I have just joined the Labour Party, because Jeremy Corbyn has been elected their leader.
Many people, including political commentators, seem to think that the election vote was for Corbyn’s policy preferences rather than for the person. But I am less interested in the policies than the person. He is a breath of fresh air compared with previous Labour and current Conservative leaders, who exhibited an autocratic style of leadership. If Corbyn were an autocrat then I would be worried! But I remember that early in his campaign he talked of policies being formed by the party, not one person. If that is the case, I may even become active as a Labour Party member!
I am optimistic because I don’t think that the man is an idiot. He knows that he has to create a new unity within the Labour Party. That must be a unity where each opinion is valued and where each member is expected to vote according to their conscience. That is what he has lived throughout his political career, and that is one of the reasons people have voted for him: we are tired of political puppets dancing to the tune set by their leader (or worse, the big donors to their party).
Ever since Thatcher, our nation’s leaders have told us that it is OK to be greedy; that those with high wages ‘are worth it and deserve it’. Nobody has dared suggest that the poor may not want to be poor, and that their wellbeing is more important than a thriving economy that is able to support the wages of the rich. Corbyn is prepared to put the case for the poorest in society. He does not have to pick a fight with the wealthy if they are ready to recognise that they have a responsibility as fellow human beings to do their fair share in trying to balance the nation’s books. But if they don’t listen, and if greed prevails, then protest may become necessary.
I see Corbyn’s landslide election as a catalyst for a new type of politician, with humility and integrity, who is willing to serve and represent their community. Who can say quite what will happen, but disruption of a stale and failing political system has to be a good thing. If nothing else, he has captured the imagination of the younger generation. Let’s hope that this brings the positive change that we all want.