Recently a close friend announced that she had joined the Labour Party. A year ago I would have been surprised; although I have long admired her stance and her liberal attitude on social issues, her background and upbringing suggested to me that she would be more inclined to lend her support elsewhere. But this time I wasn’t.
She explained her move thus… ‘This is the first time that I have heard a politician speak with clarity and honesty. Although I disagree with some of his policies I am attracted by his willingness to make his position on any topic very clear and not hide behind the usual obfuscation.’ Once I had looked it up in my new dictionary I got what she meant.
Being naturally inquisitive I asked some other friends from across the political spectrum, what their take on Jeremy Corbyn was; for the purpose of this scribble let’s call them Joe and Ian. A lot of sucking-in of air came from Joe and Ian looked like I had offered him some Marmite. After considerable but considered debate the collective view was one of reluctant approbation (I’ve got a new dictionary – did I tell you?). Not that they agreed with Jeremy’s politics but they, albeit reluctantly, appreciated his honesty, unusual from a politician in this day and age, ‘actually any day and age’ Joe muttered.
You are probably not the least bit interested in what my friends think, sometimes I’m not either, but on this occasion it resembles something closer to home. Since Jeremy Corbyn’s landslide victory in the Labour leadership election the membership of Walton and Hersham Labour Party has almost tripled, a number of them are younger first time members and some are disillusioned former members returning to the fold. Why? The answer given is usually along similar lines to my friends above …‘Jeremy is a breath of fresh air in UK politics… Seldom before has a politician dealt with questions put to him/her with a straight, honest answer…Has kept his idealistic morals…No hiding behind rhetoric or answering with a question of his own’ – hmmm… note to Cameron at PMQ’s.
Not only is Corbyn prepared to continue patiently explaining his firmly long held beliefs but this approach encourages open debate. I get the feeling that older electors, of which I am unashamedly one, relish the opportunity of starting the conversation afresh. Forget the briefings that came from above demanding unquestioning support for ‘Tony’; we now have the opportunity to question policy and of expressing our socialist principles without feeling the wrath of New Labour particularly for mentioning the ‘S’ word. And younger people seem to enthusiastically embrace the hopeful and idealistic spirit that Jeremy’s election has brought to the world of politics.
It has been a painful time within the Labour Party recently with all the bloodletting going on and there could very well be more to come. We have still to come to terms with losing the election of 2015 so badly and whilst some never-will-bees, often under pressure MPs, jump on the Tory media bandwagon to bash Corbyn isn’t helping, good can come from all this. We have the opportunity to help prepare a Labour Party for government which will reverse the vicious ideological madness of this callous Tory Government. It will be ready to support real hard working people with policies in place to provide an NHS fit for purpose, ensure an education system that caters for all, provide crucially needed housing which the ordinary family can afford and introduce a more robust tax system where all pay their just share.
This is an exciting time to be a Labour Party member. Will Jeremy lead us to a great victory in 2020 or will it all end in tears? I don’t know the answer but I’ve noticed that when people hear that I’m a member of the Labour Party they no longer ask ‘Why?’.