Written by Jen Offord

In The News

Why I’m glad I voted Corbyn

When the Labour leader candidates were announced, Jen Offord explained why she was Team Corbyn. Now he’s in, is she standing by her vote? Jez, she is.

Jeremy Corbyn at the No More War event at Parliament Square in August. Photo by Garry Knight, via Wikimedia Commons.

Jeremy Corbyn at the No More War event at Parliament Square in August. Photo by Garry Knight, via Wikimedia Commons.

Following three months of bitterly fought campaigning, riddled with personal digs and smears, but at least pepped up by the odd address astride a fire engine, Jez indeed he did: rank outsider and bearded socialist Jeremy Corbyn has only gone and won the Labour leadership contest.

Let’s be fair, he hasn’t just won it, he’s absolutely pulled his competitors’ pants down. He’s pulled them down, made a cup of tea, sat back, eaten a digestive biscuit, administered a whooping, had another cup of tea and chuckled whimsically to himself as the records show a victory of 59.5 per cent of the overall vote in just the first and only round.

It’s a staggering mandate; one greater even than campaign meddler and, lest we forget, disgraced politician Tony Blair back in 1994. It’s not even just those pesky ‘supporters’ (you know, the ones who the Labour party said could vote if they paid £3 to sort of quasi-join the party, then said it wouldn’t stand up to legal scrutiny – it would – then stopped loads of them from voting) who overwhelmingly voted for Corbyn. Sure, he won more than 80 per cent of their votes, but he also won just shy of 50 per cent of existing members’ votes.

“Having a female shadow Defence Minister, Maria Eagle, is quite a big deal. There has never been a female Defence Secretary.”

It was a great day for yours truly, and I even wondered if this was what it felt like to win a World Cup, as I suppressed a tear of joy – the first and only I have associated with British politics in my adult life. It wasn’t such a great day for half the existing shadow front bench, it seems, who promptly resigned stating “irreconcilable differences” with their new boss.

I suppose there is an argument that the only way to effect change, to temper the much-maligned radical beast that is Comrade Corbyn, is to do so from the inside: to work collaboratively. But perhaps it is one thing to disagree so fundamentally with your overlord, that you feel you could not action their policies – as a former civil servant I feel their pain. Maybe it’s another when you disagree with the – I’ll say it again – overwhelming majority of your party, to the extent that you feel you can’t represent their views. Maybe you’re in the wrong party?

But it didn’t end there for the OVERWHELMINGLY FAVOURED new leader of the Labour Party. Having made a point that he would ensure 50 per cent of his shadow front bench consisted of women, he was naturally accused of “sidelining women”, because the “top jobs” of shadow home and foreign secretaries and chancellor all went to men.

I’d like to take the opportunity to point out that only 191 of 650 MPs in the House of Commons are women – a paltry 29 per cent – and that having a female shadow Defence Minister, Maria Eagle, is quite a big deal. There has never been a female Defence Secretary. Perhaps the very act of ensuring more of them are visible would help to bump that number up a bit.

It could just be that these issues characterise at least the early stages of his leadership, alongside the most bullshit of bullshitty press assassinations we’ve seen in recent times. Having negotiated the gauntlet of comments taken ‘out of context’ (or, if you prefer, unfinished sentences) published by the media, for the last several months, it’s not the first time he’s come up against this.

“David Cameron’s immediate response to the appointment of Corbyn was to tell us all that our country was now at risk. This was backed up by The Sun, who screamed that Labour wanted to abolish the army.”

His response that he would consider female-only carriages on trains if that was what women wanted in order to feel less at risk of being sexually assaulted became: “JEREMY CORBYN BLAMES WOMEN FOR BEING SEXUALLY ASSAULTED.” His remark that it was a tragedy that the due process of trial by jury and subsequent punishment had not been followed before Osama Bin Laden had his brains blown out by US Marines became: “CORBYN LOVES OSAMA BIN LADEN AND ISIS AND ALL THE THINGS WE REGULARLY TELL YOU TO BE SCARED OF BECAUSE IT HELPS US CONTROL YOU AND MAINTAIN THE POLITICAL STATUS QUO.” Or, you know, words to that effect.

Of course those very issues are the ones that Her Majesty’s Government, alongside their pals at News International, hope will take the heat off a probably quite alarming victory for the left. They are the issues that so many governments have prayed will keep us awake at night in the hope that we care less about the morally reprehensible way suspects are detained and tried, wars are fought and refugees are treated, not to mention distract us from all the other awful things happening at home, on our watch.

David Cameron’s immediate response to the appointment of Corbyn was to tell us all that our country was now at risk. This was backed up by The Sun, who screamed that Labour wanted to abolish the army. Even by The Sun’s questionable standards in journalistic ethics, to deliberately take advantage and to exploit the fears of (using their own language) hard-working British families to ensure that the very people who oppress them, who systematically dismantle their public services, keep themselves at the top, is bleak. There’s also a counter argument that a different tactic in our foreign policies might reduce the risk posed by all those groups we’re supposed to be scared of.

Corbyn doesn’t play the News International game, and it does not play his, which in itself is a huge problem for him given their sway. Its jaws are agape, salivating over the tiniest morsel to discredit or misrepresent a man who might just help usher in a new dawn of social responsibility that would not sit comfortably with this establishment. Then again, maybe these problems are insurmountable and maybe I am a loony – as they described Corbyn – but I’d much rather this than the alternative.

@inspireajen

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Written by Jen Offord

Jen is a writer from Essex, which isn’t relevant because she lives in London, but she likes people to know it. As well as daft challenges, she likes cats, cheese and Beyonce. @inspireajen