I’m a liberal (small ‘l’). Some factions of the media would have you believe that to be a dirty word (bleeding-hearts, liberal snowflakes, loony left…yawn), but i am proud to passionately believe in social justice and compassion. I believe that we can (and should, and will, actually!) create a society that is built on looking out for, and taking care of, one another.
If you scoffed when you read that, maybe its cos we currently have a culture that adopted Darwinism and took the concepts of ‘competition’ and ‘survival of the fittest’, without the context of co-operation Darwin also conveyed.
In The Descent of Man, Darwin wrote twice of ‘survival of the fittest’, more than ninety times about love, more than ninety times about morality, and a lot more about how humans have evolved to empathise and rationalise. He understood that these traits lead to cooperation, and cooperation is how we survive and progress as individuals and as a species.
I know lots of people think politics doesn’t effect them, or that it is something that happens far away, something that is done by others, to others. It is to you that i write this (bit pointless i know, cos you probably scrolled at the sight of the blog tagline, but if you made it this far, i salute you, thank you!).
I know exactly how you feel, because until relatively recently, i felt exactly like you.
When I was barely a teenager, my best friend and I were so excited by the 1997 General Election. We didn’t know much, just enough to know we wanted the Tories out. We had been caught up in the New-Labour Blair buzz, and for the first time ever it seemed possible. I’m not convinced that at the time I knew what ‘it’ was, but the mood was optimistic, we had the kind of hope that only the young can, and all of our idols (Manic Street Preachers and Eddie Izzard are the 2 that come easiest to my memory) seemed to confirm our suspicions that a Labour government offered the best chance of obtaining whatever ‘it’ was.
We were too young to vote, but we must have wanted to be involved because we took a stroll down to the local polling station to harass people into voting Labour I’d never do that now, we were kids and we didn’t understand discretion.
We were so hopeful. We didn’t know what socialism was, but we were socialists (the adult me must pigeon-hole us!). We wrongly believed Blair to be our man.
As an adult, I sort of felt a bit cheated. I had been tricked. I don’t think I could ever describe myself as apathetic, but there have been times I haven’t voted since, and even advocated for not voting, because i did not want to take part in what I saw as the illusion of democracy. The charade of a choice, when there wasn’t one. Why should I vote, when there was no-one to represent me?
Bill Hicks said something about the same bloke holding all the sock puppets, someone else (Carlin?) said something about if voting changed anything, they wouldn’t let us do it… thats how i felt. I wasn’t represented. Democracy was an illusion and by voting, i would help validate it. I didn’t want to do that, so i didn’t vote.
Until a few years ago, when i voted Green, still without any real expectation of it making any difference, but just cos i like some of their policies and Vix Lowthion (our local Green candidate) is clearly very dedicated to the island, so, i reasoned that some voice (albeit a whisper) was better than none.
And then Jeremy Corbyn became the Labour Party leader, despite every effort by the establishment to prevent him, and gave me a manifesto, a vision for this country and for the world, that truly resonates with me, and now i cannot shut up about it. Because finally! Finally we have a person to vote for who gives a fuck about the people he represents.
Jeremy Corbyn has changed my world view. I believe he is truly a good man who cares about ‘ordinary’ people. I never thought such a person would ever even get close to power, and he has proved me very wrong. He is not perfect, but he is a man of principles and integrity. His voting record, for me, demonstrates that he has always been true to his values and on the right side of history. He has been one of the most dissident voices in the House of Commons as a backbencher, voting against his own party many times. Voting for what he believed to be right for his constituents, who have consequently re-elected him for many decades. I never thought for a second that such a man would be a candidate for PM in a general election.
The very fact that we have the option to vote for someone like that today (in spite of a very obvious multi-million-pound campaign by those invested in maintaining the status quo to prevent it) seems revolutionary to me.
I am truly concerned. I am concerned about the human rights abuses that are lawfully allowed to happen under our current Conservative government. I am concerned about an ethos that seems to value profit over people and that turns a blind eye to the suffering and injustices that i see inflicted on people like me, whilst protecting the interests of a very select few. Grenfell. The inhumane treatment of diabled people. Royal mail pensions. The covert privatisation of our NHS. The public sector pay freeze. Social care cuts. The rise in poverty and homelessness that isnt just on the news (the foodbank in cowes have an emergency appeal for donations at the moment). I could go on and on.
I know its hard to care about those things when most of us are just struggling to manage day to day. There’s barely any time or energy to hope that things could be different. Yet Labour are now giving many people that very hope.
I watched the speeches at the Labour Party conference and in other places too, not just Jezza, but Emily Thornberry , John McDonnell, Laura Piddock, Angela Rayner, Diane Abbott, Dennis Skinner and many others….all of these people share a philosophy firmly rooted in values I believe to be essential to progress. They seek to turn government into what it is truly supposed to be: a place where the interests of the electorate, the people, you and I, are represented. Not seen to be represented, but actually represented.
Despite how much there is to worry about, i feel hopeful. I feel so glad to know that there are people who feel like i do, and that we have a very clear voice now. When they talk about ‘a different kind of politics’, it is the truth.
Don’t misunderstand me, i am not naive enough to think that a Labour government would suddenly solve the worlds problems tomorrow. But if you’re an average, hard working person in this country, the Tories will smile in your face whilst squeezing your bollocks. Maybe its time we tried something different? Maybe its time to remove our nuts from the vice-like grip of better-the-devil-you-know?
