So on Saturday, Facebook and Twitter feeds everywhere exploded with the #JezWeCan hashtag amidst the news that rebel back-bencher and longtime labour MP Jeremy Corbyn had won the Labour leadership election, a process constantly smeared with doubt in the media, with Buzzfeed doing an extensive series of articles about how suspiciously easy it appeared to register a fake member in this election to vote (they used Ned the cat as an example) and other reporters eagerly picking up on the trend.
Regardless, it’s a massive victory. 59% of the vote, a genuine mathematical majority for the first time in years. In fact, it’s a far higher majority than it took to elect the Conservative government into power during the national elections, which pours cold water on people claiming that his leadership is somehow illegitimate but in the same breath defending Cameron’s cronies because “democracy!!”
The shake up of politics feels tangible. The press everywhere are falling over themselves to either praise or condemn him, proclamations of “THE FAR LEFT” held up both in reverence and in fear simultaneously by each side, in quite hilarious manner. Whatever your opinion of socialism, your reaction to a “negative” or a “positive” paper here is going to be determined by this opinion, not by the headlines either way. There is a real and tangible split, and for many, this is genuinely exciting, as there has been no real split in British Politics since the 1980’s and the infamous time of Margaret Thatcher.
Many papers are clinging onto this fact, and using this to argue that a split can only inevitably mean another far right wing Tory victory, but to this I argue: What’s new? The Tories already hold an outright majority of seats in the House of Commons, with all of their opposition together being smaller than them (and therefore ultimately powerless in a first-past-the-post voting system where the vast majority of the party MP’s vote with their leader). The Tories already want to change the human rights act and put the Hunting Act back on the table, how much worse can it really get? They already want to cut and privatise the NHS, and they can’t privatise the Rail service and close down the coal mines AGAIN, because they already did it last time! (As an interesting note, Corbyn has said he will consider OPENING the deep coal mines in the North, which is fantastically interesting and deserves it’s own post about the Northern Economy). In all honesty, how much worse could it be?
As another point, it is in fact, a different time. There’s social media and connectedness like never before, and not only that, there’s also the very real benefit of hindsight. We have seen Thatcher, we have seen what happened then. History might rhyme, but it certainly doesn’t have to repeat itself! No one, based on history, was predicting that Corbyn would win this leadership election, the rebel back-bencher. No one, based on history, was predicting that Labour would lose almost all of its Scottish seats to the SNP. No one, based on history, can exactly tell the future for our people right now.
People are ready for a change, that’s what the SNP win and Labour losses tell us, what the record wins of both UKIP and the Green Party are telling us. People are polarising again, and we need a political landscape that reflects this; that reinvigorates the voting public again and spurs us on, beyond the “middle of the road” politics that Blair bought in in the Nineties, into truly polarised politics with real changes. Imagine a political landscape with clear borders to get behind, where everyone has a party that they can be passionate about…imagine what we could do then. The number of people who are socially aware of classism, oppression, the myth of trickle down economics is growing, and we can only hope that when our new polarised governments arise, it will be coming down on the side of the Left, fuelled by the hysterical attempts at muck-slinging by the right wing media bloc (which have undoubtably played an accidental role in the hype for this party leadership election).
At least with this new balance of right wing and left wing, we can finally begin to excercise some real choice in our national elections… in 5 years time.