I've never really been a supporter of a major mainstream party. Despite being most closely linked with the Liberal Democrats I've voted for all 3 major parties at least once. A fact I'm not entirely proud of. I buried my conscience in the safe knowledge that I my vote was tactical.
People say that a persons time at University are their most formative. I'd say that's a crock of shit. The last few years have seen my disillusionment with our government and the non-opposition frustrate beyond belief. I have watched as the nation I am proud of marched into war after war like an aging boxer eager to prove it can still cut it with the young guns. Each war was fought on the premise of improving human rights. Very few can claim to have achieved that aim.
I've watched as our Universities have grown to such sizes that we are left with the prospect of an entire generation of people over qualified for the jobs available.
I've watched as my own MP (RT Hon David Blunkett) has pushed through anti-terror plans which invade personal privacy and destroy the few chances we have in this country to congregate and protest.
But most depressingly, I've watched as a party with a stunning commons majority has forced through policy upon policy by threatening it's own members to "toe the party line". It was the same under Thatchers govt. With a large enough majority you can push anything through, and if your backbenchers try to rebel? Threaten them, intimidate them, demote or promote them. Do whatever you can to make sure they vote with you or at the very least... Abstain. This isn't democratic politics. It's a dictatorship.
So in a decision to no longer sit on the sidelines, I've joined those pesky Liberal Democrats, thorn in the side of New Labour and soon to be destroyer of Michael Howard.
Some might argue that joining a political party will not solve anything. That party (whichever it is) will also follow the familiar patterns of the others. Well, the way I look at it, at least as a member of a party I can work to help change things. Not only the things that are wrong with this country, but the things that are wrong with the party itself. A good friend of mine once threatened to tear up his Labour party membership card. He had become so disillusioned with Tony Blair that he felt it was the only way. In the end he was convinced not to. Why? Because at least as a member he has a voice in his party. He can help to change things.
So bring on Hartlepool (assuming Mandelson jets off to Europe) and bring on the General Election.