My Journey

I originally wrote this as a DM to a group of friends to tell them something of my background. Then I saw that, with a bit of editing, it was exactly what I required for an introductory blogpost.

I became eligible to vote 50 years ago today (29 Dec) when I turned 21. Two days later the voting age was lowered to 18, which meant that my eldest sister got the right to vote at the same time. I didn’t vote in the election that year, I was away in Cornwall & hadn’t arranged for a postal vote, & emigrated to Australia shortly afterwards. Although I returned in 1998 I didn’t vote in the UK until 2015. This is why.

Voting is compulsory in Australia & I always voted Labor, except once when I voted for an independent! It was a protest vote, like many others I wanted a Labor Government with a reduced majority that would make them take voters more seriously. It backfired! We ended up with a lot of independent MPs & a Liberal government! The Liberals thought they’d won the election when in fact Labor had lost it, and we reversed it at the next election. But it showed me the futility of protest votes and convinced me that I needed to be a member of the Australian Labor Party if I wanted to influence policy.

When I joined I was studying as a mature student at the University of Newcastle NSW, finally graduating at the age of 40. I battled homelessness & alcoholism to achieve that goal but was sober & settled when I joined the ALP. A fellow member of my ALP branch asked me what I was I was studying at university & when I told her it was Political Philosophy she asked how I reconciled that with party politics. My answer is I don’t, as a philosopher I’m used to asking awkward questions, but I’m not gonna wait for an answer before deciding how to vote!

I remained a member of the ALP until I got fed up of being just a cog in the machine for winning elections. The Secretary of our branch (I was Treasurer) stood down as a candidate in Federal elections in favour of a someone who had stood against him as an independent in state elections and, according to party rules, hadn’t been a member long enough to stand as a candidate. Ours was one of the two most marginal seats and that election was so close that winning those two seats would’ve given us a Labor government in NSW.

I came back to UK pretty disillusioned & didn’t even bothered voting until 2010 as I couldn’t see much difference between the main parties. Then I joined Twitter & was awakened from my apathy! Chelley Ryan started a petition for a socialist candidate to stand for leadership of the Labour Party and as soon as Jeremy threw his hat in the ring we pulled out all stops to get him elected! I was able to vote for him as a member of Unite Community & joined the Labour Party on the day he was elected. I also voted for Tom Watson and like many others, have come to regret it.

We’re all disappointed with the result of the General Election but must stand strong! Tories can gloat as much as they like but we have nothing to reproach ourselves with. I don’t know if I can continue as a member if a right wing leader is elected but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. Only thing I’m sure of right now is that if I cannot on good conscience vote Labour then I’ld best not vote at all! (An easy decision for me as I’m in a safe Tory seat where my vote doesn’t make a scrap of difference)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s