I joined the party of those who organised farm labourers, smallholders, crofters and others. Of those who obtained rural amenities such as schools, medical facilities, Post Offices, and so on. Of the Attlee Government’s creation of the Green Belt and the National Parks. Of those who opposed the destruction of the national rail and bus networks. Of those who have seen real agriculture as the mainstay of strong communities, environmental responsibility and animal welfare, and as a clear example of the importance of central and local government action in safeguarding and delivering social, cultural, political and environmental goods against the ravages of the “free” market. And who those who have fought for affordable housing in the countryside.
I left the party that had done nothing in the countryside except ban foxhunting in order to coax thoroughly shameful MPs into voting for an immoral and illegal war.
I joined the party of the Ministerial defence of the grammar schools by “Red Ellen” Wilkinson of the Jarrow Crusade, and by George Tomlinson. Of their academic defence by Sidney Webb and R H Tawney. Of their vigorous practical defence by Labour councillors and activists around the country, not least while Thatcher, as Education Secretary, was closing so many that there were not enough left at the end for her record ever to be equalled. And of their protection in Kent by a campaign long spearheaded by Eric Hammond.
I left the party that had banned the creation of any more grammar schools, a Bill supported by the Tories.
I joined the party of Labour MPs who defended Catholic schools, and thus all church-based state schools, over several successive decades. Of the early Labour activists who resisted schemes to abort, contracept and sterilise the working class out of existence.
The party of the Catholic and other Labour MPs, including John Smith, who fought tooth and nail against abortion and easier divorce, not least including both Thatcher’s introduction of abortion up to birth and Major’s introduction of divorce legally easier than release from a car hire contract. Of the Methodist and other Labour MPs, including John Smith, who fought tooth and nail against deregulated drinking and gambling. And of those, including John Smith, who successfully organised (especially through USDAW) against Thatcher’s and Major’s attempts to destroy the special character of Sunday and of Christmas Day, delivering the only Commons defeat of Thatcher’s Premiership.
The party of the trade unions’ numerous battles to secure paternal authority in families and communities by securing its economic base in high-waged, high-skilled, high-status male employment. Of the trade union banners depicting Biblical scenes and characters. And of the concern that any new or reformed second chamber continue to include powerful guardians of moral and spiritual values in general, and of our Christian heritage in particular.
I left the party that launched never-ending attacks on Catholic schools. That whipped through legislation for human-animal hybridity, for spare parts babies and for the legal abolition of fatherhood. That introduced 24-hour drinking, and super-casinos. And that wants to ban crosses from classrooms and wards.
I joined the party that had acted in the past to arrest the importation of a new working class whose members understood no English except commands, knew nothing about workers’ rights in this country, could be deported if they stepped out of line, and (since they had no affinity with any particular locality here) could be moved around at will. And that had acted against the enforced bilingualism or multilingualism that transfers economic, social, cultural and political power to a bilingual or multilingual élite, to the exclusion of the English-speaking working class, black and white.
I left the party of immigration so far out of control as to constitute a national emergency.
And I joined the party of Attlee’s successful dissuasion of Truman from dropping an atom bomb on Korea. Of Wilson’s refusal to send British forces to Vietnam, but use of military force to safeguard the right of the people of Anguilla to be British. And of Callaghan’s successful prevention of an Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands.
I left the party of the Iraq War. The party that had sold out Gibraltar, Montserrat, my native Saint Helena, Ascension Island, and the Chagos Islands (I freely concede that a Labour government caused that last problem in the first place), and has done nothing to prevent the de facto American annexation of Bermuda.
“Rubbish”, I hear people crying. “You are far too young to have joined the party that you claim to have joined. Many of those to whom you refer were dead before you were born.” The second part is true. But the first part is not. I just caught the very last days when it was possible to be in the Labour Party as a social democrat and a Distributist. As a monarchist and a constitutional conservative. As a Eurosceptic. As a Unionist. As a campaigner for the countryside. As a defender of the grammar schools. As a church-based moral and social conservative. As a supporter of immigration controls. And as a foreign policy realist.
By no means everyone would have agreed with us, or did. Plenty of people would have disagreed on every point, and did. But we could still look at those great figures from the past and say, “This is our party, because this was their party”. We no longer can. Any one, never mind all, of the above positions is now beyond the pale. Therefore, so are we.
I am standing as an Independent here in North-West Durham.
Where are you standing?