We’ve all had the media whispering in our ears for years, and for the last couple, doing their best to manipulate how we perceive Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party, not least because they are owned by the tax avoiders and corporate elite so fiercely protected by our Conservative government. What harm can it do, if you are undecided (or even if you’re not?) to just suspend your preconceptions for a moment and listen to Jeremy speak, or to read the manifesto?
I voted for Jeremy Corbyn because he makes me believe a fairer world is not impossible, a bit like 14 year old me did. I still almost feel like it can’t be happening, this REAL choice we now have. The closest thing I’ve seen resembling true democracy in my lifetime.
I wonder what teenage me would have thought. My childhood friend passed away a few years ago, and we lost touch a few years before that, but times like this I think of her, I’m certain she would have voted for Jezza in the recent election, and I would love to be able to share this feeling with her…this feeling that another way is possible. I think of youth, of how hopeful we were, how ideal it all seemed.
In 2016, I had tried to join the Labour party as an affiliate member to support Jeremy in the leadership re-election, putting my money where my mouth was and paying the £25 fee.
It may surprise you to know that i was reluctant to join the party. It may surprise you even more to know that i don’t naturally feel happy or confident about sticking my head above the parapet. Its better when someone else does. I’m a bit nervous cos this blog is far more revealing personally than im comfortable with on a public forum. But i feel like this is a really important time politically, and I feel like i cannot be silent because im lucky enough to not be (too badly) effected (yet). Plus, i’ll be lucky if 3 people even read it, so its not so bad.
I had been reluctant to join any political party because there’s something I just don’t like about being officially tied to any one set of ideas. But I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if this golden opportunity (as I saw it) to have this real advocate for real people as the leader of the opposition (and therefore potentially the PM), was lost because people like me didn’t get off our arses and vote for him.
I was pissed off too, at the affront of it: at Labour changing the rules because they didn’t like who had been democratically elected, and at the idea too, that an anti-Labour faction had paid the membership fee to vote for Jeremy purely because they felt that his leadership would be a nail in the coffin for Labour. I wondered if a £25 fee made democracy a commodity some people couldn’t afford,
£25 is a lot to me at the moment, and i genuinely had to really consider it. I thought back to a time when i was a single parent and even considering paying £25 for something like this would have been unthinkable. I thought of people still stuck in that situation (and 10 times worse)…the very people likely to benefit from a Prime Minister like Jeremy Corbyn. I decided that I owed it to them to pay up and vote, because I am lucky enough to be in a position now when I can consider a £25 charge to partake in democracy. For the record, I even had a friend (with a phd, no less! Smart people back Corbyn!) offer to pay my membership fee, because she felt as strongly as I did that Jeremy is the best person to lead our country. Thankfully I did not need to accept, but still think of the offer with gratitude. I hope others not in a position to choose not to accept such an offer, are fortunate enough to have a friend like mine.
I submitted my details and received an email from the Labour party, saying my application had been received, I did not have to do anything further and I would receive my ballot in due course.
It didn’t come, and when I contacted the party to ask, there had been some administration issue. My application had not gone through, no one had informed me, and the date to join to be eligible to vote had passed.
At the time, there were stories on the internet of applications being rejected because people had previously made posts on social media backing the Green Party, among other things (I don’t know how true this is). Given my aforementioned suspicion of the establishment and our democracy, and the hostility shown toward Jeremy by the MSM (main stream media) and some elements of his own party, I don’t think it was unreasonable of me to wonder if I had somehow got caught up in it.
Anyway, thank fuck it didn’t matter cos Jeremy did not need my vote to be rightfully re-elected as leader.
A year or so later, when Jeremy and Labour did so well in the 2017 general election, I really felt like I wanted to thank him. If that sounds naive, I don’t care. I felt grateful for the hope the Labour party under his leadership has given me, and i was in awe of how he managed to stand strong in the face of such a shit-storm of smear and lies and bias (strong and stable. Maybot take note). I wish i had more of that resilience. I think it’s remarkable and I really admire it.
For the last couple of years, I have been ridiculed as a Corbyn supporter, and many years before that as somebody with compassionate socialist views, I have been on the receiving end of more than the odd raised eye-brow. I have debated with people who, when questioned, don’t seem to know why they are against Corbyn, and yet have the audacity to suggest that I blindly follow an idea because I am young. Being nearly 35, I always take this as a compliment.
When Labour did as well as they did in the 2017 GE, people like me were vindicated. We aren’t liberal snowflakes (and if we are, winter is coming), we aren’t the loony left, and its not irrational to believe in a society where people take care of each other. Those people that ridiculed us aren’t laughing now. They are generally quiet, or angry, or both.
I am reminded of the Gandhi quote:
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
Once again, I wanted to support Corbyn and the vision the Labour party is now fighting for, so I joined up (no problems this time), and now I’m a fully fledged, card-carrying member. Still feels a bit weird, but generally, it’s an action that has lead to lots of good things.
I thought that would be it. I was wrong.
Gandhi wise, I reckon we’re on stage 3, and now we must fight for the kind of country, and world, we want our kids to grow up in.
Finally, we have the man. All we have to do is vote for him.