I’ve just joined the Labour party and I’ve lived in your constituency all my life. For all 21 years of that life I have regarded the Labour party as underwhelming, politically cautious if not malevolent, and never knowingly representative of my concerns.
Tony Blair’s first term contained many much-needed progressive reforms, but after Iraq and various significant nods to increased outsourcing and privatisation I was prepared to regard him as a political opponent.
The arrival of Jeremy Corbyn as leader has, ultimately, changed everything for me, and many of my friends – in fact, basically everyone on my Facebook – feel a similar way.
I have friends in their 30s who have never voted and are joining Labour this week. Why this week? Because this man is the one reason we ever took any interest in the Labour party and he is under attack. I am not unionised, my family has no history with Labour – but I know what I want, and Corbyn has come far closer to that than anyone else.
What do I want? Let me put it this way:
Before the 2008 crash it felt like politicians were mostly doing the right things for the wrong reasons, but pretending to do them for the right reasons. Since 2008, and since austerity, politicians have had to do the wrong things, and naturally for the wrong reasons, while also pretending they were the right things to do all along. When Corbyn talks about supporting migrants he doesn’t do it for expediency, he does it because he cares. He knows our economy will struggle to restructure to accommodate climate change and increased migration – but he knows that that restructuring is necessary, both morally and because it will make the world a better place, not just Britain. Mere tolerance will just as happily look away in the face of cruelty and oppression – that’s not my politics, and I hope it isn’t yours either.
On that note, I know you’ve not always been one of Jeremy’s allies – but I’m peacefully asking that you get behind him now. He’s no Obama, and I’m not trying to persuade you he’ll be an easy sell to the wider electorate – he won’t be. But in a divided Britain facing a constitutional crisis in the wake of an economic crisis there are no viable moderate candidates – moderation hasn’t been attractive since the last time your party won. I hope you’ve noticed that.
The party I’ve just joined is divided in two: one side is popular, hopeful and full of energy; the other side does the wrong things for the wrong reasons. Which side are you on?
Photo: Tom Page