Why I voted for Jeremy Corbyn.

 

I voted for Jeremy Corbyn to fight the gradual creep of society to the right.

I am a socialist. The Labour Party is supposed to be a socialist party. Socialism is not the centre-left, it has grown from Marxism, it is at odds with liberal and conservative policies, and this is what I want to vote for. The reason the party system has evolved the way it has in our nation is because traditionally there has been a space for each of those stances to have a voice – whether you agree with party politics or not, it’s the role the Labour Party was conceived to play.

Maybe it’s because I’m young and I don’t yet have anything I’ll be asked to share, or maybe it’s selfish because I can’t see a path to security through any other means, but regardless, I want my vote to be for something which is properly socialist, not just wearing a red coat.

I voted for Jeremy Corbyn because compromise is not worth fighting for.

Could I have rallied behind Owen Smith? Liz Kendall? Andy Burnham? Could I have done anything except shrug my shoulders and said ‘fine’? Jeremy Corbyn reminded people of their passion for politics – newspaper columnists, grime musicians and grassroots campaigners stood behind him. If this was to be a ‘last hoorah’, it was not worth fighting for something cooked up to be inoffensive, half-believed in by all and fully believed in by nobody. This was an offensive move in the sense of battle strategy, not in the sense of political correctness. I would rather be the Light Brigade than the Trade Federation.

I voted for Jeremy Corbyn because compromise is not guaranteed to win.

One of the most common narratives played out in the media before the election was the fervent hatred of Corbynistas by Blairites, and vice-versa. Let me tell you now this is not the case – I’m not afraid to admit that Tony Blair did a great deal of good. His focus on education, Northern Ireland (although obviously we all know this was brought about by Mo Mowlam), and the minimum wage were excellent moves which were truly in the spirit of the Labour movement. I was too young to fully understand the Iraq war at the time (and thus it is with the benefit of hindsight I say) but I believe it was a dumb idea and the nation was given false facts to ensure that it happened. But the discourse from the other side of the party was far more simplistic.

Blair won.

The main accusation thrown at Corbynistas was that of not being motivated to win in a GE. Perhaps if I had been guaranteed a parliamentary majority by one of the other campaigners it might have changed my vote, but politicking ‘appropriately’ to tradition was not guaranteed a win. Could Owen Smith have pulled this morning’s results out of the bag? Liz Kendall? Their work in their constituencies ought to be applauded, and each has issues that they have campaigned hard for, but that does not mean it is worth voting for a slight increase in likelihood over a wildcard that fights for what matters to me, you… all of us.

I voted for Jeremy Corbyn for integrity.

I don’t believe money has a place in political campaigning. An individual donor ought not have the power to influence the amount of leaflets that are delivered, adverts that are broadcast or newspaper coverage read.

This was made much clearer by the aggressive campaign run by the Liberal Democrats in my seat: focussing on our (admittedly widely disliked for her views) local MP and their challenger, they attempted to discredit the entire Labour Party using endless leaflets showing her with Nigel Farage (admittedly this upset me) and using tabloid-style spin to take policies out of context (i.e. ignoring the published costings) and push their own (which were also costed but which were not fairly compared). If your ideology fits on a leaflet, it’s dog-whistle politics designed to undermine your opponent.

I also don’t believe that the parliamentary Labour Party has more commitment, knowledge, or life experience than the electorate, but I firmly believe that they think they do.

All around my social media I see people sharing images of Tories who voted against fundamental rights, claimed too much on expenses, have said scandalous things or associated with scandalous people with no mention of any Labour MPs who have done similar things. A vote for Jeremy Corbyn seemed, to me, a vote to acknowledge and address anti-semitism in the Labour Party, a vote to move to attacking voting records from slander campaigns, and against the PLP’s view that they, not the electorate, are the ones that matter. Corbyn’s record as a backbencher and protester, as one of the lowest-expense-claiming MPs, and as a popular local figure in his constituency seemed, to me, an antidote to Westminster’s faith in the system. The system has not helped us.

I voted for Jeremy Corbyn to lead the opposition.

I voted for a man who would stand up in parliament and challenge the government about the effect of their policies. Nobody can deny that I’ve had that, when at PMQs we have seen the voices and concerns of ordinary people elevated to a position that demands an answer. I voted to give a backbench MP permission to make trouble on a much larger scale – something which will become more important in the coming months. I gave permission for Corbyn to pressure May to resign twice this week alone.

I voted for Jeremy Corbyn because I, personally, have been betrayed by politics.

When I was 16, I skipped school to see Nick Clegg speak. I folded and delivered leaflets for the Lib Dems and saw each of the policies he pushed as right and good fall by the wayside. As he was unseated last night, we saw the effect of that: the copy of The Communist Manifesto that was passed around my school in the wake of it, the distrust of the Lib Dems courting a particular group (then: students; now: Europeans and Europhiles), his coalition friendships.

When I was 10, I used to tell people who asked what I wanted to do when I was older that I wanted to be Prime Minister and all of them – every, single one – gave the response “what, like Margaret Thatcher?” At the age of 10, having grown up in a house with two politics graduates for parents, I knew that the answer was ‘no’. But who did I want to be like? The issue was mainly one of representation – as the only female Prime Minister, that’s who a little girl ought to aspire to (god knows who children of colour must see in our system). But the issue was also – for me – who to look up to. Corbyn has pushed Diane Abbott and Shami Chakrabarti to the front despite the obvious sacrifice to his own credibility, has more women (and his election also allowed dissenters like Jess Phillips to become more powerful) than May. He has also largely populated his cabinet with allies, which deserves some level of criticism, but I would rather vote for somebody who will allow others to come up through the ranks and positively discriminate against the ingrained racism in our system than choose proteges and yes-men.

I voted to unite the fractured left.

One of the major problems in the left is factionalisation. This has always been the case – Sparticists splitting off from Socialists, Bolsheviks against Mensheviks – and probably always will be, as it is inherently more principled on this side of the political compass (we want a better world, but what does that look like?). What I saw in Corbyn was a leader who shared views with the Green Party, the SNP and Plaid Cymru, the WE party. Not all views, of course, but ones that would allow a meaningful coalition and allow the fringes of the left – and the right, of course, but if people vote UKIP their voices must be heard – into the debate.

How do you defend the indefensible?

That’s what supporting anyone but Corbyn would have meant. It would have meant putting the last gasp of the Labour Party into something I didn’t believe in, didn’t believe could win, would stoop to levels I didn’t want to go to.

I am not naive. I am not stupid. I knew exactly what I was voting for when I voted twice  for Corbyn to lead the Labour Party and once to lead the country. I am not blindly following anybody to the dinner table, and I understand that I was also voting for instability and an uncertain future. So did the British people – they saw the benefits I did: that chaos can only hurt those benefitting from the system, that it was not worth compromising if it was our last stand. They, and I, were not blind to the hints of cronyism, the disorganisation and the people who were not willing to stand behind the leader, but we all made a conscious choice and took the rough with the smooth, as we do with all decisions.

That is why the impossible has been done. But it is also why I didn’t care if we lost this election more decisively (let’s be real, a hung parliament with somebody else as the larger party is not a victory). I’m proud of what we have achieved, and it has invigorated me to keep moving forward. This is the first time in a long time I have been proud to be interested in politics.

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