I am a socialist. Granted I've not stood on a stall on a high street recently and given out newspapers, so it might be hard for you to see. I did spend the last five years of my life creating services for victims of domestic violence, vulnerable abused kids, workers trafficked for labour, sex and servitude. I'll give you the fact that my nuclear war petition signature hit rate is woeful. But I did help to save, protect and empower thousands and thousands of lives, in this country and elsewhere.
I am a very proud socialist. Second to Brummy it is my proudest label, even before feminist (I think the two are linked although sometimes I look around and wonder). In the 80s, with my mom and dad, I did give out those papers. Our CND signature hit rate was a powerful force to be reckoned with. You name it, we marched it. My cupboards are stuffed with political cartoons and letters from Tony Benn, thanking us. This is the war I want. As my husband so eloquently once said "I'd nationalise your mom". But I am here now, still fighting, but now I've learnt we only win when we fight the war we have not the war we want.
Last night I was on Newsnight. I really liked Katie Razzall, who made the programme. She did a good job. She showed me as I am. If only the whole show had been my interview, people would have seen all of what I said. Alas Ms Razzall probably realised the nation is not ready (read not interested) in 30 minutes of me. I said I agreed with loads of what Jeremy Corbyn said, but I don't think that he will win in Nuneaton and Sherwood. I said that the new affiliate members had swung the Yardley nomination for Corbyn - it wasn't a criticism. What you didn't see was the bit where I said that we invited affiliates to vote in our CLP nomination after a democratic vote. We didn't have to, but we didn't want to exclude.
Katie also asked me if I was weeding people out of voting. I said no, even though £3 affiliates have joined in my CLP who campaigned for the Lib Dems just three months ago, told people not to vote for me, and wished Labour hadn't won. I think I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, and say they have had a change of heart. If they want to join me in the Labour Party I'd love to have them.
I didn't say Corbyn supporters weren't normal. Perhaps I chose my words unwisely. I meant that while the selectorate talk to me about him a lot on social media, the "normal" people (the electorate) I meet every week in Yardley while campaigning don't ever mention Corbyn, or any other candidate for that matter. When asked if Corbyn had the support of young people because he was radical and inspiring change I said yes, he was. But to me he doesn't look radically different from the Labour Party I have known all my life. He looks and sounds like my dad, who I am very fond of as you might imagine. My dad is a natural Corbyn supporter, my brother too, granted they might not be everyone's idea of normal but they seem it to me.
Back to those five years of me striving to save lives. Every time I found money from a business, or the lottery to replace a once state funded service, my dad would lecture me on its immorality. "The lottery is a poor man's tax you know?" He's right of course. Refuge and rape crisis services should be funded by the state. But being right doesn't make it so. So I could choose to go to bed at night and feel smug that I'd stuck to my socialist principles and helped no one. Or I could take the money and keep women and children safe in their beds instead.
I campaigned publicly and fervently against the privatisation of probation. But I still developed specialist women's services for female offenders who had been abused, tortured, raped and exploited. I stopped vulnerable women being sent to prison for things like their kids truanting. And I took contracts from the new private providers to do it. Hypocrisy... perhaps. I call it pragmatism, because I would rather a specialist charity looked after those women than G4S.
This week I visited Yarl's Wood. Yes I want it shut, yes I think it is failing trafficked and abused women. But if I could find funding to send specialist caring support staff in their to help people I would do it in a bloody heartbeat. I know some don't agree but I would always rather make a change than make a stand.
I'm sorry if people think that I'm not supporting Corbyn because I am a Tory. I've worked til my fingers bled helping people who needed it. I'm sorry if I don't see the same radical change in Jeremy Corbyn others do. If Jeremy Corbyn wins I will support him completely. I will work with him. I'll do whatever I can to help Labour win in Yardley, in Somerset, in Portsmouth and Glasgow. Because I might not have supported his candidacy but, as I have said, I'm an optimistic pragmatist.