Note To The Wise: Political Parties Never Leave People

Does this sound familiar to you?

For a long time now I have found myself defending my membership of the Labour party while wondering what values of mine it defended any more. I didn’t leave the Labour party. It left me, and many others besides. Yet we, the “defectors”, are lambasted as traitors, since it’s easier to launch personal attacks than political arguments, easier to insult and scaremonger than to reflect on why so many core and loyal voters are edging away uncomfortably.

You may recall that when Garth Turner left the Conservative Party, he made pretty much the same argument (“I didn’t leave the Tories, the party left me!”) It’s a cliché, and it’s a bad one because it feeds a delusion of the politically engaged: that sometimes, people are mistaken about the causes they espouse.

Contrary to what some pundits will tell you, one person, alone, does not comprise a political party; you need at least two, because that shows that the ideas of a party can be shared. And as a party gets bigger, its ideas are still shared, but not all of them are shared by all its members. I call myself a Tory, but I don’t support the death penalty, although many other Tories do.

Ms. Monroe, here, is a rising star of the Guardian. She can be saluted for enduring poverty as a single parent and being creative in feeding her family; that she decided to declare her politics in public is also commendable. But there’s a whiff, in her declaration in that Guardian piece, of the conceit that “since all reasonable people think like me, people who do not are therefore not reasonable.” To declare that “the party left me” may sound to the author like “by embracing policies A to C, the party has made itself unworthy of support.” In reality, it looks more like, “The party doesn’t want to listen to me, so why should I stick around?”

It is not a statement of the treacherous, but one of the petulant, of the spoiled, of the person who’s yet to learn to subsume his or her ego to the pragmatism of practical politics.

If Ms. Monroe wishes to condemn the British Labour Party, she could certainly do better than the plaintive cry of “the party left me.” Since it’s not her party anymore, she should do better than cry.

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About phantomobserver

I'm a professional librarian currently working in Ottawa, Ontario.
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One Response to Note To The Wise: Political Parties Never Leave People

  1. gabbyinqc says:

    “It is not a statement of the treacherous, but one of the petulant, of the spoiled, of the person who’s yet to learn to subsume his or her ego to the pragmatism of practical politics.”
    Unfortunately, I’ve often read similar comments — like “the CPC is conservative in name only” — from commenters on Blogging Tories sites. Mind you, there’s no way of verifying that the commenter was a conservative, now disillusioned.

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