What price loyalty?

16th April, 2012 2:30 pm

“There’s only one thing I value and that’s loyalty. And without it, you’re nothing.”

Film fanatics like myself will recognise that quote from The Ides of March. For those who haven’t seen it, I’ll give you a brief summary of the context.

During the Democrat primaries, Governor Mike Morris is leading in the polls. But after a flattering phone call, his media spokesperson Stephen Myers meets up with Tom Duffy, who wants him to work for Morris’ rival. As soon as Morris’ chief of staff Paul Zara finds out, he promptly sacks him.

Without loyalty, he says, you are nothing. Loyalty is a valuable but necessary commodity in politics. I thought of Zara’s outburst this week when I saw a chart that showed how many Labour supporters and – more startlingly – party members, who have decided not to support Ken Livingstone.

Some people in the party think their views about Ken Livingstone are really important. So important, in fact, that they are quite prepared to barge our candidate out of the way and let Boris slide back into City Hall, as if that’s the lesser of two evils.

Think about that for a moment.

Nobody joins the Labour Party because they agree with all of our policies, like all of our candidates, or because a rose happens to be their favourite flower. It’s neither a fickle nor a superficial decision. Joining a party is like a marriage. It’s a commitment to an institution that you think is the most promising vehicle for the change you want to see in society.

If your marriage isn’t working, flirting with other people, or having an affair, isn’t going to make it work (are you getting the analogy? I hope so). It might make you feel better in the short term, but is never going to solve the problems that drove you into the arms of others in the first place. If anything, it’ll just make those problems worse.

If you’re not happy with the candidates the party selects, then campaign from within the party to change the process for selecting candidates. Or stand yourself. I’m afraid (and I don’t think I’m being unreasonable when I say) that once the candidate has been selected, then it’s a bit late for the moaning.

Get behind Labour or get a divorce. A situation where different factions of the party are campaigning against our own candidates, above all else, looks bloody ridiculous – and we can’t possibly expect anyone to vote for us. The party is more important than the individual, so have a bit of loyalty.

Without it, we are nothing.

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