From Bob's archive: The 2005 UK election

I am away for a few days, so am publishing some old posts from the archive while I'm absent. This one (abridged from the original posted here) was written the morning after the May 2005 UK General Election. This was around the time that my readership leapt from a daily dozen to a daily 40 or so, and I started actually writing longer posts.

I found it quite interesting re-reading this, as I believe the problem it touches on - Labour ignoring their core support in a bid to win Middle England - has reached crisis point, as working class voters are now deserting Labour en masse, not for any left alternative, but for the Scottish Nationalists and the BNP, and even for a Tory party portraying itself as socially conscious.

It is also worth adding that my optimism about democracy in Belarus, Iraq and Palestine was rather premature, and in Kyrgyzstan only slightly less so!

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After agonising for a while, I voted yesterday for my sitting Labour MP, Joan Ruddock. She is a good local constituency MP as well as being generally a progressive voice in Parliament. I was tempted to vote for Ian Page of the Socialist Party. Ian Page, a Brockley resident, is a good local councillor. The penalty and the luxury of living in a multi-ethnic working class inner city constituency is that the Labour majority is so big that you can vote for who you want and it makes little difference. I am often tempted to vote for Ian Page and similar candidates as a warning to Labour that they cannot keep on taking their core voters for granted in their bid to seduce middle class Little Englanders.

However, after last week with war returning to centre stage in the electoral debate, I decided I couldn't afford to not vote Labour and let in the appalling Liberal Democrats - or even worse the Tories. I kept thinking of Bush/Gore in 2000, where it wasn't really all of the Florida shenanigans that gave Bush victory so much as all of the leftists voting for Nader.

I like voting. I like walking to the end of my street in the sun (it's usually sunny on polling day) to the local school and passing my neighbours, clutching their ballot papers. I like feeling part of something, feeling part of something local and something national at the same time. I especially like to see older people with their ballot papers - and there are a lot of old, working class people on my street, of all colours - because the older people seem to appreciate the gravity of what they are doing.

I felt particularly good to be voting this year, the year of
Kyrgyzstan, of Palestine, of Iraq - hopefully maybe the year of Belarus.
Walking away from the polling station, I was suprised to see a Socialist Workers Party sticker on a lamppost, a slogan along the lines of "Blair must go". It seemed mad to me to put that up in Lewisham, where the sitting Labour MP is anti-war and the second party in the previous election was Conservative. That is the madness of gesture politics.