Regular readers of this blog will know that its author has a fairly low opinion of members of the British parliament. The sad truth is that most MPs are- let's not beat about the bush- careerist creeps, who pursue their own interests and not those they are supposed to represent. There are however one or two exceptions. Bob Wareing (above) the Labour MP for West Derby is one of them. I met Bob for the first time at a Houses of Parliament meeting to commemorate the anniversary of the illegal NATO aggression against Yugoslavia.
Bob not only opposed that illegal war, but also the similarly unlawful attack on Iraq four years later.
Listening to Bob reminded me why I once joined the Labour Party. A principled opponent of military aggression and a life-long socialist, Bob supports public ownership, the redistribution of wealth and strongly opposes everything that the 'New Labour' neo-liberals stand for.
And in common with the author of this blog, Bob believes that a moderately conservative stance on social issues, far from being inconsistent with socialism, actually complements it. For Bob, socialism is not defined by support for reducing the homosexual age of consent, or for making divorce and abortion easier; but by one's position on public ownership and redistributive economic reforms.
Bob's social conservatism derives from his background. He is a member of a dying breed-the geniunely working-class Member of Parliament. The son of a Liverpool lorry driver, Bob was educated at council school, before taking an economics degree, extramurally at London University.
This weekend Bob showed once again how in touch he is with public opinion with his attacks on Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's ludicrous idea to create a network of "drop-off ones" for people to hand in illegal firearms, in the aftermath of the horrific murder of 11-year-old Rhys Jones, whose family live in Bob's constituency.
"Does she honestly believe the people capable of perpetrating this terrible crime are going to hand over their guns? Of course they're not. We need far more resources for the police. If you walk around Croxteth you will hardly see a policeman. We need to see them on the ground because we have got to crush this gang culture",Bob said.
Bob went on to call for new curbs on violent films that glorify gang culture- and said that Conservative leader David Cameron was right to focus on the need to tackle Britain's broken society. Contrast Bob's comments with those from the New Labour hierarchy- and from the party's middle class apologists in the media, who have been telling us all week that rising violent crime is a figment of the tabloids' imagination.
The Labour party used to be full of people like Bob Wareing. Working-class, decent and most importantly of all, in touch with the views and opinions of those they were supposed to represent.
It isn't anymore.
Which is why I am no longer a member.