Friday, 14 August 2015
"Why on earth is he suddenly the bloody messiah?"
A friend of a friend on Facebook made the following comment about Labour leadership candidate, Jeremy Corbyn, "He's made no impact in 22 years as an MP apart from campaigning to ban the importation of foie gras. Why on earth is he suddenly the bloody messiah?"
Overlooking the inaccuracy of the remark "in 22 years as an MP" (he has actually been there for 32 years, maiden speech 1st July, 1983), I have to say that there is much more to Jeremy Corbyn than just an aversion to pate!
He has one of the highest levels of support from voters in any constituency in the country, and in the recent election managed to increase his majority to around 21,000, an increase of almost 6% on 2010. Not many Labour MP's managed that, did they?
He is very aware that the money he spends as an MP on his office, staff and expenses comes from our taxes, and he is as careful with it as he can be, which is why he has one of the lowest expenses records of all 650 Westminster MPs. He is often seen travelling around London on his bicycle or on the bus, as this is both economical and environmentally friendly. How many MPs do you meet on the bus?
His strong advocacy for the rights of women, LGBT persons, and ethnic groups has been in evidence since his arrival in Parliament, and his support for maintaining a publicly funded NHS that provides the best service available free at the point of use goes has its origins in his days as a NUPE full time official.
He has campaigned on behalf of many victims of miscarriages of justice, and is passionate about protecting the poor, the vulnerable, and our human rights. Just recently, as one of the 48 Labour MPs who really understand that the opposition party's role is to oppose and not to abstain, he voted against the Tory's Welfare Reform Bill, when the official party line was to abstain.
He has been travelling around to rallies (around 70 of them so far in a matter of 7 weeks), attracting crowds of up to 2,000 people in (and sometimes outside of!) huge venues all round the country, all of whom are wanting to hear him speak, because what he says resonates with them.
He is connecting with and inspiring people who had walked away from the Party under the Kinnock, Blair, Brown, Miliband leaderships, and bringing them back to the party, but more than that, he is inspiring a whole generation of youngsters who have not seen anything worth voting for in recent elections and who felt that politics wasn't relevant to them as no-one listened to their points of view anyhow. He listens.
Thousands of new members have flocked to join, or return to, the Labour Party as full members, registered supporters or as trade union member supporters as they re-engage with the political process, so that the number eligible to vote in the Leadership election is now over 610,000.
Come 12th September the final result will be in, and the party will have a new leader. Until then, just watch and wait, and take notice of how many people are actually talking about politics again, is this something we can call "the Jeremy effect"?