I have been a member of the Green Party since 2013 - pre-'surge', if you will. In 2015, I stood in the General Election and listened in horror at a hustings event as the Labour candidate claimed that 'austerity is necessary'. I remain a committed eco-socialist with a firmly held belief that the Labour Party has yet to fully appreciate the scale of the climate chaos already making its presence felt across the globe. This Thursday, however, I am lending my vote to Jeremy Corbyn.
I've been heavily critical of Corbyn since his victory in the leadership contest of 2015. On numerous occasions, I have found myself exasperated at his failure to land a killer blow at Prime Minister's Questions, despite the huge amount of ammunition at his fingertips. I have often looked on with embarrassment as he bumbled his way through a speech, even when speaking on a subject he is apparently so incredibly passionate about. And yes, at times, I have sensed a soupçon of arrogance, likely the result of the unwavering admiration of his loyal followers. As a Green, this relentless focus on an individual person sits exceedingly awkwardly with me as the member of a party in which the power lies resolutely in the hands of its members. What's more, in some ways, Corbyn personifies the polar opposite of how I expected revolution to reach our shores. The idea that meaningful socio-political change could be embodied by a middle-aged, white, cisgender, heterosexual male runs contrary to all that I believe in.
We can, however, only operate in the here and now. Our country is more divided, more polarised, more unequal than it has ever been. Seven years of devastating ideological austerity has wrought calamitous damage on our education system, brought the NHS to breaking point and literally caused the deaths of scores of disabled people. Time after time, the Conservatives have sought - with a certain degree of success at first - to convince the British people that these 'difficult decisions' were unavoidable. Even now, the 'magic money tree' soundbite exemplifies the Tories' unwillingness to come clean on the widely acknowledged truth that the money is there; it's just tied up in the hands of an extremely privileged few.
Frankly, the country is sick and tired of being told that your average worker must accept the continuous decline in living standards in the name of us 'being in it together', while the super-wealthy hoard their riches in offshore accounts and the national debt skyrockets. The Conservatives have failed, even by their own standards. Be it the failure to curb immigration to the extent they pledged to, the books still not being balanced after seven years or an NHS being sold off to Tory cronies while junior doctors strike for the first time in their history, our country is crying out for change. To be clear, the Conservative manifesto offers absolutely nothing new except more of the same; more cuts, more poverty, more inequality, more asset-stripping. To say that it reeks of complacency and a frightening lack of ambition would be an understatement.
Since this vanity General Election was called, Jeremy Corbyn has proven himself to be astoundingly energised and passionate about his vision for the UK in a way that I genuinely hadn't expected. He has proven himself authoritative where Theresa May has repeatedly shown her weakness. He has engaged with the electorate where Theresa May has cut a haughty figure, opting for stage-managed photo opportunities, refusing to give straight answers to even the most basic of questions and dodging a head-to-head debate with other party leaders. If the Conservatives are to learn any lessons from this debacle, it must be to never again rely on the personality cult of a weak and wobbly leader.
I remain critical of Labour's tribalism; their persistent refusal to engage with the Greens and other progressive parties to coordinate efforts to oust the Tories is a source of immense frustration. Mark my words, should Corbyn emerge victorious on Friday morning, I and many others planning on putting party politics aside in this most unusual of elections will be pushing like never before for Labour's support for electoral reform so that votes equal seats. That, though, is a debate for another day. For now, we must embrace this unprecedented opportunity to usher in a new dawn in British politics, to escape the stranglehold of entrenched Tory hegemony and vote for the radical change that will breathe new life into an enervated Disunited Kingdom. Fail to do so, even when this means voting against the party you subscribe to, and history will remember this election as a golden opportunity lost. I, for one, will be on the right side of history this week.Suggest a correction