Why I’m (no longer) Labour

I went to two interviews to become a candidate for the Labour Party in the Westminster elections. On both occasions I wasn’t given the chance, these are the things I said:

  • I joined the Labour Party because Tony Blair convinced me it had changed to become more pragmatic and willing to do what was right and necessarily and not philosophically most ‘left-wing’ and ‘anti-Tory’. I went into public life to make fairer decisions.

Asked about what I thought the issues I thought would be challenging for Labour at the next election (2010), I said:

  • Labour’s rhetoric on immigration is not as strong as the Conservatives
  • Not tackling consumer debt would mean Labour would lose the initiative on the economy

Asked what I thought about some issue loosely related to expenses where Labour was implicated in the press I said:

  • I’m sure the Tories will be found to be hypocrites, as if one is doing it they all must be

At the end of the different interviews, I asked whether they had any reservations about me and they said:

  • “We have never met anyone with as much honesty and integrity as you”, and I didn’t get on the list. I was then told in a letter I lacked “communication” and “team-working” skills.
  • “You wouldn’t be very good on Question Time”
  • “You can’t prioritise as you have too many ideas”

The thing is, I was only in my 20s then, and all I wanted to do was stand in an unwinnable seat for Labour – Torbay – which was where I went to private school for my secondary education. I thought telling them how I identified with Tony Blair’s New Labour project would be helpful, as the people in Torbay shall we say are not exactly ‘lefties’, but more business minded, like myself. And also, however ‘poorly’ communicated, the things I said about the economy, immigration and expenses turned out to be true!

The Labour Party should have invested in me, because all the criticisms they had of me then, only two years from when I would have stood at the 2010 general election, I have addressed them all, in a huge part thanks to my university education, supported by the Disabled Students Allowance, which in fact was increased by the Labour-led Welsh Assembly during my studies, and which I wouldn’t have even had the chance to do without Tony Blair introducing tuition fees to allow my first degree to run, which I didn’t pay much of because I was from a low income family. These are the things I have achieved since my application to the Labour Party to be on its list of potential candidates for parliamentary elections:

  • I set up Glamorgan Blended Learning Ltd, and its Emotivate Project allowed me to demonstrate communication and team-working skills.
  • I have received speaking and presentations coaching, and can now give speeches to conferences and live interviews with the media on TV and radio, without notes.
  • I have received life skills coaching, and can now manage multiple projects at the same time and prioritise and plan effectively.

I think I would be one of the people Kier Hardie would have wanted in his Labour Party; driven to work beyond the situation I’m born into, ambitious and wanting to make the world and my community a better place, willing to work with others to achieve mutual goals, whatever our abilities, differences or weaknesses. I also think if Kier Hardie was in my shoes today, seeing the Labour Party as it is, he would do what he did in his day and what I’ve done now – found our own party.