I can already sense the hate I’ll get from writing this article.
I’ve had enough of that winning smile. If recent history teaches us one thing, it’s to always look past it. Obama promised many a time of unity, equality and a ‘stand for change’ all whilst caving in to special-interest groups yearning for tax loopholes, big corporations and political corruption. That same winning smile which vowed for ‘A New Beginning’, also offered Saudi Arabia $115bn in weapons to shake the very foundations of the Middle East. Tony Blair told the nation that things could only get better but left a legacy that turned the NHS into a business, universities into a privilege for those who could afford it, and turned the lives of 5 million innocent Iraqi civilians into utter chaos and disaster. It’s hard to think when you’re drowning in rhetoric…so just simply ignore it.
I can no longer follow the romantic idea that the only criteria for a leader is a beaming personality that promises me the world, but has never proven themselves to be a force for change. That’s where Jeremy Corbyn is different. I’m not going to tell you that he’s flawless, I’m not going to tell you he’s the best politician and I’m not going to tell you he will be Prime Minister on June 9th. I recognise that he is full of imperfections, countless mistakes and had swiftly pushed Labour off-course on their push to government within his first year, but he has brought about a seismic shift that was so necessary for the future of politics. A politician that has time and time again proven that he can be trusted to enact real change. The difference between Corbyn and the other plain-faced politicians who repeat the same political clichés to the extent my ears could bleed (definitely not hinting at anyone in particular), is that he is a fundamentally decent human being. When Thatcher’s Conservative government labelled the African National Congress, a party associated with the likes of Nelson Mandela, ‘a typical terrorist organisation’ whilst vehemently attacking sanctions against the apartheid regime, Corbyn was on the streets fighting it. When it came to LGBT rights and “the outlandish views of the loony left”, he burst through as the only Labour MP to support an amendment that would have outlawed discrimination based on sexuality. When it came to Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine, he always used his voice in Parliament to promote human rights, not to be dictated by what public opinion told him to do. That is what we so desperately need in politics, someone who isn’t scared to stand up for what he believes in. Someone you could wholeheartedly rely on to protect the vulnerable. A politician who can be defined by his actions, not fool people with a baseless personality.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a blind follower who is naïve enough to look at him as the epitome of social justice or the ‘perfect’ politician (if one could even exist). His Brexit campaign was abysmal and he has consistently failed to hold the government to account on many key issues. During his first months as Labour leader he felt comfortable assuming many would convert to his ideals for a better future and instead of convincing his own party, let alone the nation that his policies were more than just a radical fantasy, he stayed quiet hoping public support would fall in his lap. In doing so he ostracised many who thought their issues weren’t being raised, and it came off as arrogant. ‘Why should I have to convince them? I know my principles are right’ – was the atmosphere he exuded wherever he was, and it wasn’t good enough. He forgot to define himself whilst allowing the Tories to paint his picture. The portrait which became of a terrorist-sympathising lunatic rather than a force for changing our economy to benefit every member of our society, not just the wealthy minority. This election has proven different, his popularity has consistently surged and it begs the question – has he changed himself from the person he was only months ago, or has the public finally opened their eyes to understand what he truly believes in?
However you choose to answer that question, he has provided the UK with a clear choice for the future: continuity under a Tory government which has created a 660% rise in the number of food banks, savage cuts to disability benefits with no hope of ending, allowed £18bn to be slashed from local authorities, whilst NHS hospitals have experienced a 10% cut in funding and a 500% increase in privatisation, a country where the ordinary person cannot benefit from their own nation’s economy. We watch on as more and more children fall off the cliff of poverty but don’t worry, we’re just unlocking their true potential, right? And we’re still the fifth largest economy, right? On the global stage, Theresa May has knelt down to kiss the hands of the world’s most controversial leaders whilst funnelling truckloads of weapons into their heartlands. It sends shivers down my spine thinking of how Erdogan will use his UK financed fighter jets, and how much longer King Salman of Saudi Arabia will obliterate the Yemeni markets with his gallery of arms, all whilst funding a variety of forces from radical extremists to questionable allies. Not even Amber Rudd could keep a straight face when she pleaded ‘to look at our record’ on the BBC leaders debate, indeed it was only recently she silenced a man who dared question her parties record on foreign policy.
This. System. Doesn’t. Work.
