Let me introduce myself: I’m a Labour Party activist and have been for a couple of years.
I’m a Labour supporter because I believe in social justice, equality, and the responsibility of the state to help and care for those less fortunate in our society.
Being a part of Labour has been beyond anything I could have ever expected. I never knew I could care so much about councils! It’s all so accessible and people are more than happy to support you. Members have been trying to get me to stand for council since before I legally could (it’s still a no!). They drive me to places and give me volunteering opportunities I would never have seen otherwise. I remember going to a party at my local Socialist Club where I was surrounded by people from across the left. It felt like an honour to be surrounded by people with wealth of experience fighting for social justice.
I was fortunate enough to be elected into my Constituency Labour Party (CLP) Executive (basically the body of elected roleholders like Secretary and Chair of the CLP, who direct campaigning, fundraising, and all the bureaucratic things normal members don’t deal with) which, considering my age and how nervous I was, feels rather unreal even to this day.
But I am a moderate in a Corbynite CLP. A young moderate, no less.
Although being young in Labour is great – I love it and all the opportunities it has given me – one becomes aware pretty quickly that older members are happy to listen when they agree with your views but call you young and naïve the minute they don’t.
In all honesty I wasn’t so honest about being a moderate until last year. I was scared of sticking out in my CLP and now I realise I was absolutely right to be cautious. All I was ever told was how amazing 2017 was, how it felt for my friends, how the more people heard Jeremy speak, the more they wanted to vote for him and how we would have won if the campaign went on for only a week longer. I once told a few close friends that I didn’t support Corbyn and wanted him to go. In response I was told the ever-present words: “You’re young, you don’t know what you’re talking about, you won’t get this again, you’ll miss it when it’s gone.” Now may I take this moment to tell you: I don’t miss Corbyn’s leadership one bit. People like me were silenced, discredited and ignored. Identifying as a moderate was either concealed or said in a whisper.
In the time before the 2019 General Election, I saw the crowds and I door knocked day after day while still in education. It really was special. You felt like part of something when you walked into the campaign room, tired, had some dinner and went out again. We all saw the TV reports and I’m sure you can understand Corbynites confusion when I predicted that the events of 2017 would not happen again and that Jeremy Corbyn must step aside if there were to ever be a Labour Government. Corbyn was unpopular and Brexit was controlling the conversation. My Conservative MP increased his majority.
I was originally quite pessimistic about the new Leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer. I thought he was yet another London Remainer type who just wouldn’t get the significance of Brexit, wouldn’t understand the working class and would continue to just drive Labour into the cities, and would take Labour away from me, only in a different way from Jeremy. Fortunately, in these testing times Keir Starmer has stepped up to the mark and challenged the Prime Minister throughout the coronavirus crisis. Starmer’s firing of Rebecca Long-Bailey was controversial in my CLP, but I believe it was undoubtedly the correct thing to do and was in keeping with his promise of zero tolerance towards anti-Semitism. He is setting a new precedent in tackling the problem.
While I remain unconvinced that Labour will win the 2024 election, if we have learned anything in these past months, it is to expect the unexpected. Keir’s little finger is more prime ministerial than Boris could ever be (or at least I think so!) so I remain optimistic for the future of my party. I want a party which accepts all factions. I want a party which does not make any part feel unwelcome or silenced. I want a party which is hopeful, principled, honest and grounded in communities. And, of course, I want a Labour Government.
In 2024 I do not want to feel the way I felt when I saw the exit poll in the last General Election. I was scared Labour was finished. But no, only Corbyn’s Labour was.