Open Letter to the Labour Party

Munstead Wood - Red Rose

Munstead Wood – Red Rose

I am not a member of your party, but over the years I have voted for it (apart from a hiatus in the Blair era). I am writing to you as a social democrat who believes in the power of both the labour movement and the union movement. I am writing to you with a plea that you reconnect with the soul and traditions of the Labour Party and abandon the aping of the Tory party that began with New Labour, and threatens again.

The Tory ideology is the pursuit of individual gain, and devil take the hindmost. It is utterly inimicable with the pursuit of social justice at the heart of the Labour party. If you chase a short term electoral gain through low-calorie conservatism to become a Tory-lite party you may indeed succeed for a time. But you will leave behind the majority of your supporters, and crucially you will abandon those who rely on you to be their voice in a world that would increasingly silence them. Yours is the party of inclusion and humanity. You relinquish that at great peril. What you will lose will be much greater than what you gain. The Blair years proved this. What emerged from New Labour was soulless, a husk stripped of all that made it vibrant and inspiring.

If you admire the Tories for anything, then admire the tenacity with which they have held to their principles. In the face of extraordinary egregious behaviour by the banks, flaunting of our tax laws by their funders, they have stood by the few they serve and exacted the toll from the many who would look to you if only you gave them something to believe in.

That is not to say there is no need for change. There is a parallel between the change you need to address and that needed by unions. Technology has changed the working landscape beyond recognition. Union protectionism of obsolete ways of working depresses the growth potential of the entire country. The unions need to find a means to make themselves continually relevant in this new landscape, by supporting the re-skilling of their members and promoting the benefits of collective bargaining to an increasingly atomised workforce. As individuals we are slave to our fear of poverty and will allow firms to employ us too cheaply in order to line the pockets of executives. This holds true as much in the burgeoning technology sector as it once did in manufacturing.

The same challenge applies to Labour. We are better informed, more mobile and working in a more globalised economy than the last proper Labour government. We are in a worldwide competition for investment funds and the brightest most able people. My contention is that the cold offer of wealth is not sustainable, and is one that other countries could replicate. Investment we win in the Tory model could as easily flee tomorrow to the next country offering cheap resources and low taxes.

How much better to offer those bright minds and those innovating firms a country with the best universal healthcare system, which will keep their employees safe and productive; the best education system in which their children can flourish; and an inclusive, just society in which they can live freely and without fear. Those firms will look for flexibility in employment terms, but only as one element of their investment decision. A well-educated, well trained workforce, that is adaptable to a changing environment will always trump a low skill, low ambition workforce which can be stripped of its jobs without consequences.

As you embrace this necessary change hold on to and be guided by your principles. Social justice is as relevant now as it ever was. The Tory model of differentiation and selective gain for the few has left our society riven and fractured, and vulnerable to darker forces from outside our borders. Social inclusion and cohesiveness are core Labour tenets. A society where we all grow together will in the long term outstrip one where the few accumulate vast wealth and leave the rest behind. Don’t chase the votes of those holding a Tory lottery ticket with no hope of ever winning. In their inevitable disillusionment they will turn back to those who stood by those things that they believe in, courageously, passionately, unwaveringly, and say “Yes, there is a better way.”

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Faith and Continuity

Suleimani Aqeeq Ring

Suleimani Aqeeq Ring

In Islam we differentiate between Muslims (those who submit to the will of Allah) and Momins (those who believe). Believers have attained a higher state of faith than those who submit. One of the five signs of a believer is that they wear a ring on their right hand, typically a carnelian, and this is mine.

My maternal grandmother bought this in Iraq as a gift for my father, her son-in-law. My brother inherited our father’s utterly gorgeous Omega watch, and I got the ring. That’s pretty much all he had, and as all my grandparents were poor as church mice the gift is probably as much as my grandmother could afford.

I also inherited my father’s mannerisms, but alas not his elegant fingers; the ring has been widened twice since I have owned it.

This is my symbol, of the things I believe, who I am and where I came from.

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More symbols here

Rain Stops Play

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It is supposedly the cricket season, but with the unpredictable British weather, it is pretty much always the off season for summer sports.

This was taken on Friday June 12th 2015 – the 2nd One Day International between England and New Zealand at the Kia Oval. A close game won by the Black Caps, and interrupted by what could have been a match swinging lightning storm. Here play is about to resume and the covers are coming off.

It is against the law (probably) to go the Oval and not take a picture of the gasworks:

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More cricketing snaps here from last season.

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