A Corbyn story (ft. Billy Bragg)

I couldn't vote in the general election, I was too young. I held some vague opinions but I never researched things fully. I supported Greens in a sort of passive, do-gooder-y way but I didn't really know that much about politics. I asked a lot of questions but I never really understood what was actually happening or the differences between Labour and Tories. I could just about get my head around some of the technicalities, but, like almost every other seventeen year old, I didn't know enough and was therefore backed into a corner of not caring, as my institutionalised education until then had taught me more about recessive genes than how I had a say in how the country is run. That priority in education is something that needs to change.
Upon turning 18 I was thrilled that I could vote in bi-elections etc., but gutted that it'd be almost five years before I could have the say I really wanted to have (shoutout to my parents for putting me into this world a month too late).
Combining my lack of knowledge, lack of caring, and lack of power, I assumed (apparently very naively) that the government was generally good. They had power over everyone, right? They had a responsibilty to look after us. Of course, we'd never live in a Utopia, there would always be a power play and money wouldn't allow everything to be free constantly, but when I walked into college and was greeted by stolid silence from my friend in reaction to a probable Tory victory, only then did I realise how bad things really were, and how bad they were going to be. And of course, the announcement of the budget. Only the coldest of hearts wouldn't have flinched at that; but then, it was the Tories than imposed it.

I did some research with my new found tiny bit of power. I decided I wasn't for each and every one of the Greens' policies, and I was better off supporting Labour, but I didn't really do anything. Then I heard about Corbyn.
First, my person talking enthusiastically about him after coming from a Hustings. Then in a blog post he wrote comparing Corbyn with the other runners. The vague impression I picked up was that Corbyn was a leftie underdog that no one expected much success from, and for my knowledge to accuracy ratio, I'd say that was a pretty good judgement at the time (late June).
Second, with Billy Bragg talking about Corbyn during his packed-out headline show at Tramlines in late July. By this point I was already aware enough of Corbyn's ideals to be sold enough to stick up for him; when my driving instructor made a negative comment about him I hit a speed bump so it'd annoy him, and stalled intentionally in the middle of the road.
It was this Billy Bragg speech that encouraged me to become a Labour party member. Not because he sold me on Corbyn, but he sold me on using the voice you have, no matter how small. And so, thirdly, I registered and with great excitement read the leaders' general stock statements. More importantly, and this was one of the first big factors than confirmed who I was going to vote for, Corbyn's was the only one I could understand. Allow me to again reference my very limited knowledge on politics. Corbyn's hundred-odd words were the only ones that seemed to have a direction more than, "us not Tories".
And with great difficulty - and even greater thanks to a friend I met via the driving instructor lark and Twitter, and who studies politics at Notts Uni - I researched and understood who and what I was voting for. I went from a tragically low point preceding a Corbyn rally where I found myself crying and yelling "fuck" so much that my mum had to close all the windows for fear of terrifying the neighbours, all because none of the other three runners had clear opinions of policies that I could see, and because I didn't understand the term "Blairite", to reading the news every day (and understanding most of it), holding up my own in a discussion on politics and generally understanding the UK government to some extent. Full credit goes to my politics friend for explaining fairly and in detail the pros and cons of all the candidates for both leader and deputy leader, especially when he had to use a painfully simplistic infographic to help me understand "Blairite".

So all the agony I felt when I saw my friend vowing silence at the Tory win, and the horror I felt at the announcement of the budget, was drastically opposed with the sheer, overwhelming glee I felt when I saw Corbyn had won the leadership election. Finally, someone to root for whose moral compass points north, someone who wants the best for the underprivileged, a good, honest leader like I always thought we had.

I woke up and read the news this morning, after watching Corbyn's first speech which I fell asleep to at 2am last night, and I saw what felt like dozens of articles of people saying Corbyn has, essentially, no shot. These people are, of course, people of alleged importance, not the majority - the general public. Let me briefly (and hesitantly, having still a limited knowledge on the matter) talk through some numbers.

First of all, over 11.3 million people voted Tory in the election, whilst around 9.3 voted Labour. Just under half a million voted in the Labour leadership contest (and 343,995 of those were online making it the largest online ballot of anything ever in the UK).
Over a quarter of a million people voted for Corbyn, gaining him a landslide victory with 60% of the votes (59.5 if we're being pedantic) with his closest rival, previous front runner Andy Burnham, getting a little over 80 thousand votes and 19%. Although the turnout was very high at 76.3%, even if everyone who didn't vote but could've done (131,608) put Burnham down as their first choice, he wouldn't have won.
Break this down even further and you can see that 49.6% of members voted for Corbyn, alongside 83.8% of registered supporters and 57.6% of affiliated supporters.
In comparison, 36.9% of people voted Tory in the election and only 66.1% of people voted. 63.1% of people voted against the Tories, and 33.9% of people didn't vote. More people didn't vote than voted for Conservative.
Yet when Corbyn gets a 59.5% win, he is apparently not a leader for the people.

I feel the numbers speak for themselves and that Corbyn and Watson do and will serve as a voice for the people.


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