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  • Writer's pictureJack Martindale

Fix-up, look sharp

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

Moving on. The themes of forcing yourself to have the ability – as unnatural and counter-instinctive as it may seem – to demonstrate being able to generally take things on the chin has to be a true mark of maturity. As much as I’d never claim that I am always successful at so achieving, we must surely place it as a pragmatic goal of any organisation wishing to see itself as capable of controlling anything.

It is rare that I directly reference my experience of being inflicted with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) into my writings these days – being able to celebrate now thankfully feeling so detached – as certainly as it shall never be forgotten, from the experience. Only I do feel it has enhanced and ability in relating to and identify with certain human characteristics. Of course I remain as flawed as ever, in accordance to whatever subjective constitutes an ideal person, I’ve just viewed life from a completely different perspective. This is far from in any way exclusive, but I value the broadening of my horizons and memories in this way.

If anything, what I’d say that what stands out the most, is the ability to empathise with the essence of what it feels like to undergo a true struggle. We all do arguably, but I think that it is always worth reflecting upon and noting. It was gut-wrenching. For somebody always having taken pride in their relative physically and supposed mental finesse – the classic masking my lack of true confidence in arrogance – to being bed-bound and unable to do almost anything independently, was quite the turn-around. One of the key invaluable lessons that I am able to extract from this, is to be able to relate to things from the standpoint of feeling like an underdog.

Though perhaps not a true one though, as of course I still had access to privilege in such a vast array of facets. I was still a white, middle-class male coming from an incredibly supportive, stable immediate and extended family network. Recognising your own privilege is certainly the buzz issue of the day and especially in the work that I do for one of London’s leading homeless charities, I have a fervent acknowledgement and appreciation of just how lucky I have been in the grand scheme of things. I wouldn’t claim that there was any aspect of real altruism in my determined choice not to allow myself to become a victim; being a loser did not fit-in with whatever shallowness and love of life that I possess.

This is where I feel obliged to throw Jeremy Corbyn into the mix. As a man with whom I have never enjoyed the company of, I have nothing of any real note against. As a figurehead to lead a political party and for people to use their support of in projecting themselves as holistic along with somehow pure; I am now forced to see as something of an abomination. What I most resented – not to mention despised – was the view that my reservations towards the effectiveness of Corbyn as leader, somehow challenged how supposedly “left-wing” I was. This is where I was forced to assume that some people attained some depraved pleasure out of launching into fierce pseudo-combats between affiliates of the Labour Party; I can’t dignify this by labelling it as anything beyond the behaviour of overly developed children.

Undeniably against fierce obstacles from the beginning and however much the cards were up against his nobly anti-capitalist stance (surely voicing support for the man was the ultimate must-have vehicle for many of our brand-obsessed ((consumerist)) do-gooders?), though his leadership was atrocious. I mean, surpassing Michael Foot’s modern abyss of attaining just 209 seats in 1983 by 6 in 2019 in accruing just 203 seats in Labour’s worst election performance since 1935. With as many of the contributing factors to this result, as I’m convinced that there were, falling into contemporary blame-culture to describe this result is surely the ultimate victimhood. Or just being a sore loser.

This brings me on to where I’ll introduce the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and its recent confirmation of the anti-Semitism that the most recent administration allowed to exist within the Labour Party. I’m not wanting to argue in the perfect tense over who or what is to blame, but rather focus on bringing the party into power again after in excess of a decade in the wilderness.

Conflated as always, is the striking and not so subtle distinction between being against aspects of the way in which the state of Israel is governed and anti-Semitism. Corbyn succeeds in beginning an investigative interview upon this, as I witnessed it, with the audaciously conceited statement of “I think [that] they don’t acknowledge the work that I did”. Before progressing with his usual pontification and pomposity (which I can certainly relate to, but beside the point), he almost hands Keir Starmer the nail – if he ever really needed one – in his coffin by claiming the claims of Labour’s anti-Semitism to be “over exaggerated in my view”. Whether I agree or not with the decision to suspend Corbyn from Labour in itself, I do think that as leader, something along the lines of “please shut the door on your way out” was something that Keir Starmer had every right to say after this statement. I remain to believe Corbyn is far from any anti-Semite or true racist in any way though admittedly and this is using some hearsay from a big old school Labour supporting family friend with experience of him in the workplace, I’m fairly confident that he’s a bit of a sniveling bully when it comes to having his own way. This is backed-up by the way in which he mismanages such an emotive issue, with complete disregard to the pain he caused such a proportion of his supporters to feel. Still, whatever your views are, I feel that the principle point of the Labour Party is to keep the Tories out of Government and this is what we must now all unite to achieve!

For sure, they’ll be many of us Champagne Socialists complete in our inverted snobbery, who will start on their chants along the lines of “Blair being a Conservative” and I’d never deny some of their claim’s basis. Yet, even just a lazy second… Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA), Family Tax Credits... Is long enough to find but one example of socioeconomic policies has soon been lost upon Labour being out of Government.

Corbyn being too left wing for people was in my eyes never a major part of the problem. As mentioned in a blog before, I campaigned for Labour at the last General Election, only could not summon a single captivating point piercing to sell the electorate on the doorstep. Not having any real message to compel voters towards you – “for the many not the few”– that beyond a well-meaning sentiment of a chorus, was one of the key failures that we must work on to soon change.

I’m sure that many will say that I am being simplistically stupid or to the like, only a force with a clear message is what we now need for people to get behind on a less elevated plain. Of course they’ll deny this, but there is striking evidence from December that Labour are in the position of no longer being party associated with the support of the working-class. Losing Tony Blair’s ex constituency of Sedgefield and Dennis Skinner’s Bolsover are just 2 examples that are sure to be deemed anachronistic by opponents. I even suspect that there is an element of Labour supporters who secretly resist the more menial members of society as the affiliations with the contemporaries who bullied them at school remains… Or perhaps not. It is time for us all to be reminded of our main goal of increased equality, ditch any patronising belief that it’s only matter of people seeing the light and backing us for their own good! We just need once more to have the ability to be in power.

Let’s become an open house for anybody that wants to join us without the superiority of my way or the highway belief in how things should be done. It’s about our future, not the past. Keir is now the Labour Party leader and anybody not wanting to join him, please feel free to splinter off and form your own factions. The ugly irony is that many of you claiming to have represented the real Labour have probably used their ballot to support some of our rivals previously. We want to be a democracy and I respect your right to do so. Just don’t have the brazen cheek to lecture me about so-called loyalty to Labour values. Lose as many battles in the hope winning as many wars as you like, just please do it from within your own political party.

So here we are about to begin climbing a long and steep hill. We need to start dealing with a reality in the way that allows people to stop praising anybody as a deity and bring our field of politics back off of the playground. At least with Starmer we’re not clinging to some untenable image of perfection, but the reality of improving people’s lives. If you want to remain part of Labour, we’ve had long-enough in the backwaters to unite and get behind Keir and we can all suffer the tastelessness of having a Halloween 2020 together!

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