So, Jeremy Corbyn. I've never been a member of the Labour party, although I've always voted Labour in general elections. And this one was no exception, though they basically had to drag the vote out of me. I wanted to vote Green, because their policies were closest to my heart, but several thoughtful people counselled me otherwise, as this was a marginal Con-Lab seat that Labour could have won. And in the end I went to listen to the candidates, and I liked the Labour candidate the best. I'm sorry she lost and I'm glad I voted for her. I'm sorry Labour lost and I think it's a tragedy for the country. I liked Red Ed, the man and his politics, but I can totally see why many people couldn't see him as prime minister, and it was a pretty wet campaign overall. That stone. That sandwich. That mug. That van. And the whole messaging on the economy. It was there for the losing, with hindsight, and it was lost. And Ed had to go.
My interest in Corbyn was first piqued by Cat Smith, new Labour MP for Lancaster & Fleetwood (I like to think of her as my MP, as my actual MP says nothing to me about my life), who nominated him straight away, boom. And it's just grown from there really. Ten years ago I spent three years working for NGO X's UK Poverty Programme and I learnt a huge amount about poverty and inequality in the UK. It's appalling, and over the last five years it's only got worse, and over the next five, well no prizes for guessing who austerity will bite the hardest. And since I moved back to the north west from the bright shiny Oxford bubble, with its artisanal sourdough, its Mini-driving students, its insane house prices and its, again with hindsight, extraordinary complacency, I've seen a lot more of that biting happening around me.
And you know, #poorlivesmatter. Of course you know, you're my friends, you're not dicks. But it's easy to forget, when you're not living it and neither is anyone you know*. I'm ashamed of what this government is doing to people who were barely able to cope *before* this ideology-driven onslaught. There are plenty of economists arguing that there's nothing necessary, or inevitable, about austerity. It's a political choice, and we need to be putting forward better choices, ones that people who can see past the end of their own noses (and that's fucking loads of us, right) can, and will, vote for.
And that's where Mr Corbyn has come in. Everything he's said on austerity, I've been 'why hasn't the Labour party been saying this all along?'. How on earth did the shadow Cabinet come not to vote against the Welfare Bill? What sort of bullshit opposition is abstention? Jesus.
So there's that. And then the renationalisation of the railways, which is such an eye-wateringly obvious thing to do I would put it on the Jo Stone. And the buses. The way we run the buses in this country, outside London, is FUBAR. Come ON. It's 2015. We can do better.
And then there's housing. You don't have to be a Marxist to know that the glorious free market will never, ever, deliver decent affordable housing to people in low paid jobs. Never has, anywhere on earth, never will. And when I stop to think about it, which is often (this being one of the things that *did* affect a lot of people in Oxford, and affects Morecambe in a totally different way) it makes me HOPPING SPITTING MAD that all that lovely housing benefit, which is public money raised by taxing the securely employed and housed, goes, in many cases, to exploitative dickwads who couldn't give less of a shit about the quality of the housing they are providing to the insecurely employed and housed. Market forces can do one here. Get in the fucking sea.
So Jeremy C is a tick tick tick for me on those things. Other things, I'd say I'm broadly in agreement on the big picture, though clearly more work is needed on a lot of the foreign policy stuff.
But that brings me to the man himself. I love the collaborative process he used to put together his Northern Future manifesto. I love the way he 'doesn't do personal' (something I totally fail at myself). I love the way he's a Marxist and he uses the royal We. He's not in it for the personal glory, and there seems to be a remarkable consensus, even among people who hate his politics, that has him as a decent guy who is doing this because he's the best person to do it right now, and hell, someone's got to.
And yet there's been an immense 'anyone but Jeremy' Labour establishment backlash, culminating this week with the whole 'we want to be a party of government not a party of protest' thing.
Well, here's the other thing, If he wasn't standing, I wouldn't be voting. I have never in my whole little life seen anyone galvanise the young and disaffected like this. All those people who didn't vote. All those people who thought mainstream politics had nothing to offer them. All those people who couldn't make time for getting their vote out because they were too busy being ill / disabled / working three jobs on poverty wages and what was the point anyway? I love to vote, I've said so many times, but I get to participate. I get to matter. I am one fucking lucky individual and if there's a credible politician out there who speaks for and will act for the people who don't have my privilege, then that person gets my vote.
And I don't appreciate the patronising tone of the party grandees and many of the mainstream media commentators with this 'oh you naive things, this man could never win in 2020' line. Really? And the other candidates could? All three of them are basically the same age as me, we have similar-ish lower middle-class public sector backgrounds, we all went to Oxbridge in the era when you could leave university with no debt at all if you drank cider and didn't buy too many books. I should identify with at least one of them. But I don't. They seem to have had a collective charisma bypass, though if you twisted my arm really hard and said I had to go to the pub with one of them, it would be Yvette. Obvs. And if *I* can't warm to them, people I could have read Marxism Today, drunk Newcastle Brown and danced to Free Nelson Mandela with, what hope is there for the rest of the Great British Public? Jeremy doesn't even go to the pub, and he's 20 years older than me, and I still think he's the best woman for the job.
So Im voting for the politics of hope. I really can't see what else to do. YMMV, and I may eat my hat, but then again, it could be the Best Thing Ever.
* Speaking for myself here, not making assumptions about anyone reading this. I know people in precarious situations, but nobody without some support from friends and family.