Like you, I have ideals. I have ideal occupations and ideal holidays, ideal weekends and ideal hobbies. If I was to browse a job website and my ideal job was being advertised though, I might not apply for it. If I had an opportunity to go on my ideal holiday next week, I might not book it. Whilst I may be attached to my idea of the ideal weekend, things might get in the way and I might end up doing something mundane instead, of my own volition. Despite my ideal hobbies, which would be quite simple to pursue, I still tend to spend weekends moping about in Starbucks writing blogs about how mopey my weekends are.
Jeremy Corbyn is like this for me, and I suspect for many others in the Labour Party – he is an ideal politician with many of the values, attributes and character traits we crave in our leaders and with a political philosophy we share, yet we are so accustomed to neglecting our ideals, that we feel somewhat conflicted about backing him. We are in this strange position where, seemingly, we can vote to have exactly what we want, but many of us are teetering awkwardly on the fence.
We have become used to having to compromise things we hold dear in the name of apparent electability. We have seen values and policies that are the basis of living in a diverse social democracy become gently sidelined and passed over into the realm of a supposed ‘extreme left’. As mainstream Labour voters, we have grown complacent with the fact that there aren’t enough council houses, that private businesses make profit from our imperfect health and education systems and with the fact that we have an achingly unequal society where social mobility is low, where racial and religious divides are gently intensifying and where privilege is contagious and heritable and only the poor are immune.
Jeremy Corbyn has a solid record of voting and acting from a point of principle, another thing we are not used to in our politicians. We are used to eye-rolling as our elected representatives dole out hot air and nothingness in their TV interviews, committing to nothing, denying nothing and seeking to avoid betraying that most dangerous and suspect weapon – an opinion.
It doesn’t surprise me to see elements of the Party touching cloth about Corbyn. For them, Corbyn must appear like the Ghost of Christmas Past, reminding them of the wrongness of their self-serving ways. There are a lot of Tiny Tims in our society, that’s for sure.
Jack Straw stepped out this week to dissuade us from supporting a collectivist like Jeremy, making it clear that the only way for Labour to be electable is to continue supporting keeping people in place like Jack Straw, who you may have last seen prostituting his contacts for money to undercover journalists in grainy hidden camera videos.
For me, I feel that my responsibility over the next few weeks will be to steel myself for the fact that I am going to get behind a candidate whose beliefs align with my own, and who I feel will bring a new style of leadership to the party and to government. What sort of hypocrite would I be to bemoan the slick sleazy BS-peddling of Blair and Cameron and then bemoan Corbyn the fact that he looks like a humble man you might say hello to whilst crossing paths on Mam Tor? Corbyn is the first to say that his politics will be a new politics – it is not actually about Brand Corbyn (though I am aware I myself am currently fetishizing him a bit on social media) but about policy and ideas.
I want to live in a society with a strong and supportive welfare state, with a solid and free education system, with a National Health Service and with a commitment to upholding our rights. I want to live in a society that doesn’t posture its bellicosity on the world stage but instead seeks to mediate conflict with diplomacy rather than bombing the life out of foreign nations, and stating our case for peace whilst crouching behind our nuclear armoury. I want to live in a society that welcomes and prides itself on being a mix of different races, religions and cultures, and which embraces its skylines of mountains, steeples, towerblocks, factories and minarets. I want to live in a society where opportunities are not blocked for people from poorer or ethnic minority backgrounds due to institutionalised white privilege.
These are my ideals and they align with Jeremy Corbyn’s. After years of voting for the values I find least abhorrent, I am now willing to take that most un-British of steps of voting with hope, voting for genuine social change and voting for the values which might, once enacted, bring about the kind of ideal society that I and many others hope to inhabit.