Saturday, 25 October 2008

Why do we do it?

At times i ask myself why we spend all the time we do working unpaid to see members of the labour party elected.

You know what i mean, standing on doorsteps talking to people who at times are not very nice to you, at other times they make you feel that you are doing one of the most important jobs in the world, we don't get any thanks all we get is asked to do more and more..... so why do we bother.

Well for me that answer is a simple one, its thanks to the NHS that we created 60 yrs ago that my grans last days were pain free, its thanks to the welfare state that we created that my family was able to survive under the worst days of thatcher and it was thanks to this labour government that i had the opportunity as a mature student to go to Aberdeen and for that i am eternally grateful.

so i ask the question of anyone who reads this blog (and i know we are new) so why do you do it, why do you hit the streets and why is it important.


  1. Why indeed? A seemingly easy question but its simplicity is misleading. To understand ones own motivations and driving forces is no easy thing. The human brain is hardwired by hundreds of millions of years of mammalian evolution to initiate action without the need for complex and thorough analysis of each and every situation we come across. Therefore the way we act and the paths that we take are driven as much by the way we feel as by what we think.

    This is not neccessarily a bad thing. There is biological evidence to suppourt the notion that humans are hardwired to behave philanthropically to one another in order to promote group cohesion and protect the human gene pool; but you don't need to understand this to feel empathy for someone, to feel sympathy when you see somene in pain or feel discomfort at the sound of a baby crying.

    Unfortunately this empathy only stretches so far. In fact only so far as the edge of our monkey sphere. Evolutionary psychologists have shown that primates live tribes whose sizes correlate to the size of their brain. For a human, that tribe size is 150. This is the number of people that the average human is able to conceptualise as being a person. Beyond this people do not exist, and it is hard to feel sorry for people who don't exist. It's hard to accept your hard won money being taken off you in order to apy for services for people who you will never meet and may as well not even exist so far as our (albeit highly developed) monkey brain is concerned.

    And having said that I finally get round to answering the question. Why do I suppourt Labour? Why did I spend last Saturday in Glenrothes posting out letters and flyers for a candidate I have never met? It is because what the Labour does, something that the SNP and the Tories will never do. It looks beyond the monkey sphere, beyond 150 people to the 65,000,000 in the UK and the 6,500,000,000 around the world.

    The Labour party sees, and I see, that there are people beyond myself. People just has of worthy of the oppurtunities I have had placed at my lap due to the great fortune of being born a middle class white male in Britain rather than one of the 1,000,000,000 people who have no access to clean water. Or born in a household in a Britian where despite my intellectual abilities I would be denied the ability to go to University because I could not afford it (a situation that this Labour Government and the Obama Campaign have been especially eager to tackle). Or I could have, like my Great-Grandfather who died of septicaemia in 1945 leaving my Nana a widow for the last 56 years of her life, been born in a time before the Labour founded NHS provided healthcare on humanitarian not economic grounds.

    The Labour Party also understands that tough times and misfortune can strike anyone, and that being poor and out of work does not mean that you are lazy and deserving of your situation. A lesson that the Tories would do well to take heed of.

    It is very easy for an Old Etonian born into privilege (I've always liked the joke made of Dubya that "He was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple) to look down on the unwashed masses with contempt and scorn. It takes a lot more empathy to realise that people on benefits are human beings too, that they did not get choose their situation anymore than Tory boy did. That people who are unemployed and on the dole are in that situation because when you didn't go to Eton and then straight on to Oxbridge it's very hard to walk straight into job security. That people claim benefits because for them tough times means more than firing the cook or forgoing the yearly trip to Val D'Isere.

    I suppourt Labour because it is the party that looks beyond 150 to see the society that we are all part of. A rich city investor might not like that he has a large tax bill, but before he complains that he shouldn't have to pay for the NHS when he is a member of BUPA, he shouldn't pay for the state school system when his kids got to Harrow or Rugby (and he wouldn't if the Tories had their way) or pay for social security when he has a secure job and a full savings account he should consider who it is that benefits from these services. He doesn't even need to be a selfless humanitarian and suppourt these services out of the kindness of his heart. He can simply see what the kind of person who is most likely to claim benefits, and benefit from healthcare, and use the state school system, does for him.

    And what they do for him is make the country work. They give him a society in which he can live and work and prosper. I would like to see how successful he could be without the working class that the Tory Party has so much contempt for. I would like to see this big city man get to work with no tube workers to get him there, no roads for him to drive there on. Piles of rubbish and excrement to clamber over because there are no binmen or public sewer systems to take away the waste he unthinkingly discards. And he'd better not get sick because if he goes to his local BUPA hospital he'll find no receptionist to greet him and he'd better not hope for the halls to be clean with no-one to clean them. But then that'll be the least of his problems since there will be no-one to fix the heating or the hot water or the power supply or any other of the million and things done by people whose job it is to make what they work something that only they have to think about. And that that is what the Labour understands, that this nation, this community in which we live, whose wealth and freedoms we appreciate was not built by the rich and successful, but by the common work of all the people who live in it.

    Above all the Labour Party understands this; understands that by the strength of out common endeavour we achieve more than we can achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise out true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and oppurtunity are in the hands of the many not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.

    And that is why I suppourt the Labour Party.

    Andrew Beggs

    p.s. I do realise that this a very long rambling post with, probably, little coherence but I'm a science students not an english or history student so that's how I write.

  2. I knock on doors and get (only occasional) abuse because the left has better philosophical and political arguments for the creation of a just society than does the right, and because the Labour party, whatever its faults and internal dysfunctionalities continues to be the best organisational structure in Britain for putting the philosophical, political and practical arguments of the left to practical test. You give personal testimony to that in your post, and I've got plenty of evidence too.

    Well done on setting up the blog, and good luck with it.

  3. I see we have anonymous posting again and how original by saying vote tory.

    why would i ever vote for a party that introduced the poll tax, that led to recession after recession and who are now working hand in hand with the SNP.

    Vote tory never as for social justice, equality and a better life then there is only one option and that is Labour.

  4. Ah yes good old anonymous. A nickname isn't anonymity enough for some. Or perhaps they just lack the imagination to think up a name. This one certainly seems to be lacking in that respect.

    Vote Tory? Why? If you're going to post you might as well post in order to say something.