The Labour Leadership contest has recently ended after a long and I’m sure exhausting campaign by leader and deputy leader candidates alike. The campaign was very different to any I’ve ever witnessed in my life, regardless of party, and was interesting and exciting to watch.
Jeremy Corbyn, who was eventually crowned winner managed to engage Labour members and supporters like no other. During his campaign he visited various constituencies where he packed halls and venues with thousands of people wanting to hear him speak. On many occasions he had to address those who couldn’t get in out on the streets. This is an incredible achievement from a man who only just made it onto the ballot paper seconds before the deadline.
Labour Party membership has rocketed by 150,000 since the general election which is more than any other political party in the UK. Over 60,000 alone have joined since Jeremy Corbyn was announced leader. All this despite the desperate attempts by Tory politicians and the right wing media to smear his reputation. Here in Peterborough membership has more than doubled and including affiliates and supporters has quadrupled.
This completely flips on its head the narrative that people just aren’t interested in politics. Indeed, it shows the reverse, it shows that a large proportion of our electorate have been so turned off by business as usual politics that they felt voting was just a complete waste of their time.
This feeling was evident on the doorsteps when out campaigning to become MP in the run up to the general election in May. Many people recognised that I was authentic and genuine, which helped Labour’s vote share increase by a further 3000, but I personally spoke to hundreds of people who uttered those words that were to become all too familiar, ‘’you’re all the same, what’s the point?’’
Jeremy Corbyn has changed all that and is a real alternative to the Conservatives. In America, Barack Obama won by enthusing those who don’t vote to vote. Jeremy Corbyn has the ability to win voters back in Peterborough. In areas where Labour won seats on the council, the turnout was 50% of the electorate and yet areas which returned a Tory councillor, the figures were at 70% and this is how the Tory MP was re-elected at the general election with a very slim majority.
The Conservatives know Jeremy has this appeal and that is why they are desperately doing their best to besmirch his reputation and degrade his supporters. So it was totally unsurprising when I read Stewart Jackson’s Westminster Life column last week which he devoted entirely to doing just that. If Mr Jackson truly believed Labour were set to lose the next election, he’d be feeling content with that knowledge and would just get on with doing his job, but the truth is he is running scared and his column last week just reeked of desperation.
Here’s why, you know something astonishing is happening when 7000 people gathered in the streets of Manchester this week just to listen to Jeremy speak – this is not a rock star, just a humble politician! Now who’d have thought that possible?