This autumn I started at university, although I’m studying for a mechanical engineering degree I was glad of the opportunity to expand my horizons. This amounted to trekking through the rain to the first meeting of my local socialist students’ branch. I was initially delighted when I found out about the group, as I identify with their socialist ideas and hopes. I thought what I was about to see would be a like-minded group of individuals with whom I would work to bring about some real change; no matter how small. I was bitterly disappointed.
Everything started well, a speech by a local union rep about a history of trade unions and how important they are with examples of all the good they have done; the five day week, paid sick leave and legally mandated holidays, to name but a few. After the inspiring speech things started to go downhill. A passionate man stepped forward and began whipping the crowd into a frenzy, he spoke of pressing home advantages Corbyn had won. Nothing wrong with that, but when the talk turned to mandatory re-selection it became clear what the true agenda was. This man, like so many others on the far left fringes of the Labour Party, wanted to bring in mandatory re selection for MP candidates which would effectively bring about a “purge” of the Labour Party. “Bring down the Blairites” was the rallying call.
Now don’t get me wrong I certainly don’t want to see a return to Blair’s policies with most of them being, arguably, centre right. The last thing our broken country needs is an economy that only caters for the elitist super rich driven by capitalist greed that was offered under Blair’s premiership. Our country cannot keep going with privatisation, PFIs and austerity. The ordinary working families have to come first for once. As we all know, the goal of almost every political party is to win power, get into government and bring about the changes they want. This is done, at least in our country, by winning the centre ground.
Although we have returned to a polarised political climate not seen since 1995, all that this has resulted in is a failure of both leaders to win over the majority of the public. Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May both currently have negative approval ratings, showing that there are many people feeling as though they are being left out in the cold. There is a feeling that no leader can tie our fractured country back together after the political upheavals in the last few years. Since 2014 we have seen a Scottish independence referendum, followed by a general election in which we saw UKIP emerge as true political power with 12.6% of the vote. This led to the now infamous Brexit vote. Before the electorate even had a chance to catch their breath, we were hit by another general election where politics flipped again with socialism flirting with a return to the mainstream. All of this has meant a highly divided country where there is a massive proportion of the country who feel left behind, sidelined and ignored.
This means that there is a massive opportunity. Jeremy Corbyn is attempting to take this chance. By saying he is willing to work with the right hand elements of the Labour Party and inviting them to his front bench, he is showing all of us-and by us I don’t mean the rank and file of the Labour Party, I mean the United Kingdom, that he is stepping up to plate and can indeed be a Prime Minister for the many. This is also clearly reinforced with both his, and his grassroots group Momentum, opposition to mandatory re-selection. There is hope yet.