Congratulations Tory conference protestors - thanks to you I will never vote Labour again. I suppose that’s OK with you - I’m probably the “wrong” kind of voter. The problem, though, is that there may be countless people like me - and you’re effectively ending any chance of Labour being a political force, let alone a party of power, for the foreseeable future.
Full disclosure - I’m a journalist. A “privileged man who writes smears for a living” if you listen to some folk. I grew up in a terraced house. My mum was a cleaner before she retired, my dad worked in the vans for British Telecom before he retired. I went to a grammar school because I was a bright kid but I kicked around menial jobs after gaining a 2:2 degree in Communication Studies.
I became a journalist at 28 after managing to save £1,000 for a course. I earned less than the average wage for the next few years, just like in every job before that. I rent a home because I can’t afford to buy one and I sometimes struggle financially as a single parent. I have occasionally had to rely on a helping hand from the state. If there were a list of things that you needed to tick to qualify as a target for Labour, I’d probably fill most of them. I voted for Labour from the second I could vote in 1997 and did so in every election until 2010.
But then I voted Tory. Maybe out of Labour fatigue or maybe my views had shifted right a bit. Whatever the case, I hadn’t switched allegiance for life. I could be persuaded back. Ed Miliband failed to do that, so I voted Conservative again this year - more out of a lack of choice than a resounding desire.
Yet, even with the state of the party now, with policies I might have voted for as an angry student and a leader I ideologically oppose, I would never swear off Labour for good. I’m not a lifelong Tory.
But after seeing what happened in Manchester this week, I have sworn off Labour for good. I’m done with them. No leader can win me back. They may one day have great policies, they may have a leader I would be proud to represent us on the world stage.
But lurking on the acceptable fringes of the party lie the types of people who think it’s OK to call female delegates “whores” who “deserve to be raped”. High ranking types who call Tories “Nazis”. Tweeters who compare an elected government minister’s policies with death camps. The type of people who think violence is fine because they don’t agree with their ideas on what is best for the country. Ideas that were voted for by 11 million people in May.
And these people were represented by a handful of thugs in Manchester this week. They shouted, swore, spat, hurled abuse and intimidated Tory voters, Tory members, members of the press affiliated to all sides of the spectrum. People like me.
And now, when I think of Labour, these are the people I think of. Not politicians like Simon Danczuk, Liz Kendall, Alan Johnson, and Jon Cruddas - people could get me on side. Instead, I now think of people who not only hate anyone who thinks differently - but probably a few of the names on that list. These people would celebrate a Labour victory. I don’t ever want to give them the satisfaction.
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