For the first time in my adult life I will not be voting in this general election. Hell, what a headline. But hold on, this is nothing to do with my well-known views about the Corbyn project. Rather, it is the result of an arcane part of Britain’s historic, political and outdated constitution that bars members of the House of Lords from this vote.
For the absence of doubt, I would if I could be voting Labour and I urge every progressive, whatever their doubts, to do the same. In fact I would go further. This election is not about Jeremy Corbyn or those around him, and it is not about Brexit. The truth is that we are fighting to maintain a functioning democracy in which all the levers of power do not rest in the hands of those commanding wealth and privilege.
That is why winning every single vote for Labour, and returning decent, hardworking Labour MPs and aspirant candidates to Westminster takes precedence over any differences we have and any doubts. We have an obligation to ensure that Labour candidates succeed, and to avoid the accusation after the election that somehow the modernisers and those disparaged as “Blairites” were responsible for anything short of victory.
The Conservatives have made their position clear. They seek complete hegemony in which difference of thought and the challenge of normal democratic counterweight to the establishment will not be tolerated. Dissent within parliament, never mind across our major institutions, nations and regions, is unacceptable. What they seek, to coin a phrase from a one-nation Tory, the late Lord Hailsham, is an “elective dictatorship”.
But, our opponents will say, wasn’t there a Labour landslide 20 years ago and didn’t Labour seek political predominance? Here, Corbyn’s speech on Thursday is highly relevant. In his own inimitable way he described how the wealthy benefit from a Tory victory and that it is Labour that represents the interests of the many, not the few.
Hence the largest possible number of Labour MPs returned in June is vital for our democratic health – but, win or lose, also for the future of the Labour party itself. We owe it to our existing MPs, who have given their all through thick and thin, but above all we owe it to the people we seek to serve who do not deserve a rampant rightwing Conservative party renewed and reinvigorated and without a credible opposition. We fight to win but we also, over the next seven weeks, battle to maintain the very heart of Labour.
Of course, this involves the current leadership in accepting the tremendous burden of conducting the campaign with credibility and professionalism. No making up policy on the hoof or putting people up for radio or television interviews who cannot string two words together, which, regrettably, has already been the case in the last few days.
This is not simply about the conduct of Labour’s campaign but about those who proclaim their progressive credentials and call for a unified approach, and then act with their usual sectarianism. The Greens are a classic example. Calling for an anti-Conservative united front and then running candidates with the clear intention of undermining the chance of Labour holding key seats. Take Cambridge, with a major Tory attack on a marginal Labour seat that at the last general election saw more than 4,000 votes go to the Greens. They cannot win, but they can destroy the chances of existing excellent Labour MPs.
Another example is the Labour marginal of Hove, where the Lib Dem vote collapsed in 2015 but where the Greens came third with 3,500 votes. Again, they cannot win, but they could help Labour to lose.
Why, for instance, would the former leader of the Greens be standing against the highly respected Labour MP for Sheffield Central, if it were for no other reason than sectarian self-indulgence?
So when it comes to difficult choices and the stark reality of who runs this country, and in whose interests, for all those of good intentions and with a conscience about the choices which have been made about investment in our public services and the wellbeing of the hardworking, undervalued and underpaid majority of the population, there can be only one way to vote on 8 June.
David Blunkett is a former Labour home secretary. He entered the House of Lords in September 2015
The Conservatives seek complete hegemony in which difference of thought will not be tolerated