Paul writes eruditely as is his wont on the subject of belonging, being loyal and speaking out. This paragraph in particular I like:
I think the essential dilemma that faces people in the context of an organisation about which they have concerns – whether to leave it or whether to have one’s say about those concerns, and how organisational loyalty plays its part – crystallises well the choices many rank and file political activists feel.
The article is worth reading in its entirety. Simply to add that I’ve always felt that Paul’s loyalty lies precisely in that voice, unerring and true. And as he points out in his reply to his local newspaper, which I republish in part below:
I have never made any secret of the fact that Ed Miliband was my least favoured candidate. To me he appeared to be the candidate most prey to the self-perpetuating trend, in the postmodern body politic, to seek electoral victory by saying to each section of voters what it is felt they would most like to hear, rather than entering into a proper dialogue rooted in economic and political values and analysis.
Conversely, I supported Ed Balls because he came closest to this genuine dialogue, and proper challenge to dominant vested interests, including the media.
Certainly I used some fairly colourful language in the context of the then ongoing leadership contest, but then I am not a political ‘yes man’; I often comment on Labour policy and its senior politicians when I think they are wrong; my blog is full of examples of this, and my forthcoming book focuses a lot on why and how the rank and file of the Labour party should seek to influence its leadership as it sees fit.
That is healthy for the Labour party, and I think Ed Miliband, if he were at all interested in how I described him a month ago, would appreciate that the language I used was simply reflective of that healthy internal debate, which went on within the party throughout the leadership campaign, and which will continue as we develop in opposition.
For this is the crux of the matter: how to develop without disintegrating, how to renew without rejecting everything that goes before, how to be true to oneself and yet at the same time useful to a greater cause – how to hold on to one’s voice and yet offer the comfort to others that a sincerely felt loyalty endows.
Loyalty means nothing if it is blind. That’s why, however imperfectly, I count myself as a member of the progressive side of British politics. We may criticise each other too often – but at least we reserve the right to do so.