I had always voted Labour, from the sidelines. Always as a “best of a bad bunch” kind of vote. I agreed with some of the things they put forward, and quite liked Ed, but I never felt any passion about them or felt inclined to join the Party. I always felt like they offered the best solutions out of the three mainstream parties but were never enough of an opposition. “They’re all the same” was a common phrase, uttered by myself and many others like me.

Then around this time last year, when the initial leadership campaign was announced, I was listening to the radio and they were talking about the candidates. They were discussing Yvette and Liz and Andy…and then Jeremy’s name came up. I’ll hold my hands up and say I’d never heard of him before. But the more I heard of him, the more I liked. I had never heard a politician like this in my lifetime. I read up on him- he had always been on the right side of history and for once what he said matched up with his voting record. He had been arrested for protesting apartheid in South Africa, which as someone with South African heritage, really struck a chord. Especially when at the same time he was arrested, many people and some politicians were turning a blind eye, or even actively endorsing the brutal regime. The image below was supposedly created by the Federation of Conservative Students, for example. Juxtaposed with Jeremy being arrested for protesting apartheid makes quite a striking contrast.

 

 

At the final hour, Jeremy Corbyn secured enough nominations to be on the ballot. I remember being sat at my desk, constantly refreshing rolling news, and upon seeing that he was on the ballot, screaming with joy. I was flooded with messages from my friends and family, who were equally excited that he was there. To “move the debate to the left”, as at the time, this is all we thought would be possible.

I remember watching the first leadership debate. He spoke so clearly and confidently. His ideas were concrete and coherent. He spoke with passion and intelligence and did not speak in soundbites.This was such a refreshing change from the politicians we had been used to. He was everything I thought the Labour Party needed and should stand for. Liz, Yvette and Andy all seemed wishy washy and bland in contrast, recycling the same old ideas of which Labour had been spouting for the past few decades.

As it went on, more and more people became convinced by Jeremy. His odds dropped from 100/1 to 25/1- a fact which my boyfriend repeatedly kept checking and repeating back to me with an increasingly excited tone. I ever remember him placing a bet on Jeremy when the odds hit 25/1, and I remember thinking “that’s nice, but he’s not going to win”. I started having conversations with people I’d never spoken to about politics before, all because Jeremy had caught their interest. I remember going on the anti-austerity march in London (see photo below) and seeing Jeremy speak in Parliament Square. There were thousands of people, completely hooked on every word he said. As he finished speaking, cries of “Jez We Can” echoed around us, and a sense of solidarity hung in the air. The coach ride home passed by in a cloud of hope and excitement for the future.

anti austerity

I joined the Labour Party in early September. I had never joined a political party before, but Jeremy seemed worth taking the plunge for. It seemed too important to let this opportunity pass us by.

Finally the day the results were to be announced rolled by. My family and I gathered around the television to watch them being read out. I felt nervous. There was an electricity in the air, we all knew without saying how much was at stake and how much we could lose. When they said Jeremy had won by the amount that he had, we screamed. Hugged. Opened a bottle of prosecco and celebrated. We had tears our my eyes. My mum, who left the party a few years ago, was crying with happiness. There was so much hope in that room.

Me and my boyfriend became active Labour Party members in January or so. I stood for Town Council and was elected to the position in the May elections- something I never thought I would do. Our local branch, Todmorden, saw an influx of new, active members, a lot of whom have helped canvas and leaflet and organise events.

The first 9 months of Jeremy’s campaign have been a mix of highs and lows. Highs such as defeating the Tories on academisation and PIP payments. By election win after by election win. Mayoral elections won in places Labour had lost before. Lows such as the national media and many of our own party berating Jeremy at any possible moment.

The recent events in the Labour Party have left me angry and heartbroken. I know so many people who have joined the Party over the past few months, to support Jeremy. People who have either not voted before, or voted for other parties before. People who can’t afford to pay the ridiculous £25 supporter fee but for once they have someone who speaks for them, who looks out for them. Who doesn’t offer empty promises. Who doesn’t outwardly claim to be for working people but then abstains on damaging welfare bills put forward by the Tory party.

At a time when we could have been fighting the Tories, at a time when the Tory party were weak and falling apart, some of the PLP have decided to launch the most undemocratic series of events I have ever witnessed. We could be taking the lead in the polls, like we were before the referendum, but we are lagging behind. Because of the coup, not because of Jeremy.

New members, such as myself are accused of being entryists, of being naive, or being too young to understand what is going on.

This is not how we should be acting. We should be welcoming new members with open arms. Embracing that we have seen such a huge increase in membership. Not pushing people away.

There is a common misconception that Jeremy only appeals to a certain demographic- this could not be more wrong. The crowds at rallies I have attended up and down the country prove that- there were young and old, middle class and working class, people of different races, faiths, genders…his appeal is a broad and diverse one. He inspires something in people that scares a lot of people in powerful positions and in government. He inspires hope.

The Labour Party needs Jeremy Corbyn. The country needs Jeremy Corbyn.

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