Why does Labour Coast and Country matter for me – and my local friends here in Sussex by the Sea? Well, the name is the clue – it is relevant to where we live. But why do people like us in places like this need another organisation?
Let me explain my personal viewpoint. I am a late convert to progressive politics and activism. A long career in industry encourages a too-ready acceptance of capitalist values, even despite a long interest in moral philosophy and marriage to a lefty. The Iraq war lit a flame of anti-Establishment; the hypocrisy of the LibDems made them intolerable; and the callousness of the Tories created the determination to support principled politics. But how? I live in an artificial constituency: one not geographically cohesive, with no epicentre for its collection of small towns and villages. It is rural, agricultural and a lovely place to live, albeit we are surrounded by thousands of Tories and [U]Kippers. Labour has no chance of winning a seat at any local or national election. We have just 200 members in the whole constituency and a CLP barely able to function, let alone able to expand. So how can Labour supporters, people who care about society as opposed to just themselves, have their voice?
First, we have found and bonded with fellow members locally who feel similarly isolated. We formed a discussion group through which to give vent to our passions and articulate reasoned policy thoughts. Second, we have looked for a way in which our small number can become more meaningful, by linking with other like-minded minorities nearby or further afield. In Labour, Coast and Country we found the potential means for this – if only it has the means to develop. By connecting digitally with other rural and seaside groups and individuals who have similar political and economic issues, we hope to create the critical mass which will demand attention to these issues. This alone will reduce our sense of isolation and increase a sense of value to the Party. We are already seeing this in our local networking with neighbouring CLPs, with whom we are collaborating in fund-raising events, to get the excellent Nancy Platts elected as MP for Brighton Kemptown – Labour, Country supporting Labour Coast.