How to make Labour a progressive party…

There’s an election tomorrow – only a local election, but still a big enough election to make me think very carefully about how to vote. For me, it’s difficult – as I’ve blogged about before. I’ve been a Labour supporter most of my life, and instinctively love to vote Labour this time – but the direction Labour seems to be heading makes this very difficult for me.

In most key areas, it seems as though there’s no real difference between Labour and the coalition. Labour’s shameful stance on Workfare, their apparent acceptance of the scrounger/striver agenda for welfare, their immigration policies, ‘tough’ crime policies, apparent support for the Snoopers’ Charter, failure to effectively oppose the coalition on education etc etc make them seem little different from a centre-right Neo-liberal Tory-lite…

So what is a progressive to do? How can the Labour Party be helped to rediscover its soul? It seems all but impossible.

If I vote for them tomorrow, and they do well, they’ll think their policies have been endorsed, and they’re going in the right direction.

If I don’t vote for them tomorrow, and they do badly, they’ll think they need to move further to the right.

If I rejoin the party, they’ll think that I’m joining them because I like their policies – so more of the same!

If I stay out of the party, they’ll (justifiably) say I have no right to criticise their policies.

Whatever I do, it seems, they won’t be becoming progressive any time soon. And yet, what other option do I have? Vote Green? I like the policies, but they care so little in my constituency they don’t even have a manifesto. Spoil my ballot paper?

It’s frustrating, to say the least. I’d like to rejoin the party – I know there are many good people in the party – but how can that help? I haven’t seen any sign at all that the front bench pays any attention at all to the progressive activists in the grassroots. If it did, the likes of Liam Byrne and Stephen Twigg would not still be representing the party in the crucial areas of welfare and education.

I suppose I just have to accept it. It’s very sad to be effectively disenfranchised.