I have to come out and say something. I don’t think I have ever really felt such anxiety writing anything before and I am a self proclaimed worry wart.
Yesterday I cast my vote for the Labour leadership election and the box I put my X in…was for a Mr Owen Smith. There. I have said it.
I have to be honest. I have been building up the courage to write this all day. I genuinely feel frightened. However I don’t want this to be jumped upon as an argument of all “Corbyn” supporters, they are a baying mob that I am afraid of. Of course I have no doubt that I am in for some abuse, it is unfortunately to be expected in this day and age. At the same time it is worth noting that I have made some fantastic allies on Twitter through my original support of Corbyn. These people are kind, passionate & have made me feel welcome. Not only that but I have actual REAL LIFE FRIENDS (remember those people that you actually have human contact with!) who are strong supporters of Jeremy. Maybe its partly the reason I am writing this piece. I feel I owe them some kind of explanation for my U-Turn. I hope that gives a small insight into the type of person that I am. I don’t like the idea of ‘letting people down’ my decision was not one made easily, quickly or without serious thought. That is what makes it so important.
For those who don’t know me. I was just two days ago called out as a “Corbyn infiltrator” by the wonderful (!) Daily Express, following my appearance on The Victoria Derbyshire Leadership hustings. so it is safe to say this isn’t some propaganda thought up by the ‘evil powers powers that be’ I was a Corbyn supporter. I was inspired to join the party in part, because I was engaged by the buzz around him. I read The Canary (who actually motivated me to write this blog so fair play), I retweeted the stories of the ‘bias MSM’, I felt hurt by the ‘cult comments’, I was in awe of the numbers at the rallies, I felt outrage at the new member cut off and legal case, I was upset at MPs who appeared to call out the leader rather than the Tories, I felt that I was being forced to forgo my own passions for the sake of others and then…I voted for Owen.
I have always prided myself on having an open mind. I understand everyone’s right to an opinion. I take people on real individual value. As long as you are not hateful or have a bigoted mind I can accept a differing view. So when people started to approach me as to why I would not vote for Smith I listened. Now that’s a big point in its self. These people didn’t goad me, didn’t force their opinions or tell me I was wrong. They listened to me! The took on board all my feelings, my hurt, my treatment, my individual views on what issues are important for me and they gave some answers. They gave facts, they showed their sources, they understood me and above all they respected the fact that at that moment in time I wanted to vote for Jeremy.
At this point I need to start talking about the people who impacted on my decision making. The biggest one of these is my wonderful fiancé the Father of our perfect little girl. He is stereotypical of the kind of voter we need to win over. He lives in a city that is a real Tory strong hold, a spearhead of the ‘Leave’ campaign, has distrust over labour due to the economy and has no real affinity to any political party. Now he is my biggest sounding board and has to deal with my ranting, raving and tears over all this. So trust me if any one was going to be influenced to Corbyn it would be him. Yet he told me in no uncertain times that he would NOT vote for Labour if Jeremy Corbyn is leader. It turned my head 360. Because it finally made me realise a point, its all fair and well having all these labour members, the Corbyn supporters, the rallies, for these people will ultimately VOTE LABOUR. What are we doing for the ones that won’t?
Now as I said my other half lives with me, so he hears more than just the occasional ‘MSM’ sound bite. Yet he still has 100% no faith in Jeremy. So you can talk MSM plots all you want the sad reality is that this is where the voter we need lies, and if we keep dismissing it we are pushing it away.
Now ‘Tory lites’ and so on. Lets move on to that. Because I guess a few out there will now use that term for me. Well here is the thing. I am retail worker on maternity leave who if I am honest struggles to make ends meet each month. I come from a Northern Irish family who left the troubles behind in the hope we could have a better life. I have worked in retail all my life. I went to a generic secondary school. I failed my law degree at an average university. The Tory cuts have hit my family hard. As lower end earners but WORKERS we are entitled to nothing. We privately rent, we can’t afford to buy. If this makes me a Tory then I think the goal posts must of moved for the right wing.
I have looked very closely at Owen Smith’s voting record and I can’t find a single thing wrong. Trident is a tough one for me but it’s a really sad reflection of the world we live in at the minute. I had the same feeling as every one else that Owen was just a ‘Tory lite’, but this opinion came from nothing other than other peoples Twitter opinions. Then I was told to watch this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMGc-msUOIM&SNS=em
I was blown away by it. It takes the Tories to task and lets be honest I enjoy nothing more then seeing Stephen Crabb’s smirk wiped off his face, If people are calling this guy out as a Tory then I wonder if this ‘Tory’ insult being banded about has lost its meaning.