And as if all of a sudden, a bulb lit up over the head of every being in this country… ‘there is an alternative’. A truly progressive Labour government that sees wealth soaking into every nook of this country. A place where every young person can step into the wilderness of adulthood standing tall with a degree in one hand and employable skills in the other. Finally we could invest in our thriving industries, has anyone ever thought there may be a reason why Germany, France and the Netherlands profit millions from our railways? In a Labour government, I can see a potential future where workers earn a sustainable living for the immense effort they put into their jobs and our economy, not turn desperately towards the welfare system. When Theresa May recites that she rewards those who work hard, does she forget that 60% of people that claim benefits are actually at work? No child will have to walk the lunch halls asking for leftover food from their friends, or face light-headed hunger during school lessons, or go to work with mum and dad because childcare is too expensive, or even collect food parcels from their local food bank on their way back home. Indeed the number of these 3 day emergency food supplies have risen from 40,898 in 2010 to 1,182,954 in 2017. Nope, I promise you that isn’t a typo. Schools already stripped of funding now face an average of £370,298 in cuts per secondary school with £436 cut per secondary pupil, and an average of £86,951 in cuts per primary school with £338 cut per primary pupil. This is the next generation, our future doctors, lawyers, teachers, shopkeepers, cleaners and engineers, and yet the Conservatives are adamant on torturing them with their ever-increasing austerity.
Oh Theresa May, she is a walking contradiction. Firstly, it is laughable that a party whose manifesto isn’t even costed has the nerve to criticise so profusely every detail of Labour’s costings. What is the Conservative manifesto? They’ve reversed their policy on social care, they can no longer promise to meet their immigration targets, they have hastily U-turned on making ‘a new generation’ of social housing and one has to ask themselves does it deserve to be called a manifesto? It is hardly the collection of policies and promises it should have been. If anything could poetically envisage another five years of Tory chaos, one needs to look no further than their past month of so-called promises. The details of what remains in their ‘manifesto’ describes an even bleaker future. I ask how is it possible to recruit 10,000 new mental health staff when 40% of UK mental health institutes have experienced reduced funding? Perhaps Mrs May has been picking from the infamous money making tree she so passionately preaches about… Their ‘manifesto’ is perhaps a pill too large for the British public to swallow, as I read its details it felt as though the carousel of horror wouldn’t stop spinning in my mind. To the children, the Tories have compensated taking away the millions of free school meals with a wholesome breakfast amounting to the extraordinary figure of 7p per pupil. To the elderly, your state pensions will rise more slowly, the triple lock will be scrapped, and the state pension age is set to rise with life expectancy. Your right to winter fuel payment is to be stolen away and yet you will still vote for them. To our public services, your fate is almost sealed, your collapse will be slow and painful for all those that depend so heavily upon you. With cuts to corporation tax to among one of the lowest levels not only in Europe, but in the world, together with their policies towards income tax, it is impossible to see how you will be funded sustainably. Personally, a more frustrating policy that seems to have fallen under the radar of national scrutiny is the commitment to establish Roman Catholic schools and to scrap the admissions caps on state-funded faith schools. Not only will these schools become a concentrated den of single religious belief, it will isolate many of children from experiencing and acknowledging other cultures whilst also harming the accepting multicultural society that our country has always been proud of. Truly, the current Conservative establishment have taken significant strides in harbouring division within our society.
As the polls slowly emerge on our screens, the Conservative lead collapses swiftly. With only one day left till the public cast their vote, uncertainty and panic is rife within CCHQ and the Labour Press Office. As they hastily run wild with public focus groups, pushing what seems popular, killing what is disliked, I wonder if Theresa May regrets it all? As she looks at her iPad screen watching the public lose favour of her and stares at her reflection in the window of her battle bus, does she ask herself where it all went wrong? How a 25 point lead fell to single digits? How she was supposed to lead her party to a victory in the leagues of Tony Blair and ‘crush the saboteurs’, but now is only grasping to a fraction of the majority she endeavoured to control. Does she now realise not all contests are as pleasant as her own leadership contest? How a campaign built around her personality and leadership so majestically backfired. Whatever happens on June 8th, the Conservative Party is facing disaster. Their ageing membership is slowly dwindling away and their very existence is only kept alive through generous donations pumping into their lifeline. If not already, one day they’ll face the same problems that Hillary Clinton faced last year, falling forever reliant on their rich donors and through bending the rules at the expense of the ordinary citizen, lose the public’s trust.
In Labour I see nothing but hope and a future brighter than ever. The fact a man like Corbyn was ever labelled unelectable should be a stain upon this country. Jeremy may not have possessed the winning smile we so desperately needed, but his involvement in mainstream politics has invigorated the membership to a figure of around half a million, one of the largest currently on the European stage. If he loses, Corbyn will still be responsible for a movement that Bernie Sanders himself has even compared to his own, a movement that recognises that progressive change is still possible. A movement that if not on June 8th, will lead this country to a better, brighter future. One for the many, not the few.