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Why I will be voting Labour tomorrow by Rachel S Roberts.

May 5, 2010

When I was little, the Conservatives were in power. I lived in Reading, 30 miles from London, and I remember Miners wives coming all the way from the Welsh Valleys with their children, to beg. People would do their food shopping in Tesco,then go outside and give those women tins of food and talk to them about their struggles. Unbelievable to think that was just 30 years ago -women begging for food for their families on the streets, in the UK. It’s sometimes referred to in the media, and is an image people think of as a cliche or myth nowadays. It’s neither. I saw it.

In 1997, Labour finally won. My parents and grandparents, lifelong Labour voters, whooped with delight when Portillo lost his seat – then cried with joy at the result. Like millions of other families they saw that the bad old days were done with, and perhaps now, the working man had a government that would help him. Then after the honeyymoon, it all turned bittersweet – the Iraq war, David Kelly, the reclassification of cannabis, the lack of affordable housing in southern England meaning my sister and I have to live hundreds of miles from our families,and the absolute arse made of pensions. Those were the unforgivable sins. Over the last year, my angry and disillusioned parents, and grandparents, decided once and for all that they were going to vote Lib Dem or Green in the next election. Cleggmania hit, and combined with Vince Cable’s impressive commentry on the recession,it was a sound combination. I flirted with Nick Clegg, and he nearly had me.

But then, I woke up. I realised that many of us are sitting here having come through our teens and early adulthood under Labour and we completely take it all for granted. On a personal level -the minimum wage and tax credits enable my family to have some disposable income. Paid paternity leave meant my husband could be there in the early weeks with our new babies. The sure start centre down the road gives me accessible health clinics, cheap childcare so I can go back to university this year, and helps women in deprived areas learn about nurturing their children, and not just repeating the behaviors of their own mothers. I have personally seen 2 women saved from domestic violence by their outreach workers – a year on, both have a safe home with their children, one in back in education and one is working. Because of Sure start. When I have used A and E with my brood, it’s been a quick, efficient visit – none of the 6 hours bored stiff waits that we endured as children. Same goes for schools – my children’s school is new, and equipped with interactive whiteboards and laptops, a sign of the times perhaps – but a far cry from the shabby facilities and leaking roof of the school I attended in the 1980’s. Free nursery for every 3 yr old, educating and easing childcare bills. Free entry to museums and galleries. Civil partnerships. Record numbers of people applying to university – because despite tuition fees, it is still an affordable ambition even for those on the lowest incomes. I should know, because I am one! My grandparents get free bus travel, and the winter fuel allowance – and they cannot believe how much better off young families are these days.

So when my Grandad let slip the other day that he’d been to the betting office and placed a bet on a Labour win, a complete turnaround on his opinions of the last few years – I knew I was justified in going back to the Labour party. Because people will see (the floating voters I hope most of all will see) that they are the only party trying to ‘do the right thing’ by EVERYONE in society. They may have got some things very wrong, I’d never dare to deny that – but what they have got right has changed the lives of the people in my section of society for the better as I see it everyday, and that is wonderful. They should be allowed to continue doing that. Which is why I will vote Labour tomorrow.

You can follow her on twitter at twitter.com/rachrahs.

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18 comments

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Freedom Fighter. Freedom Fighter said: Why I will be voting Labour tomorrow by Rachel S Roberts.: When I was little, the Conservatives were in power. I l… http://bit.ly/d63qfV […]


    • What a gr8 blog – totally agree. This brilliantly expresses how I feel. Thank you


  2. a stunning endorsement of the only RIGHT party to vote for. if more voters were as passionate and informed as you, this country would be a richer place for it.


  3. I feel like this is myself talking.. You have written my own thoughts down! I also toyed with Lib Dems along with my disillusioned lifelong socialist family but my heart & trust must remain with labour. Beautiful words, thank you Rachel x


  4. Amen, Mrs Roberts. Amen.


  5. thank you very much! You’re all very kind. I shall get back to the kitchen sink again now. 🙂


  6. […] guest post on one of my favourite blogs deeply flawed but trying by Rachel S Roberts, sums up quite nicely why we seem to be blind to the good things that Labour […]


  7. Well said dear daughter x


  8. oh no, you are destined for far greater things than a kitchen sink Rachel. you have a very special way with words that many, myself included, would find very illuminating and inspirational.


  9. Voting floaters go Lava-Tory…
    http://tinyurl.com/3a9htyb


  10. Good work Rach. very well written, and I couldn’t agree more!


  11. Brilliant & inspirational in equal measure


  12. Whilst I agree with your sentiments about the Conservatives, you don’t say why you feel the Labour party are a better bet than the Lib Dems. Your reasoning seems to be “Labour haven’t done as bad as maybe I first thought”.

    The Liberal Democrats will re-distribute more wealth than Labour, put more money and less central control into education and build a bridge to the growing ‘underclass’ through tax policies and integration of many illegal immigrants.

    I don’t want people to vote Lib Dem as a kick against Labour, but to dare to imagine what could be with a new and fair democracy away from the old dogma of “tax and spend” against “slash and burn”.


  13. Excellent piece. I have shared it with my friends on Facebook and Twitter.


  14. You took the words right out of my mouth. As a child of the eighties growing up in a mining community decimated by tories, we had nothing. An ice cream off the ice cream man was way beyoned our means, me and sis used to sneak and ask him for any broken cornets.Egg and chips was our staple meal – it was all we could afford.My dad was a lone parent and did the best he could but because of the tories, we had nothing. Luckily my pop was an educated man and taught us the true values in life. I became a single parent myself, but with the help and support of Sure Start and childcare I managed to qualify in my career. I couldn’t have done this without Labour. If the tories get in, it is people like me, from towns like mine that will suffer once again. Thank you for your comments


  15. Thank you for re-affirming the reasons I #votelabour. I have tears in my eyes after reading this.


  16. Hmm. I used to feel like you.
    But Nick Clegg was right – it’s not the Labour voters who stayed up all night on May 1 1997 that have changed.
    It’s not the Labour voters who were sickened first by Thatcher’s and then Major’s sleaze ridden administrations who have changed,
    It’s the party we voted for.
    The party of Mandelson
    Of Keith Vaz
    Of David Milliband – and God help us if he becomes leader after this election. Another posh policy gonk with no real conviction.

    I don’t blame Gordon Brown for this recession. But it happened on his watch. The banks went bust because he believed they needed this “light touch” regulation.
    I’d expect that of the Tories. But not Labour.

    And the fact that hospital managers, GPs, council chief executives, etc can all now routinely claim six figure salaries – while rank and file public service workers have seen their wages stay more or less the same – is a national disgrace.
    The gap between rich and poor has got bigger in the past 13 years. I’d expect that of the Tories.
    But not Labour
    Bot the Labour party I used to love, anyway.

    For that reason, and it saddens me to say it, I won’t be voting Labour at this election.


  17. Thanks so much for all the comments – I won’t respond because A) I am an utterly crap debater and cry if I can’t find the right words, and B) it’s not my blog but the wonderful Lisa’s, so I will just say thanks again, read this blog as much as you can because it’s written by an incredible woman who I am proud to call my friend. Lastly- Happy Voting, whatever the outcome tomorrow!



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