Before I talk about voting Labour in 2015, I want to talk about the people who voted Tory in 2010, specifically the people who voted Tory because of David Cameron. Many people voted Tory because they believed in Cameron's plan to modernise the Tory Party, to move it away from its nasty party image, and his pro-business agenda. However some of these showed their support for Cameron by voting for a right-wing Eurosceptic local Tory candidate. These backbench MPs have dragged the Tory party to the right and now threaten to take Britain out of the EU. Whatever you think about the EU, most people agree leaving would be bad for business. Pro-business Cameron supporters damaged the policies they believed in by supporting right wing Eurosceptic candidates. The lesson from this? Who your local candidate is matters.
Many of the above people did not know they were voting against what the wanted. Most likely they had not researched what their local Tory candidate actually stood for. They agreed with Cameron so they voted Tory. Ironically these people would have been better off voting Lib Dem.
This election campaign has focused on the party leaders and personality politics but what your local party candidates believe is just as important. They say that all politics is local; this is especially true with coalition governments. Supporters of a Labour/SNP or Tory/Lib Dem coalition may bring these governments down by voting for the rebellious backbench MPs whose rebellions will eventually unravel a coalition agreement.
I want to avoid this by focusing on who my local candidates are. I want a local MP I can trust to represent the values I believe in. This is why I am voting Labour: because of my local MP Stella Creasy.
The Labour party may be struggling to find its ideology but Creasy certainly is not. She is a socialist, a feminist and a supporter of the co-operative movement. She has spearheaded campaigns against predatory payday loans companies and the harassment of women online. She is committed to defending the NHS and repealing the hated Health and Social Care act. All this I am very much in favour of.
Creasy is an MP who is passionate about Walthamstow, which sounds cheesy but it is true. She supports the campaign for our local EMD cinema and she frequently tweets about Walthamstow. She shows the same interest for the area as the people who live here, which is the first time I can say that about my local MP. Creasy is someone who represents all of Walthamstow, not just the well off gentrifiers who have moved to the area recently but also the less well off who have lived in the area for longer.
To a degree, the national campaign is a factory in my decision to vote Labour. Under Ed Miliband Labour have moved further left than they were in the Blair/Brown years and I want to reward this move with my electoral support. This is mainly because if Miliband does not become the Prime Minister, this slight shift the left will be blamed and the next Labour leader will move the party to the right. Perhaps further to the right than Blair. As a Labour socialist, this must be opposed. It is difficult for me to argue for moving the Labour party to the left if I do not vote for them when they do move to the left, even if it is only a small drift in that direction.
One thing which is inspiring about the Labour party are some of the younger MPs and candidates who have solid left wing credentials. Not just Creasy, another example is Cat Smith, standing in Lancaster and Fleetwood, who is an outspoken feminist. It is inspiring to see Labour’s radical roots alive in this younger generation.
The Green Party do have a lot of passion and a lot of good policies, which is encouraging to a radical lefty like myself, however they are untested in government and I am wary of falling into the same trap I did with the Lib Dems in 2010. The Greens are also not as diverse as Labour and a true left wing movement for change would be made up of the people it is trying to help.
I am willing to trust Labour once more to be a decent party of the left. This is mainly because of new generation of left-wing MPs emerging like Stella Creasy, but also because I know that Labour can be a powerful force for making society better for all and not just the wealthy. I want to continue supporting Labour because I have faith in the roots from which the party came, I have faith in what the party has stood for during most of its life and I have that they can help the poor and disenfranchised.
Our society is dangerously divided and dangerously unequal. We blame the poor and immigrants for the problems caused by the wealthy. However Labour activists and Labour candidates are standing for the most needy in our society and they need our electoral support to be able to help the poor. In the worlds of Billy Bragg’s Between The Wars, “ I kept the faith, and I kept voting, not for the iron fist, but for the helping hand.” Don't let me down, Labour. I am trusting you.