspiration now?

Saint Paul; he knew that political salvation was not meant to be for a select committee, but for everyone, regardless of race, creed or class.

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4 Responses to Why I am Left Wing

  1. HarpyMarx says:

    Firstly, does Purnell consider himself to be left-wing? Strange if he does because this is the man who pursued a policy that saw the benefits system opened up to the private sector wholesale, along with conditionality and sanctions forced on the unemployed with the biggest vile insult known as workfare. That doesn’t strike as someone who is vaguely left-wing, it doesn’t strike me as someone vaguely social democratic. It strikes me as someone who is right-wing, who peddled stereotypes about the unemployed and developed the hideoius ‘culture of dependency’… He may be a good MP (I have heard reports he is) but he was the worst ever Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
    Also left-wing = Socialist but I am sure that is missing from Purnell’s political lexicon.

    Secondly, getting the Purnell rant off my chest 🙂 I found your post interesting and how you became left-wing.
    My own political evolution started around the Winter of Discontent (my dad on strike) and later the Miners’ Strike, which led me to join the LP (and as we know the LP leadership sold out the miners) and especially LPYS. I also embraced Trotskyism as a youth. Years on, mellowed out and not as energy charged I still consider myself as a revolutionary socialist, the overthrow of capitalism to create a more just and equitable society tho’ I am a realist and the barricades are being erected at the moment nor is storming of Parliament and Buckingham Palace so it is the duty of the Left to pressure, especially a Labour government to implement basic social democratic policies that will transform society, it is basic stuff yet NL decided to adhere to neoliberalism and free market. And look what happened….

    And that for me is what I loathe about Labour and that’s NL and what it has created…. a Frankenstein monster….

    Sorry for babbling on …

    • Goodness me that’s not babble, it’s nice to hear how you became attached. It has a smiliar trajectory to my own – an initial embrace of Trot, which slowly moved from antagonistic entryism, to sober labour party support (perhaps I became more complacent than you, still holding on to the mantra revolutionary socialist).

      Also, yes, Purnell, left wing, it was confusing and contradictory. I often wonder how far the party line can obfuscate a politicians’ personal convictions. Having seen Jon Cruddas’ voting history I’m sure that the party line has obscured his political convictions, but with Purnell I’m not so sure. He says he’s agitated by careerists in the labour camp, but it’s going to take more convincing, and perhaps even some evidence.

  2. HarpyMarx says:

    Ahh, thanks mate…glad you understood..

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