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Why I joined the Socialist Party
"After seeing the branch's effect in the community, I decided to join"
Lee Armstrong, Waltham Forest Socialist Party
"I'm a product of New Labour, mate!" I remember proudly, maybe viciously, informing a fellow first year student in 2009.
He was a pedigree conservative, fresh out of the shire and had clearly misjudged his recently acquainted course mate, me. Confused, he waffled an apology and skulked off to find Orlando, who he knew he'd be on safer ground with.
I'm from Newcastle, born in 1989 with one of my earliest memories being of my mam celebrating Gordon Brown's first budget because he "did something good for pensions that would help out nana".
In 2017 I look back on both these moments and think how much mine and the world's perspective has changed. New Labour's legacy, built on the foundation of Thatcher's free market society, is rotting at the roots.
Many of society's problems today come from this unleashing of the free market. The deregulation and empowering of the financial centre has resulted in an eleven year depression and a City of London-centric economy.
Instead of building council houses (or any houses) we have a generation locked in the private renting market. Our schools have been turned into businesses - and not very successful ones.
New Labour, started the privatisation of the NHS, further weakened the power of trade unions, hiked up student fees... I could continue.
The 1990s saw a period of boom in the West and New Labour filled me with an incredible optimism for the future but if I'd considered capitalism's history, I'd have seen what was to come. In the last 200 years capitalism has caused in Britain alone five major depressions.
Karl Marx reveals a lot about the structure of capitalism and predicted so much about our present-day lives. He acknowledged that capitalism was needed to drive the development of technology to a time in which society no longer needed to exploit workers' labour to prosper.
And as the Bank of England recently warned that in the next decade 50% of the UK work force will be replaced by technology, another of Marx's observations seems to have been proven true.
At first I was sceptical of the Socialist Party, and went to a meeting after gentle persuasion from a friend. But I was shocked and humbled, after meeting a group of people who gave up their spare time after work, organising the working class and supporting the vulnerable.
I witnessed how action was better for my local community, more than sharing news articles on Facebook, or hoping Parliament's gears would turn into action from signing an online petition. After seeing the local branch in Waltham Forest's positive effects within its local community, I decided to join.
And came to an obvious realisation that it's better to try and make the world a better place, even in the tiniest way, than to continue sitting in a pub expressing misery.
In The Socialist 22 March 2017:
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