This comment, which I got yesterday reminds me of the boneheaded stupidity of some political actors, myself included.
If someone who joined the Labour party at the age of sixteen, has been (an admittedly, not very good) councillor and worked for the party for nigh on a decade is insufficiently pure of heart and soul for your purposes, then perhaps the question should not be "Why are you even in the Labour party?" but instead, asked of the interlocutor "Why are you even in politics?".
After all, a political party that seeks to denude itself of loyal supporters is one destined to fail. Whenever I get this question, I'm tempted to answer, "because if the likes of me no longer supported the Labour party, chances are we'd have a Tory government forever. You seem keen for that to happen. What's up with that?".
But this is an uncharitable response. It is a response that comes out of irritation and churlishness. It does not seek to persuade, or to understand. It is defensive, rude and arrogant.
It goes to the heart of what another comment that was left yesterday suggests:
"It seems to me that at the moment the default position of any Labour commentator coming from the right is to say that what the Tories are doing is good and / or clever. And that what our politicians is doing is bad and / or stupid.
Some of the time, what they are saying may have some truth in it. But it is politics so normally it will be contested and their continual lack of scrutiny of the government pushes them further from the centre of the debate and action. People need to feel that they are arguing with someone who cares just as much about the outcome and wants to achieve the same ends. At the moment too many on the right don't give that impression."
I think this is a fair point.
Indeed, it should worry me, that some look at what I write and ask "What is the difference between what you suggest and Osborne is doing". Because to me, the gulf is enormous, and important.
First, what Osborne is doing right now, is both harmful and stupid, let's get that out of the way first.
Second, being harmful and stupid it is likely to worsen the position any putative Labour government will face. The next Labour government will likely be faced with high debt, high unemployment, low wage growth and stagnant living standards (We can always hope for an external deus ex machina to save us from this prospect, but I'm cautious about assuming that.
Third, in that context, it is vital that the next Labour government not only exists, but succeeds in its governing mission.
This will, primarily, be one of finding a way of lifting the living standards of people on low to medium incomes, increasing the growth of private sector jobs, equipping the next generation with the education and skills needed to realise their potential (which in effect means being competitive with rising educational and skills standards around the world). In the medium term, this will allow growth to return, and allow the virtuous circle of growth feeding tax revenues, feeding investment in social goods, feeding further growth (both human and economic).
I argue for a tough approach to these issues, not because I think the Labour party needs to evade, or shrug off it's historic mission of social justice for all in our society, but because it is essential that the Labour party succeed, and to succeed, it must have a policy agenda that cannot be swept away by crisis, or undermined by criticisms of waste, or be attacked as risky.
We need a Labour party that can lift living standards for all of us in the long term, and that requires being in office, and not just for a single term.
This matters because the alternative to Labour growth is not no growth under the Tories. The magic of capitalism will see there is growth, even under George Osborne, but lumpy, unequal, discriminating growth. Growth which favours the fortunate, the capitalised, the already-well educated, the successful. Now, I don't think Tories go round plotting the downfall of the poorest, but this division is the inevitable result of a policy that minimises the role of the state in helping those who are not already favoured.
David Cameron is right to say that the family is the most effective safety net and the best way to solve many social problems, but think about what that means for those whose families are not so fortunate. I've long argued that the greatest thing about privilege is the way it allows people to fuck up completely and still succeed, From the right background, drugs, or a pregnancy, or an alcohol problem are difficult but survivable. Far too many of our fellow citizens are only one fuck up away from a wasted life. For others yet, it's not even a question of making a mistake.
Is the state the only answer to these challenges? Of course not. But whether it is the central state, or society, or local government one thing remains true.
By the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone.
That's why I'm Labour. That's why I'm desperate for Labour to win. That's why I am so passionate about not just making the argument that the Tories are a terrible government, but on building a Labour government that can govern on the firmest of foundations.