By most standards, things are pretty dire. Political divisions and racial tensions have been sparked in the UK; we face increasing polarisation of belief, and our politicians are trading in democracy for the semblance of calm. The refugee crisis is heartbreaking and unrelenting, whilst horrific acts of terror recur across the world, implying a war of culture, religion and politics. Hope seems scarce: people are angry. This was typified for me in a surreal moment when I noticed that someone had posted a video of a beheading beneath a Guardian feature on where to find the best ice-creams.
But, although it might make a catchy headline, we're not facing the end of civilisation. We must, like every generation, face these challenges head on with strong leadership, a little humanity and cause for hope. Ladies and gentlemen, Jeremy Corbyn. A few days ago I had the pleasure of attending Corbyn's Live Launch at the Lowry Theatre in Salford. There, hope, positivity and determination for a better world and a better future was palpable in the speakers' words and from the 2,000 supporters in attendance -- a fraction of the 180,000 who have shelled out £25 to vote in the contest.
I went to the Lowry with the expectation that I wouldn't understand everything the speakers said: a little waffle and political jargon is normal when MPs try to address the electorate. I was mistaken; what I heard was, rather, passion combined with a strong, positive message: quite simply that together we can build a fairer society. I have to politely disagree with Claudia Webbe that Corbyn is bringing a "political revolution": for me, it was a wake-up call in common-sense.
A whole host of issues were raised -- discrimination, the NHS, wealth inequality, homelessness, anti-Semitism and climate change to name a few -- and simple, practical solutions for each. We could assess the effects of the budget beyond its economic impact; we could crack down on tax havens and invest in health and education; we could empower the people to truly influence politics rather than ignoring public priorities. It's strange that all this sounds too good to be true when it would simply be the result of prioritising the "many over the few" (a phrase repeated by most speakers).
When Corbyn managed to speak in the gaps between standing ovations and spontaneous applause, his speech was warm, elegant and invigorating. His message was, again, overwhelmingly positive and focused on criticising the Conservatives and paving the way forward for Labour. He alluded only once to the media's campaign of vilification against him and paid lip-service to the coup against his leadership -- although this is of course was what the newspapers seized on. Overall, his message was simply one of hope, and I strongly recommend listening to the full speech or reading a report on it.
Corbyn's one vague reference to his scandalous media presentation was a joke aimed at The Guardian, but it was one that hit home for me as a regular reader who has become increasingly disillusioned by their reaching and damning criticism of him. Those I usually love and admire, from Caitlin Moran to J. K. Rowling to even the BBC, have joined in this campaign of relentless opposition and sneering disdain.
I can see why they, and others, are turning away from Corbyn: the Labour Party is in tatters at a time when we desperately need strong and stable leadership. But let's not forget who lead the coup against him and who split the Party against the wishes of the very people it claims to represent. His mandate is indisputable from old and new supporters alike (which the Lowry's demographic certainly suggested) and, for every 'Corbyn ate my hamster' style article, there are thousands more pro-Jeremy comments beneath, from people refusing to see their glimmer of hope crushed.
Whilst I'm well aware that such things happen, I have never before seen such a sordid and sustained attack on an individual by the media. Corbyn is a kind man. He began his speech with a tribute to the victims of the Munich attack and, as Richard Morgan pointed out at the Launch, he apologised to the people of Iraq for Blair's mistakes despite having personally campaigned against the invasion. Under his leadership, Labour has saved PIPs, stopped the forced academisation of schools and won back Thanet's Ukip seat in the recent bi-election, as well as seven others. Perhaps all of this is why the right-wing media are so terrified of him and lash out against him in any way possible.
Unlike Ed Miliband, it isn't so easy to portray Corbyn as the bumbling fool. Don't get me wrong, I was a huge fan of 'Red Ed', but he wasn't helping himself when he tripped off his own podium. When the same tactics were tried with Corbyn it was discovered that most people don't really care that he 'doesn't bow low enough' and doesn't wear a tie. So slander and silencing have been opted for instead, but that isn't working either: it's only pushing the wedge between the working-class and the establishment in deeper.
Corbyn is best equipped to heal the divisions within the UK because he understands the working-class and is prioritising fairer working conditions, stimulation of the economy and improving public services over tax-breaks for business big-wigs or scapegoating immigrants. As he said himself, "you can't cut your way to prosperity": Tory tactics aren't working and we're getting bored of the fallacy that elections must be won on centre-ground. You'd think that the constant bleating that Corbyn is 'unelectable' would be stinted by the fact that he already has been -- unlike Theresa May. He's also best placed to represent us in a time of troubled international politics as he, unlike most, is refusing to ignore the refugee crisis and the destruction of the environment.
"In politics and in life there is a moral imperative of what you do," he said, and asked why we can't translate a little humanity into politics. I find myself asking the same: Corbyn's Leadership Launch was all about taking kindness and common sense and formulating them into a realistic political vision. Surely, in today's world, it's worth a try.