Well, things have been quiet round here for a while, haven’t they? Where has this hedgehog been wandering since January?
Well, the first thing to point out is that I am no longer a member of the Labour party. Last September’s financial crisis knocked the stuffing out of me, and left me with very little interest in getting involved in Labour politics. Not because I thought Labour were uniquely blameworthy, but because I was so distracted by what was happening that it became something of a watershed. “Joining the Labour party” belonged too firmly to “before all that happened”.
Since then I’ve been drifting around the place. Was briefly diverted by Philip Blond’s “Red Tory” essay in Prospect, but was repelled by Blond’s anti-liberalism.
This in turn sent me in the direction of something approaching “classical liberalism”, reading John Stuart Mill and even Friedrich Hayek. Somewhere in the midst of this I cancelled my direct debit to Labour.
I might even have found myself flirting with the idea of voting (whisper it) Conservative, mainly out of a desire to give Labour a smacking and ideally see Gordon Brown chucked out of office. Actually, now you mention it, I think I might even have (gulp) voted for the buggers in the Euro elections. Look, I was young and confused…
But as Adrian Mitchell wrote, when push comes to shove:
I’d rather be a stag at bay
Daubed in colours brown and gory,
Or any creature any day
Than be a bloody Tory
Leading me to the realisation that, however fed up I might be with the current government, and despite having voted Conservative as a protest on a couple of occasions in the past, I really can’t bring myself to vote in an actual Tory government.
So where does that leave me? Well, in terms of fundamental principles, my position remains as described in this post on my main blog last year. A dynamic between Psalm 146:3’s scepticism of political power and Proverbs 31:8,9’s call to exercise power in favour of the “poor and needy”.
But in terms of practical politics, on the most basic level I’m left needing someone to vote for next year. Plus I’m not one of nature’s uncommitted floaters. Over the past few days I’ve been interested in the Cooperative party. I find cooperative principles and mutualism naturally attractive (as in my support for open-source software – it seems the Coop party use Debian for their website!).
Plus, the Coop party’s long alliance with Labour means it avoids the “pure, but impotent” situation of supporting some minor fringe party, while providing some distance and “plausible deniability” from the worst instincts of the Labour party itself. This may turn out, on closer inspection, to be a false understanding on my part. But the Coop party’s new manifesto is released tomorrow, so I hope to check them out in more detail then.