Every day I would look at Twitter and I would see less policies more propaganda. Less about potential voters, more about Current members. Now again don’t get me wrong I stood up on national TV as a voice for new members and I support that but do I think this should take focus over potential voters? Sorry I do not.
I hear the word democracy a lot. It seems to be at the very heart of the Corbyn campaign, he is the ELECTED Leader, we ELECTED him. Yet in the same breath it will then move on to the de selection of labour MPs who the local electorate ELECTED. Are we saying the Labour members democracy is worth more than the Labour voter? Are we saying we will win over Labour voters by deselecting the labour MP they voted for in the first place? Is this stupidity on my part?
Kinder politics. We all Know a thing or too about that. I think sadly it states volumes of the current state of this party when at the hustings I attended we spent so much time discussing the conduct and treatment of each other within the Labour party, that we actually ran out of time to have frank discussions on policy. How is this still going on? How is this toxic atmosphere still felt? I cant help to look at our current leader for this. How can I trust him to improve it, if elected, if the issue is so potent whilst he is the leader? Before I get the ‘well the abuse is both sides, Jeremy gets a lot of abuse response’. Let me remind you once again who I am and my background of an open Corbyn supporter who stood up on television. I have had more than my fair share of extreme abuse, bringing my 6 month old daughter in to and pushing me to tears and wondering if I should just quit it all. Do you know what doesn’t dry those tears…people telling me it’s not just me receiving it. You know what doesn’t stop the abuse? Using the fact that it’s so common as an excuse.
You can have a differing point of view but when you start mocking people who genuinely have a fear for their safety I start to wonder what I belong to.
I thought we weren’t the nasty ones. I thought we didn’t turn nasty at people for their views. Well you can’t call for peoples heads because they disagree with you, whilst pro claiming anger that people are calling you out for being different to them.
Khan, Jess Phillips, Thangham Debbonaire. I don’t want to be involved in that level of abuse, nor do I think we should see any of them as fair game.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record I stood up for new members but I have listened to old ones. I am seeing why they feel so passionate. Imaging spending your years giving all you free time knocking doors for the party you love, then the next minute you are being called a ‘Blairaite’ traitor who should ‘f**k off’ to the Tory party. Is that really what we think of people who just feel they want a different leader? They feel let down after the blood sweat & tears they have poured in.
I may have felt that at one point. These people were traitors but then you have to think that’s 172 MPs. One hundred and seventy two. You only have to spend time looking at their voting records to be sure they are not all closet Tories.
What I really feel like yelling at the minute when asked what side I am on is LABOUR!Only these past few weeks I feel it has become more about one man than one whole party. We are more than just that surely? A lot of these high profile pro JC accounts at the minute didn’t even support Jeremy the first time. Take a look into their history and they abused and smeared him. I feel this isn’t about the party any more and that is not what I joined for. I am big enough to admit that whilst I respect and admire Jeremy this is so much more than him. Yet every day it is all I hear, no policies, no talk of the party. Just us and them. Are we not all on the same team really? Do we not have more in common?
When I was so vividly upset about not feeling welcome in the party. Do you know which ‘camp’ got in touch with me? Asked me how I was. Discussed me at their meeting? It was Owen Smith’s. To me, a person crying out to be accepted, it meant the world. Today for the first time in weeks I have had a smile on my face. I am involved, I have people who encourage me to be an active member and welcome me to play what I hope will be a huge part in the future. It is all I ever wanted.
We are sadly living in a more right wing than ever country. It breaks my heart. I don’t want to push people further that way. All I can see is that we will.
I worry this is a fad. That it is a trend to some people (not all please don’t think that) but when it is all said and done and the hard graft comes in these people won’t be there knocking on the doors to get the voters and it will all be in vain.
You can’t just sit back and wait for the change to happen. People are more aware than ever, you have to bring it to them, you have to get involved and make that change. You need a plan. I have not seen any plans. Just the same old theories. We won’t win any one over with that.
I have seen worse division within the same party then I did through any of the EU debate. How can we pull together a country when we are not being lead to pull together a party? People who were friends for years now don’t talk, people who support the exact same causes abuse one and other. How is this setting any kind of standard of a party for all?
The big problem in the referendum was people rested on their laurels. They assumed votes were safe and they didn’t take the real fight to the voters that mattered. It should of been a sure fire slam dunk vote. Only when the questions were asked, only one side took the stance to bring the facts to me.
I don’t want to lose people over this. I won’t judge or think different because of where your heart lies. We are all Labour aren’t we? Lets focus on that. For me the only way I can focus on the party is to go with Smith.
Be kind and thanks for reading.