I have always voted Labour.
For a while, my passion for a kind of politics that fought for liberty and equality was indistinguishable from my faith. Both drove me in the same direction.
I believed in a God who was more interested in the gutters of society than the doings of the well to do and famous. I became convinced that Jesus was a revolutionary, sent to call us to a way of life that promoted the last to be first and the first to be last. My heros were people who sought to live out this radical path- even where I failed.
And you know what- I still believe those things.
In the 80’s and 90’s the only party that seemed to embrace some of these views was the Labour party. It was a party in turmoil- arguing over it’s very soul. But still deep in it’s DNA was this passion for social justice and compassion for the weak and poor.
The years of power and compromise have soured so much of this image. The dispicable war in Iraq, the aparent surrender to the ‘free market’, the loss of identity in a changing world. The accommodation with the worst elements of the press on immigration.
Like many of us, I have been struggling to decide how to vote in this coming election. Could I vote for the Liberal Democrats, who are saying some things that I like? Or was there anything about the leadership of Brown that I could still believe in and celebrate?
I am not swayed by the leadership debates. They are televisual circuses that might yet lead us down a kind of politics that has dominated the USA. Beware voting for a well polished public image. We vote for policies and principles, not personalities.
I heard a story about Atlee, the labour leader who did so much to introduce the Welfare State and National Health Service. Someone quipped that an empty taxi arrived at Westminster, and he got out. But his legacy is with us still.
But still, my trust in Brown had reached a low ebb. He seemed so shambolic, so defeated.
I know a lot of men like Brown up here in Scotland. Sober, dignified, private men, who suffer no fools nor enjoy the social life. Taciturn and truculent. Men who believe still in public service.
I watched this (Thanks Jonny) and saw for the first time in this election something that really stirred me.
And made my voting choice a lot easier.