It’s no surprise that it was a comedian, Russell Brand, who, rather magnificently, kicked off a discussion about voting. Some of the best-informed, most passionate thinkers are comedians. The thing that surprises me is not that Westminster politics are found to be boring, but rather that so many journalists find them so interesting. But that doesn’t mean parliament is irrelevant. It’s there to be used, like the courts, the media, the internet and the streets.
I doubt that any of the excitement about the more radical musings of Ed Miliband is justified. But I would still like to see him in Downing Street, if only to see the back of the current occupant. I will probably vote Green, or for Left Unity if they stand. I’m in a safe Labour seat, so there’s no risk of my putting a Tory or Lib Dem in. It’s a luxury, I know.
I think the election of a Labour government would give encouragement to genuine radicals, or at least not inhibit them. It won’t be 1997. Labour can only scrape in, with no euphoria and no blind faith in magical electability. Voting for a party doesn’t mean you have to cheer them on while they do things you were condemning a few months earlier, as New Labour’s craven supporters did until they were forced to concede that the chaos and slaughter their leader brought to Iraq was perhaps a step too far.
But if you don’t want to vote, fine; do something else. We need nonviolent direct action. We also need riots. We need lawyers, loud-mouths and dull academics. We need writers, artists, goths and vandals. We need boycotts, strikes and political theatre, however bad. We need reformists and revolutionaries. We need socialists, greens, anarchists, comedians, atheists, theists, poets and statisticians. And if you want a spiritual awakening, have one.
Land, Labour, Liberty ● This land is our land ● The crisis of conservatism ● Television and class ● The case for BBC reform ● The great British land sale ● The English radical tradition ● The World Transformed ● Book reviews ● and much more
And you choose how much to pay for your subscription...
Even worse than failing to win office would be winning it while unprepared for the realities of government. Christine Berry considers what Labour needs to do to avoid the fate of Syriza in Greece
Red Pepper’s picks of The World Transformed festival, in Brighton from 21-24 September
Winning elections is not enough. To transform society we need to involve the people in policy making, argue Kerem Dikerdem and Annie Quick
Chloe Tomlinson lays out the battle lines for a more egalitarian, democratic and holistic education system. Essential reading ahead of The World Transformed education sessions
As the relaunched Tribune prepares its second issue, Hilary Wainwright assesses the history of the paper and the left Labour MPs who rallied around it – and the lessons it offers today’s Labour left
As anti-Corbyn Labour MPs kick up a fuss in the press about possible reselections, Hilary Wainwright looks back at the strikingly similar alarm in the parliamentary establishment in the 1970s and 1980s