According to twitter one of the items that has excited the Sun newspaper today is a critique of the Labour Party by the wife of one of its MPs, that the party has been “hijacked by middle class do gooders & career politicians who’ve no idea what it’s like to be working class!” The social class issue is clearly a challenging one and whilst I would not want to dismiss its importance it is certainly beyond my ability to resolve in a 500 word blog. However the idea that career politicians have found their home in a political party cannot be a surprise to many people. There is a clear need for all of our political parties to change and if they refuse to do so, then change will ultimately be forced upon them, or they will be overtaken by other organisations and structures that are better placed to do the job that the parties were set up to achieve. A few days ago I received a message from someone who lives in Cambodia. He explained that the political structures in Cambodia are being changed by NGOs or charities who have begun to replace the corrupt political groupings. Perhaps there is a message there for our Political Parties?
My real concern about the tweet that is doing the rounds is that do-gooders are seen in a pejorative sense by a woman who is a Labour Party member, a Councillor and the wife of an MP. She is not alone, I have personally been criticised as being a do-gooder and whilst I understand what these criticisms mean, I think it is time for us to redeem the idea of doing good, even in the minds of Politicians and political commentators such as the author of the tweet and the Sun Newspaper. The New Year is a mere 3 days old and we are being plunged into a myriad of debates by people who in May want us to vote for them. We know that in the last 6 months 500,000 people used foodbanks. Foodbanks don’t set themselves up, most of the food doesn’t get donated by faceless institutions, it gets donated by people who are prepared to do good in their communities. Last night 3 people went out into Brighton & Hove dressed up in Street Pastor uniforms to help people whose alcohol consumption had exceeded their bodies capacity to process it. It was when I was setting up the Street Pastors that I was criticised for being a do-gooder. However the work of Street Pastors or Foodbanks or the myriad of other charities that operate on the basis of the good that people do are too important for their work to be diminished by idiotic comments. Not all voluntary activity is necessary or even helpful. However before we address some of the work that is perhaps not doing as much good as it should, lets ensure the national debate does not become a place of abuse for those who give up their time to help others.