I’m 86 years old: here’s why I’ve just joined Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party

He’s been dismissed as a throwback, but I think Corbyn represents a resurrection of political ideals

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The Independent Online

As told to Matt Broomfield

I was born in Dublin in 1928. In August 2015, at the age of 86, I joined the Labour Party to support Jeremy Corbyn. I’m so inspired by what he stands for that I am even taking up British citizenship and renouncing citizenship in Ireland, a country which I love.  

I support Corbyn because his policies are characterised by generosity of spirit. The West robs South America, Africa and the Middle East continually and relentlessly. And in another two years, the top 1 per cent of British society will have more money than the other 99 per cent combined. Like Corbyn, I want to see a necessary and appropriate redistribution of wealth, and I want to see refugees treated like human beings.

I became socially active in the 1960s, when people were being made homeless in Belfast. I formed the Northern Ireland Interdenominational Distress Organisation, and we sent food, bedding and clothing to aid them. Nowadays, people from Muslim nations occupy the position that Ireland occupied in centuries past, and so the refugee crisis is the main issue for me. The response of our government is trivial. If we took just a quarter of a percent more of the total number of refugees arriving in Europe, we’d be doubling our intake. It’s inhumane.

The government is frightened of Muslims, but they’re also frightened of their shadow, frightened of reality. That’s why they desperately need to have Trident: they want to pretend they’re one of the most important countries in the world.  And that’s why we need Corbyn to stand up to Cameron and ask if he wants to be remembered for cruelty to people who have nowhere else to go.

The media are the same, controlled by a handful of powerful men. Corbyn has them panicked, and telling lies is their weapon of choice. You can see that in the pernicious response to Corbyn in the supposedly liberal media. He is yet to be given a fair chance.

And I can’t accept desperate criticisms of Corbyn’s age, either. When he was 88 years old, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was named by Forbes as the most powerful man in the Middle East. Manmohan Singh was Prime Minister of India until the age of 82.

They really are scraping the bottom of the barrel. Next, like Bush, they'll reflect their own terror and call Corbyn a terrorist. I served in the Air Raid Precautions Service, and I don’t doubt Corbyn’s patriotism, despite what the papers said after the Remembrance service. Considering Corbyn’s 30 years of intensely democratic disagreement with the Conservatives as a socialist, the unworthy and scurrilous bleat that he is a danger to Britain is risible. He can make Britain great again by aiding the stricken.

Personally, I think Corbyn will survive attacks by the media and from within his party, but I don’t know whether he can win a national vote outright. And so, instead, we’ve got to do things how they do in Ireland. The leftist Irish party Fianna Fáil held power for many years, and then many different parties all joined together and got government in a coalition. If Corbyn can form a coalition with the smaller left-wing parties, then I think he stands a chance of being elected. But it all depends on the support of people like me and you.

Corbyn has been called a throwback to last century. But think about all that was done back then: the National Health Service, the welfare state. I wouldn’t call the Corbyn surge a throwback. I’d call it a resurrection of ideals.

As told to Matt Broomfield