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What does socialism mean to you? Has your perception of socialism changed at all – either during the Corbyn campaign or before?
I think at the heart of it is that socialism is being part of a society that does the most for the majority, paying taxes to benefit the many via education, healthcare and social security. I think socialism is about investing in people throughout their lives so they are always able to contribute something to society as a whole. Equality certainly lies at the centre of socialism too; your chances in life shouldn’t depend on money, your postcode, your gender, your sexual orientation or your ethnicity. Offering people a hand when they are down and not a kick in the teeth is also what socialism is to me.
I don’t think my perception has changed because of the Corbyn campaign it has just solidified what I already fundamentally believed.
Before Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign for the Labour leadership, what was your view of politics and politicians in general?
Having spent my formative years in a staunchly Labour household under the Thatcher then Major Tory governments, politics would have definitely been hard to ignore! So I have always had an interest but not necessarily an active involvement.
My view of politics, like that of many others, has become jaded. Basically it has come down to picking the least worst option, especially as Labour has now morphed into a slightly less nasty version of the Tories. Also, it has become an increasingly distant thing; politics is no longer about the people and local communities it is about the Westminster gravy train and shoring up a small elite minority interest.
Politicians are increasingly cut from the same middle class/upper class/Oxbridge/London centric/ out of touch group. They seem to be more interested in what they can get for themselves from being a politician rather than what they can do for the people of this country and in their constituencies.
So generally like much of the UK population a low opinion and disillusionment of both politics and politicians and see clearly the tune they dance to is the one played by the financial sector, big business, the USA, Arms manufacturers and their own careers.
Has Jeremy’s campaign changed your view of what ‘left-wing’ means? Did you class yourself as being on the left previously?
Jeremy’s policies are what I would consider to be centre left rather than left-wing. So no I don’t think it has changed my view of what left-wing means. However, it’s interesting that the media and Labour PLP use left-wing as though it’s some kind of insult or extreme political position!
I am proudly on the left, but for the past few years have been quietly so rather than shyly. I come from the north of England originally and from a Labour safe seat, but I now live in the South West in a marginal seat that swings between Labour & Tory (currently Tory). Striking up left type conversations down here is far harder as people definitely buy into the rhetoric of benefit scroungers, migrants are bad and kitchen table idiotic live within means, maxed credit card economics. Even before Jeremy came along I had started to argue back against these positions and my membership in the Labour party is part of my own fight back.
The more politically active I get though, the more I find I am very to the left of where UK Labour currently are, Billy Bragg summed it up “I’m still battling away on my politics for the Labour party. I’m much further to the left of them than I used to be, but that’s because they’ve moved not me”.
What has your experience of Jeremy’s campaign been? How have people reacted to your support for Corbyn?
The whole leadership contest started off unengaging and I can honestly say at the beginning I was ‘none of the above’. After watching the initial hustings on the internet and seeing some of the transcripts of the questions and answers, Jeremy Corbyn started to pique my interest.
I discussed him with friends, family and with comrades in my local CLP. At this point there was definite negativity about him, mainly, it has to be said, in the CLP. This probably had a lot to do with a vocal clique of long time CLP members used to being the unchallenged opinion of the CLP, that opinion was Andy Burnham for leader. Not all of the CLP agreed with them fortunately and we have built increasing support for Jeremy within the CLP, and fantastically a lot of new members young, old and middle like me are all Jeremy Corbyn supporters. Things are changing and it is coming from the grass-roots too.
My daughter and myself also handed out leaflets and stickers at the Tolpuddle festival, lots of people were enthusiastically pro-Corbyn, perhaps because it was a union event, but there was still some negativity from people spouting what the press were saying i.e. Michael Foot, England is a right-wing country, Labour have to appeal to Conservative voters. They were still willing to listen and hear the counter argument so hopefully some of these people have changed their minds.
I think generally the response from the people of the UK has been overwhelmingly positive and it has got people engaged and talking about politics, which can only be a good thing. The attendance at the rallies Jeremy has attended has been brilliant to see, and luckily I got to see him at the Swindon Hustings where he went down a storm.
Friends and family members that had turned their back on Labour after Iraq have re-joined to vote specifically for him, the Labour party should be cheering this instead of attacking these people who once upon a time used to be their core vote.
If Jeremy doesn’t win the leadership contest, do you intend to stay politically active?
I do intend to stay politically active as my anger, clarity and fighting spirit has been stirred and there is no going back to my apathetic suburban bubble now! I just don’t know whether I can continue to fight for Labour or be a Labour member if Jeremy Corbyn isn’t elected.
I didn’t actually join Labour specifically to vote for Jeremy (joined beginning of May), I joined to fight for Labour to be an opposition party, to be true Labour and to represent us, the people that vote Labour and on that score I should remain, but……..The attacks on both Jeremy and us, his supporters have been comical and horrifying in turns. That it has come from the Labour party itself makes it substantially worse. We know what to expect from the press including the BBC, but to have Labour MP’s & Grandees spreading lies, lining up to attack and threatening splits if we don’t vote the way they want us to has been shocking and disgraceful in the extreme. This alongside the infuriating and appalling abstention on the Welfare bill has caused my membership card to come close to being returned on more than one occasion.
However Jeremy Corbyn is currently keeping me clinging on as he represents all that is and could be good about Labour, I haven’t given up yet!
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