I've spent the last 18 months criticising Corbyn's every move – but now I'll be voting for him at the general election

With U-turn after U-turn, people are starting to wonder what May really stands for. As her lead evaporates, it's clear that Corbyn's message appeals to far more demographics than first thought

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The Independent Online

Jeremy Corbyn. The two words that for the last 18 months have made my eyes roll so far into the back of my head I feared they'd never return.

When it became obvious that Corbyn would win the Labour leadership, I braced myself for disaster. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t understand why so many of my friends found him so inspiring. After all, I thought, he’s just another straight white man from London who’s been in Parliament for decades – what’s so radical about that?

My frustration with Corbyn has always been more about competence than ideology. I could see that he was a lot more comfortable preaching to a crowd of kale-obsessed students than carrying out the day-to-day duties of leading Her Majesty’s Opposition.

For the last 18 months it seems that he has either been scoring own goals or missing penalties. The most obvious example of this is Prime Minister’s Questions, which became a weekly sacrificial ritual. We’ve all been there, in school or at work, watching somebody who is visibly nervous and unprepared give a presentation. There are few things more uncomfortable. In fact, if it weren’t for the SNP, weeks would go by without the PM having to answer a single challenging question.

At a particularly low point last March, a secret list of Labour MPs who were described as “hostile” towards Corbyn’s leadership was discovered in a Commons bar. The list, which had been misplaced by one of Corbyn’s aides, was used by the Prime Minister to humiliate Labour and avoid accountability for a huge U-turn on cuts to disability benefits.

Hearing the deafening jeers from the Tory benches and witnessing Labour’s decline in the polls left me feeling frustrated that someone so hopeless was representing progressive values. I felt that, despite their best intentions, Corbyn’s supporters were ultimately harming those they wish to help by supporting someone so inept.

But could there be a flicker of light at the end of this dark tunnel?

When the general election was called, you’d have put more money on Theresa May representing the UK at the next Eurovision Song Contest than losing. I even considered spoiling my ballot rather than voting Labour. Yet over the last few weeks Corbyn has begun to win people over – including me. The unsure, inconsistent, tan suit-wearing liability has seemingly transformed into a confident, and dare I say it, shrewd politician. 

Well, sort of.

Jeremy Corbyn confronts Amber Rudd: 'Have you ever been to a foodbank?'

It's no secret that Corbyn is at his strongest when he's out campaigning and interacting with people. Except, that is, in the EU referendum last summer. He loves a good debate and never turns down the chance to speak publicly. This passionate, open approach has been the antithesis of May's robotic, distant campaign. 

While it’s undeniable that he has been helped by his opponents’ failures, Corbyn has shown signs that he is much more astute than his previous actions indicated. Gone are the days of missing opportunities to hold the Tories to account. Each time May has stumbled he has been waiting with the perfect response, taunting and infuriating her at every turn. We haven’t seen him this enthused since Owen “I fought off all the fellas for my wife” Smith challenged his leadership.

Instead of being sucked into an endless battle of soundbites over Brexit, Corbyn has managed to play to his strengths. Public services and housing are unifying issues. When it comes down to it, people want to hear about their local A&E or school more than Brexit. This discovery has been disastrous for May, who based her entire campaign on Brexit and personal credibility.

With U-turn after U-turn, people are starting to wonder what May really stands for. As her lead evaporates, it's clear that Corbyn's message appeals to far more demographics than first thought.

Unfortunately, politics isn’t like The X Factor and the runner up is rarely more successful than the winner. If the polls are to be believed, May will be returning to Downing Street next week, but it remains to be seen whether her abysmal campaign has fatally wounded her career. Still, we all saw film about a woman who ran an overconfident, secretive campaign last November, and it didn’t end well for her, did it?

Corbyn is by no means the perfect character, and while his campaign has been strong, it has not been without its own blunders. Still, voters are beginning to realise that this is a choice between a person who endlessly changes her mind to benefit her career, and someone who, for the most part, has been on the right side of history for over 20 years. Many, myself included, are choosing the latter.

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