Saturday, 13 April 2013

Getting Involved Again

I am an old Labour man so for that reason I find New Labour revolting in the extreme. Thatcher and Blair had one thing in common: they both believed that people who always vote Labour could be safely ignored. In the old days a man like me could vote for the Communist Party as a protest if Labour were going too far off the rails, but that party's collapse meant that the working class was left unrepresented, so along with millions of other people I just lost interest in party politics.

Last year a neighbour asked me to help him with his claim form for Disability Living Allowance. A week or so later a friend of his then knocked on my door and asked for help with a housing benefit problem. Over the next few months a steady stream of people began to ask for help, with the result that I became a sort of one man advice office. The numbers were not great, probably no more than one or two a month, and I was happy to help people out; they are my neighbours after all.

One of these people jokingly suggested that I should be on the council, and I laughed along with the remark, but later I began to think seriously about it. I already had a small base of people that I had helped and who would, perhaps, give me a punt if I asked them nicely. I did the sums and reasoned that if their families turned out for me as well then I had the makings of a couple of hundred votes in the bag even before I did very much.

I knew very well that this was not enough to get elected so I needed a party behind me, but which one? To be honest, these days all the parties are desperate for activists as more and more people disengage from a system that only seems to represent the socially liberal, economically conservative metropolitan elite, so I reckoned that I could take my pick.

The thought of having anything to do with the Conservatives leaves me feeling in need of a bath, and their Liberal-Democrat satraps are no better, so both were out of the question. New Labour did not want my vote so it wasn't going to get it, and the British National Party probably wouldn't have me on account of my mixed race offspring. Besides, they were heading towards extinction,anyway, so only a fool would hitch his wagon to that wheezy old nag.

That left UKIP, a party dismissed as the BNP in suits, the party of fruitcakes and weirdos, but which was coming up inexorably on the rails. I decided to dig a little deeper to try and find out if they would provide an agreeable home for an old leftist, and was pleasantly surprised with what I found.

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