I’m a Watermelon voter, Green on the outside and bright Red inside, and it feels like I’ve always been politically motivated and had opinions about politics all my life but that statement simply isn’t true.
It’s taken me a long time to feel that joining any political party was for me. For the first half of my life, politics didn’t really have a prominent role or at least I didn’t think it did.
I didn’t grow up in a politically charged household however it was always implicit that you used your vote, especially as a woman because women had had to fight for the right to vote but beyond that, it was never a dinnertime topic. You didn’t talk about politics or religion at the table.
My feminist beliefs however were firmly rooted in my family. I grew up with the belief I could do anything and it didn’t matter that I was female. My Mother was delighted that I wouldn’t have to go through the same things she did. That I wouldn’t have to give up a career I loved if I had a family in the future.
Having said that, for the 1970’s in the North West of England, our primary school was pretty diverse. In my class alone, we had a girl who had been born with Spina Bifida and was in a wheelchair, a boy who must have had what we now call Cerebral Palsy and a girl who had been through Polio and had muscle weakness on one side.
We had the black kid whose Dad was a lecturer at the University and for a time we had a Romany traveller boy.
These were my friends and school colleagues, the colour of someone’s skin didn’t matter, I was more concerned that he’d beaten me at Maths! The fact that there was a wheelchair to deal with didn’t matter either. We used to still play together.
The Miners strikes of the early 80’s were good for my family. My Dad was a Police Officer and although he was never on the front line because of a neck injury, he got lots and lots of overtime to cover for those that were. I didn’t understand why the Miners were striking and quite frankly Arthur Scargill and Neil Kinnock frightened me.
I didn’t know, or at least didn’t think I knew anyone LGBT+, turns out I did and he was my Mother’s beloved cousin. However, he was ‘allowed’ to be different because he lived in London and made amazing home furnishings for posh people in Chelsea. I had no opinion on Section 28, I didn’t really understand it.
I voted Conservative the first time I ever voted. It was also the last time I ever voted blue. I had no idea what I was really doing. I just did what I thought my parents would want me to. I find it astonishing, knowing how politically aware both my own kids are, that I was that naïve.
By the time of the 1997 General Election, I was a Mother with a baby and a toddler. I wanted their lives to be different. I remember crying tears of joy at the scenes of Tony and Cherie Blair walking into Downing Street. It had finally happened, we had a Labour government! Obviously, that didn’t turn out quite as well as we all hoped but it still did get a lot of things right and made a huge difference to the lives of many people.
Towards the end of New Labour, I’d become an environmentalist. Disillusioned with New Labour, I was drawn towards the Greens and I went onto become a member of the Greens, briefly serving on the North Lancashire Green Party executive and standing as a paper candidate for them in Harbour Ward in the 2015 Council Elections.
So, after all that waffling, why have I joined Labour? Well I’m not into cults of personality but one of the answers is Jeremy Corbyn. The way he’s brought Centre Left / Left politics back into the political conversation in this country. Ideas and attitudes, I thought had long left the political arena are back and being discussed.
I want a country that treats everyone as an equal. I want people who are disabled to be given the opportunity to life fulfilling lives and not have to jump through ridiculous hoops to get a pittance to simply survive on. I want decent, well-funded, health and social care systems that supports people properly from cradle to grave and the care of the elderly to be dignified and respectful. I want the under-25’s to have opportunities and not be treated as the easy target to be made a scapegoat and left with massive debts at the start of their lives. I want LGBT+ people to be treated equally. I want people to be properly paid for the jobs that they do.
A government that will use their influence on the International stage to bring those same rights to the rest of the world without compromising with undemocratic regimes.
I want a forward looking environmentally conscious Government that will not pander to the energy lobby, will invest in Green technologies, reduce pollution and have a mature and informed discussion about Climate Change and the challenges and opportunities that it brings. That won’t be afraid to stop the use of pesticides so that we can protect our native pollinators.
Other reasons include my desire to see the constituency I was born in and grew up in thrive. I love this part of the world and I’ve seen it go from a thriving resort, through years and years of bad decisions, under-investment and decay and now despite Austerity, the green shoots of recovery. It deserves to be represented by someone who cares about the area and not just how far up the greasy pole of power they can climb. Someone who won’t treat people with genuine concerns with derision and contempt and positively encourages debate rather than trying to stifle it because it doesn’t fit their narrative.
The only way that can happen is if we fight for a Labour MP.