Why I’m Voting Corbyn
For the many not the few.
On Thursday, as Great Britain goes to the polls in its General Election, I will be voting for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. In case there are any undecided voters open to being swayed, I thought it worth articulating why.
I’m not interested in picking a fight with die-hard Tories, the sort who tingle at the thought of shiny Trident missiles and respond to any policy with a whiff of social conscience with some tired riposte about ‘magic-money-trees’. Instead, this is addressed to the normal people of Britain — the scared and the skint, the confused and politically homeless. If you want a better country we are on the same team, so hear me out.
For the last seven years, the Tory government in Britain has embarked on an ideological crusade to slash the services that make our society function and flourish. Driven by a fetish for small government and an unwavering faith in free-market economics, they have chipped away at public services and halved municipal budgets, forcing local councils to sell everything — the buildings, the public spaces — that used to belong to us all. Living standards for the many have stagnated and fallen. I defy you to point out a single area of public life that has demonstrably improved for the majority since 2010. Meanwhile, the crony capitalists and corporations have partied on; the 1%, blessed with corporate tax-cuts and bank bailouts, have doubled their share of national wealth. It turns out there is a magic-money tree after all. You just have to be rich to pick its fruit.
Rather than demand accountability from government, we have been encouraged — both by Tory politicians and the increasingly bilious, billionaire-owned newspapers that cheer them on — to blame each other under a variety of easy labels — elites, scroungers, immigrants, experts. It is a ploy that has fomented division across every class and creed in the land. As Will Self said in an interview recently: “if it weren’t for the remnants of a civil society that was built up over centuries…we’d be a war with each other.” Theresa May’s vision for Britain is of a lonely, angry, miserable archipelago, shorn of the humour and spirit that made it great.
Which brings us onto what Labour offer as an alternative.
Do I think Corbyn is the Messiah? No. Is Diane Abbott criminally under-briefed? Yes. Is today’s Labour Party a compellingly unified and competent political operation? Evidently not. Hell, perhaps Corbyn is as the smears would have you believe — an unreconstructed Maoist, weak-willed and impractical. However, and you know this to be true, he is a man who, wonder of wonders, believes in things and actually gives a shit. Scratch beneath the unpalatable surface of BritThanks Lisa! ain’s two main political parties and you’re left with a simple dichotomy. The Tories want to maintain an intolerable status quo. The underlying aspiration of this Labour Party, and the manifesto it’s running on, is to improve the lot of this country’s citizens. You may have doubts about their ability to fulfil their promises, but the cold, hard fact of this election is that a Labour government cannot be any worse than what we have now.
So what do the Tories have on their side? They have enthusiasm for Brexit. So what of Brexit? Though it has grown into a symbol of independence for a certain constituency in Britain, the risks presented by its enactment remain hard to overstate. In the months of negotiation to come, never forget that the Tories own whatever tolls are exacted. For decades, the anti-EU faction within the Conservative Party, the spiritual descendants of the aristocrats who sent your forebears to the poor-house, agitated against the idea of EU membership. In the build up to the referendum they lied and dissembled, they talked of Norwegian-style models and continued access to the single-market. Then, having got their way, they retreated behind a barricade of half-truths and hollow slogans. These right-wing hardliners would see us leave without a deal, making enemies of our closest neighbors along the way. And then, as the economic consequences bite, the politicians will do what politicians do — seek more scapegoats, blame our neighbors, blame the elites, and the wounds you see rotting in our body politic will widen and fester all the more.
You think this country is fucked now. Vote Tory, and see where we’re at in three years time.
This election, therefore, presents us with a stark and urgent choice. We can continue with a Tory party that believes in nothing but the cynical perpetuation of its own power, with a mad-clown President as our only friend. Or we can vote for change, cross everything, and hope.
I choose to hope.