the Disillusioned kid: Simpy-thetic
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Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Alan Simpson MP represents the area in Nottingham where I live and regularly speaks at political meetings in the city and further afield. As such, I've seen him talk more times than I care to remember, including a at several events I've been involved in organising, and spoken to him personally several times. While I agree with him on many issues, find him an affable chap and consider him an excellent public speaker (infinitely better than Broxtowe MP Nick Palmer with whom I once saw him share a platform), we do have a number of political disagreements, although his decision to stand down as a Labour MP suggests we've now got one less.

For years his big thing has been the need for progressives within the party to reassert control from the Blairites, warmongerers and neoliberals. In the run-up to the war, while party members were leaving in droves in protest against Blair's commitment to military action, he called on people not to do so. Subsequently, the line shifted to a call for people of a progressive persuasion to join the party in order to influence the forthcoming leadership campaign. For sometime I assumed - cynically, I admit - he was maneuvering himself for those elections, but if he ever had any such ambitions, he's clearly given up on them.

According to the Beeb, in a letter to constituency party members he explained that concern about the environment was central to his motivation and asserted that "he would be more effective campaigning for radical environmental change outside parliament, rather than remaining on the back benches." This, broadly correlates with my own perspective on electoral politics. It is my opinion, as I may have mentioned before, that change always originates outside Houses of Commons, forcing its way onto the Parliamentary agenda regardless of who our soi-disant representatives are, once the groups pursuing it become influential enough.

Simpson continues, "There are good people in the Parliamentary Labour Party but not enough of them. At times, I feel that colleagues would vote for the slaughter of the first born if asked to." They certainly don't appear to have been particularly troubled by the human cost of the invasion of Iraq. Which, as a friend noted, raises the question of whether there might not have been a time when his resignation might have exerted greater influence. Timing aside, I'm glad he's finally seen sense and look forward to working with him in the future.

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