Labour leadership race 2015: I'm a student - and this is why I'll be voting for Jeremy Corbyn

'He’s humble, polite, and willing to stand up for what is important. Plus, he’s Parliament’s lowest expenses claimer. So, what’s not to like?'

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The Independent Online

Large numbers of young people have become registered supporters of the Labour party to vote for Jeremy Corbyn. The leader hopeful has acknowledged that fact himself and I’m one of those young people. So, why have I and thousands of others done so? Let me explain.

If this year’s general election taught us anything, it’s that there’s discontentment amongst the electorate. There’s an appetite for new ideas. Just look at the rise of Ukip and the SNP. Anti-austerity Corbyn will win back voters from Ukip and Scotland, the latter of whom voted en masse in May for an anti-austerity party.

Even a recent Survation poll suggested Jeremy Corbyn was more popular than the other Labour leadership candidates with the wider electorate – and fares particularly well with Ukip supporters as well as those from his own party.

Corbyn’s critics say he cannot win a general election. But then Labour didn’t win this year when those critics had a ‘more agreeable’ leader than Corbyn taking the reins. Labour shouldn’t be as centrist and Tory-lite as it is right now. Nobody wants a Labour victory at the general election if it stands for the same principles the Tories do.

Nobody wants a Labour Government that would dish out what a Tory Government would have anyway. With Corbyn at the helm, Labour would move further to the left and represent something different to what it does now.

For example, just look at the welfare bill interim leader Harriet Harman recently failed to challenge. What is the point of Labour if it doesn’t oppose these kinds of bills? This is a prime example of what we don’t want. It’s difficult to imagine Corbyn doing the same as Harman in that instance. In fact, he didn’t. Corbyn refused to back the bill. The three other leadership candidates? They didn’t protest a smidge.

There is an undeniable groundswell around Corbyn because he’s a principled figure that people can trust. He’s someone who has ideas that resonate with people. People can connect with him, and that’s refreshing.

 

The momentum behind Corbyn is so strong that the three other candidates for the leadership have largely been forgotten. I can’t remember the last time I heard them speak about anything other than Corbyn. Only recently, Liz Kendall popped up one day for the first time in what felt like an eon. What did she have to say? Was it something positive?

“Choosing Jeremy Corbyn would be Labour’s resignation letter.”

I should have expected as much. This is another reason why Corbyn is the young person’s Labour leader of choice – he doesn’t bother with ‘slagging off’ the other nominees in the press.

Instead, Corbyn has come out and told his supporters not to personally abuse his Labour leadership rivals. Corbyn puts out a positive message which is something a lot of young people could do with – especially with the news that maintenance grants are to be cut, and more than half of young people will be forced into renting properties by 2025.

Corbyn represents something different to what I’ve experienced so far in my life. He’s no Blair, Brown, or Cameron. When I look at what he promises to do –proposing to stay in the EU, scrapping both Trident and student fees, taxing the rich, pledging pro-business reforms, applying rent controls in places like Central London, and, most importantly, putting an end to austerity – how could I, a debt-riddled student from a modest background, not find that an attractive proposition?

Why would legions of young people not vote for someone who says things such as: “If instead of cutting corporation tax from 20 to 18 per cent, to raising it to 20.5 per cent – a 0.5 per cent increase – that would be enough to pay for student fees for everybody”? Why is anyone surprised that these kinds of pledges sit as well with people –particularly young people – as they do?

The majority of people in the UK are on low to middle incomes. It’s exactly these people Corbyn will attract. Little wonder, then, the right-wing press is scared. In some cases, laughably so.

Corbyn is not unelectable. Personality is important in modern politics, and Jeremy Corbyn has the personality to win. He’s humble, polite, and willing to stand up for what is important. Plus, he’s Parliament’s lowest expenses claimer. So, what’s not to like?

Having Corbyn as leader will not resign Labour to electoral doom – it will reinvigorate the party. To win in 2020, Labour needs to have principles and policies that resonate with people. It needs to stand for something.

As much as I admired Ed Milliband, he just wasn’t different enough from Cameron. Corbyn offers something different, an attractive and viable alternative to the status quo.

The surge behind Corbyn is because of his ideas. Clearly, they resonate and connect with the electorate, and this is why young people, like me, back Jeremy Corbyn to become the leader of the Labour party in September.

Twitter: @lucasfothergill

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