New Year’s Eve. The one night every year when being alone at midnight is universally deemed to be tragic. When the Bridget Jones’s of this world reflect on their lives of quiet desperation, and then go home.
Unless of course, you are homeless, when a kiss is the last thing on your mind. You are facing another year under Tory rule. And while you have just about made it through the cruel irony of Christmas Day, we are in the bleak mid-winter now and those who discover their hearts at this time of year will soon forget you exist once again.
We are six months on from launching The Labour Campaign to End Homelessness and we are now in a position to start organising significantly on the streets. On New Year’s Eve, teams of Labour members will be out across London to hand out supplies to rough sleepers. If you can lend a hand even for half an hour, please contact me at email@example.com
We have been inundated with offers of help from comrades across London, and more than that, we have been contacted by Labour members eager to get involved in every corner of the United Kingdom. Really. So next year, we will be rolling this campaign out nationally, officially affiliating with the Labour Party and harnessing the frustration of 400,000 Labour members to help those most in need – the homeless.
The temptation when we started this campaign was to turn it into a talking shop or a think tank. But that won’t do. Half of our mission is to lobby the Labour Party to commit to ending homelessness, but with Labour out of power until at least 2020, what the homeless need now are not words – they need action.
Soaring homelessness is the ugliest symbol of what our country has become after five years of Austerity. It is the most malicious human cost of a government driven mad by Neo-Liberal dogma. It is the malignant wart on the dead hand of the free market – weeping daily while the Tories hope it will simply fall away. But it won’t.
When I saw an article shortly before Christmas in which the Prime Minister extolled his own Christian values, I nearly choked with rage. The old Tory Party – with paternalism at its core – would have been appalled by the current government’s flagrant disregard for those who need its power the most.
The old Tory Party – whether led by David Cameron’s hero, Harold Macmillan, or the Whiggish Winston Churchill – would have been repulsed by a government which is not only disinterested in, but positively contemptuous of, those thousands queuing at food banks, the working families struggling without tax credits and the freezing, starving, frightened rough sleepers who are running out of hope and time.
This strain of Tories are Thatcher’s children and they must be dragged kicking and screaming from office by a revived Labour Movement. And so we are calling on Labour women and men of goodwill from across this country. We are calling on them to stand in solidarity with the people depend on the Labour Movement.
We are calling on them to stand with the homeless as previous generations of Labour people have stood with the miners, with the women’s movement, with the gay rights movement, with the anti-fascists, with the unemployed, with the underpaid, with the racially abused and all those who need our party – the greatest force for social justice in our long island history.
We begin on New Year’s Eve in London, but there is no limit to what we can achieve together. And yet our mission is simple: to end homelessness.
So if you are with us on New Year’s Eve and a rough sleeper looks up at you and asks who you are, tell them: “We are the Labour Party.”
See you on the streets.