Friends and family ask me why I keep going with politics and if I enjoy the constant wrangling week after week. This makes me think we must work harder on what we can offer.
There is no doubt if you are a Labour Party supporter or activist there are days you think what now or what next. It would be pointless to deny it.
Issues like anti-semitism must be rooted out and spoken about openly in politics, in the Labour Party and across the wider community. This is essential and it is right that it is highlighted and given appropriate coverage.
The reports of splits, fallouts, factions and argumentative tweets drag us all down and we know without paying for so-called expert advice on it that it must, and in my experience does, turn voters off and away from politics.
In Scotland it feels like this has been happening for a lifetime. Whether you believe it is the fallout of a divisive referendum or a result of inequality in society, the reporting of party politics has very much felt like a run down of who likes who and which faction or party pundit has tweeted first.
How can this be I ask? We live with a Tory government in Westminster starving the population of public money and resources and with an SNP government in Hollyrood hell-bent on independence being the only answer to any of Scotland’s problems. They have no vision other than independence for independence’s sake.
We live in an era where child poverty is increasing, inequality accelerating, record employment figures are being used as a way of hiding exploitative zero-hours contracts. An era where more and more people sleep on the streets and kids have their life mapped out according to the postcode they are born into.
Yes, we have history to be proud of in the labour movement, the NHS, the welfare state, workers’ rights. But what do the wranglings of today give the people we seek to represent? Does it feel to the electorate that instead of fighting for justice we fight amongst ourselves or do we offer them more than that?
I feel more heartened when I think of my political activities on the ground this week. A week where I attend an area activists’ meeting on fighting for the NHS, when I read a Morning Star article on trade union history helping to engage and recruit more young people to the movement and when I read on social media that a group of local people are uniting together to campaign against local budget cuts.
Of course high profile issues like Brexit will be played out in the public eye in a media frenzy, but we as activists have a responsibility to continue to break through with campaigns about everyday life, about changing the bits we can even when the world seems to be paralysed by these big single issues.
My enthusiasm for the Labour Party has not been weakened by the antics of breakaway MPs. I don’t believe that voting for Corbyn and Leonard means I am a hardcore lefty, nor do I believe that all other activists in the party who didn’t vote for them are Blairite right wingers — but I do believe that the membership voted for Corbyn and Leonard to drive forward the Labour Party policies delivered at conference and I do believe that party democracy, which has been enhanced by their actions, is a good thing.
Across the UK we see a closer relationship with the trade unions and an increase in Labour Party membership and in Scotland we have a Scottish Labour Party leader prepared to speak out and offer bold, forward thinking policies.
Richard Leonard’s lead on industrial strategy is one I have championed before. It is a brilliant example of his innovative thinking. His work on an investment bank is creative and bold and makes proper investment in communities a possibility. Richard’s politics and approach has opened up an opportunity to speak to voters about everyday matters.
Richard has stated this week that “Scottish Labour are rebuilding on the basis of popular, common sense policies that focus on the real change that Scotland needs.” Richard is correct this is the important work we as activists must relentlessly pursue, take to the voters and ask them to judge us on.
I have said many times to friends: “Don’t find the media’s Labour Party. Come and find the Scottish Labour Party that I know.”
Richard Leonard is a credible leader of a proud party. I know many of the people in his office and wider circle of support. They are decent hard-working, lifelong members of the labour movement. They, like me, want to see a fairer society with equality at its core. A Scotland for the many not for the few. Richard and his team are a serious, forward thinking, credible force and I say to the voters on the doorstep: come on in and find the Labour Party that I know.
Carol Mochan is the Labour council candidate for Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock.