Labour have always prided themselves on being a broad church with their members and supporters holding some very different views indeed.
It used to hang together as a political force as much because of its authoritarian approach to politics where internal disagreement was kept very much out of the headlines.
How things have changed with just about every Labour disagreement filling our national newspapers and splits of every kind being an everyday thing these days.
And this leads me to a question that I have been asked a surprising number of times already as we move towards a General election. The question? Do I agree that electors should vote for the candidate of a left of center party that can most obviously beat the Tory candidate in any given constituency. Well at one level, to me as someone of the left, the answer in the abstract is yes BUT….
The BUT is this for me. Before voting for any candidate (of the center left) you must look at what the person actually thinks, what their record is (if they have been an MP previously) and how easily they may be whipped to vote for things that their party wants but you as an elector may well not want. In other words just blindly looking for the best left of center candidate to beat the Tory in your constituency may at face value get you a non-Tory MP but it may also get you someone who is little more than a Tory under a different flag.
Some Labour MP’s are actually quite right wing in their outlook so watch out. For example you would probably be using your vote well if you live in a seat where the sitting Labour MP voted against Brexit (despite being whipped to back Brexit by Jeremy Corbyn) and you supported them. But what about those Labour MP’s who either campaigned for Brexit or were prepared to be whipped to vote for Brexit in the House of Commons despite having campaigned against it in the EU Referendum?
And why do I use Brexit as an example? Because Brexit will hurt the ordinary man and woman in the street hard and it will hit the poorest hardest. No one of on the left of British politics can support Brexit without realising that it is a social and economic disaster for anyone but the rich and powerful. So how an MP voted in the House of Commons over Brexit is a really big issue. An MP who voted for Brexit but who also says they support ordinary working people and those in society who are less fortunate are, in my view, running with the hare and the hounds. What I am saying is that Brexit and a caring social attitude are incompatible as far as I am concerned.
So yes please seriously consider the best placed candidate to beat the Tory in your constituency but don’t assume that the Labour candidate (should they at face value be the best placed) is all that you would want them to be. You may be in for an unpleasant shock if you don’t check out the candidates of the center left in detail!