As you may know, there is a contest on for the leadership of the Labour Party. It will elect a successor to Gordon Brown, the UK’s worst Prime Minister since Tony Blair, and the contest is relatively wide open with five candidates vying for the job. You may also know that I am a fairly committed SNP voter.
It may surprise you, then, to learn that I have a say in the election of Labour leader. It certainly surprised me, when my voting form popped through in the post this morning. You see, the Labour Party leader is not just elected by the party membership, but a complicated electoral college of firstly the party’s MPs and MEPs, secondly the party membership and thirdly the membership of affiliated organisations such as trade unions and socialist societies.
Many trade unions in the UK rather sneakily donate money to the Labour Party and charge a levy to their membership, regardless of their political opinions, and I was appauled to discover earlier this year that I had not opted out of this with respect to my own union (Unite). To realise that I have been donating money to Labour – albeit just a few quid in total – has made my skin crawl and left me feeling disgusted, when I thought I was just getting the vital protection that a union offers. It’s somewhat akin to eating a gorgeous mystery meal and then being told afterwards that it was actually minced slug in a dog’s milk sauce.
I called Unite up as soon as I realised the problem, and while my levy was changed immediately so that I opted out of the Labour Party payment, I was told that I would not be removed from the relevant membership category until January 2011 due to their procedures. Fair enough, I suppose.
But obviously in that time, I still qualify for casting a vote for Labour Party leader, and Unite’s mailing is now inviting me to participate. By the way, it’s disgraceful enough that the union should be connected to the Labour Party – whose policies are as utterly contrary to the interests of working people as those of the Tories – but they have the temerity to tell me at the same time who they recommend I vote for (Ed Miliband, if you’re interested). Soviet era politics, eat your heart out.
My initial thought was to just bin the letter, but I hate abstaining from votes (I’ve never knowingly missed one in my life) and didn’t want my feelings on the matter to be ignored. So I guess I have two options:
- Vote for the candidate who I would genuinely most like to win the election, even though their victory would never persuade me to vote Labour if it was on fire and my ballot paper was made of water. For what it’s worth, that would be Diane Abbott, who although a hypocritical, spineless politician is still more left-wing than the other four clones of Blair/Brown who have more blood on their hands from Labour’s failures than most in the party. Labour under any of those other four would be a disastrous failure in confronting the Tories (and of course being distinct from them), while Abbott at least is avowedly left-wing and might restore a little soul to the moral black hole that is Labour.
- Engage in some destructive subterfuge by voting for the person I think would be the worst choice in terms of the national interest (I am truly spoilt for choice on this one), thus hopefully harming the Labour Party. Probably not my favourite option of the three.
- Spoil my paper with a diatribe as to why the Labour Party is a disgustingly anti-worker and ethically bereft machine of corruption, selfishness, spin, big business interests and cretinous warmongery, and email as many relevant addresses in Unite explaining my choice and condemning them for propping up a party so counter to the interests of the union’s membership.