I'm a student Labour supporter - but I just quit the party over Jeremy Corbyn

Membership of Labour is falling for the first time since the 2015 general election. Young supporters like me are growing tired of the hysteria surrounding Corbyn

Caitlin Doherty
Friday 25 March 2016 10:25
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"There was a new guy on the Labour scene: a guy who looked oddly like your granddad, wore tweed suits and rode a pushbike through Islington."
"There was a new guy on the Labour scene: a guy who looked oddly like your granddad, wore tweed suits and rode a pushbike through Islington."

Last summer Young Labour blanketed itself in a sense of euphoria. Yes, our party may have lost the election; our optimism, encouraged by pollsters and the unexpected popularity of the Milifandom, may have been initially destroyed. But it wasn’t the end; it was just the start of a new beginning.

There was a new guy on the Labour scene: a guy who looked oddly like your granddad, wore tweed suits and rode a pushbike through Islington. Jeremy Corbyn was set to change the face of the tired and irrelevant Labour Party, and that hot bed of lefties - the student population of Britain – was understandably excited.

That euphoria, however, is slowly bringing about the end of the Labour party. According to figures released this week, the tidal wave of support that pushed Corbyn to the opposition front bench is coming to an end. For the first time since the general election of May 2015, more people are leaving the Labour Party than joining. And I am among them.

The majority of these Labour “deserters” are thought, like me, to be the students that drove him to success: the idealists who were swept up in the hashtags and headlines became quickly bored and have moved on elsewhere, it is said. This sweeping assumption does Labour students a great disservice.

Students aren’t leaving Labour because it isn’t trendy anymore. Students are leaving Labour because they are fed up. Fed up with the ecstatic reception Corbyn still receives - particularly in UK universities where Labour Societies have become increasingly elite and exclusive to ardent Corbynites, with no room for questioning Our Great Leader - despite very little demonstration of any opposition to the increasingly strident Conservative Government.

In the short time since Corbyn assumed office, junior doctors have revolted, air strikes have been launched against Syria, the North of England has suffered devastating floods, and the government has been plunged into chaos as a result of the most divisive Budget in living memory.

Where has Corbyn been? On the streets, waving a banner? On the benches, delivering scathing counter remarks? Who knows? I follow politics religiously and could not tell you one thing that Corbyn has achieved in the last six months.

Partner this relative inaction with the tense, gagged nature of young Labour organisations, and is there any reason to question why once naively optimistic young people are now leaving the party?

I originally paid my £1 to join Labour Students in 2012, just before I started my politics A Level. Born to middle-class parents with working-class roots, and enrolled at a school that consistently sent pupils to Oxbridge despite being in an area that had been completely economically destroyed by the closure of the mines and the subsequent strikes less than 30 years previously, my naive social optimism founded in a working-class heritage was best suited to Labour Party politics. But I just cannot bring myself to remain associated with the party.

My leaving is not a great political statement: I have not set fire to my membership certificate, or sent any strongly worded letters to members of the shadow cabinet. I just can’t find the energy or commitment to respond to the increasingly frantic emails arriving daily into my inbox. My new-found attitude towards Corbyn & Co? Apathetic.

I am apathetic towards weak leadership that is yet to provide any alternative to discriminatory government policy; apathetic towards the consistent headlines of horrific Tory cuts making it through the Commons unchallenged; and apathetic towards what has become an insular, nasty political community.

I am now apathetic towards the Labour Party – and apathetic towards the left.

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