Last summer, I supported Jeremy Corbyn to be the Leader of the Labour Party. I attended his rallys and events and the atmosphere was simply brilliant. Young and old activists on the ground were buzzing for something new. He was the only candidate who stood out in a dull leadership race by offering hope and a vision for a different kind of Britain.
Fast-forward a year and I find myself at a Corbyn event again. This time, Jeremy is Leader of the Labour Party and he is hosting a rally for Labour IN. Instead of open-air rallys, we are in a stuffy conference venue. The crowd was considerably smaller and older. And there was no buzz in the air.
I wish Jeremy had used the referendum as the first opportunity to translate the energy and enthusiasm associated with his leadership campaign into success at the ballot box.
But instead, there was little action. Yes, Jeremy gave speeches and hosted events across the country. But we all knew he could do better than that. We see the Jeremy machine back in full force now in this summer's leadership campaign. Why is it that Jeremy is at his best when it is just about him? Thousands have been mobilized for Jeremy again, but he has failed to mobilize these numbers for the referendum.
I am an EU immigrant in Britain. Jeremy often voices support for immigrant communities and supports the free movement of people. But the nice words mean little if no action follows. Since the Brexit vote, the futures of millions of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens living elsewhere have been put in jeopardy. As an ally to European migrant communities in Britain, he should have never let this happen. He should have fought tooth and nail for us.
My fear is that Jeremy will continue to take a back seat during future Brexit negotiations. We need a Labour leader who recognizes the fundamental importance of this deal.
When I saw Owen speak for the first time in London, he talked about his anger during the referendum campaign. This deeply resonated with me. Owen displayed the passion which Jeremy never did. Here was someone willing and ready to fight for me and my rights as an EU migrant in the UK. If he had been leader during the EU referendum campaign, I have no doubt he would have thrown himself into it whole heartedly, mobilised activists, and fought tooth and nail for a remain vote.
I believe that Owen Smith, as leader of the Labour Party, will fight for a Labour voice at the negotiation table. He would fight for worker's rights, fight for the rights of European citizens here and UK citizens abroad.
I worry that right now, there will be no progressive voice round the table during the negotiations. Owen will be that voice. I have decided to support Owen because I have never felt more that the country needs the Labour Party. Too much is at stake here.