Right, so we’ve got five weeks to go before electing either Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister. And although this election has been called in haste … it is probably one of, if not the, most important elections we’ll ever face in our lifetimes.
Firstly, I cannot stress enough how important it is for young people to vote in this election. One of the main reasons why young people are given such a raw deal from governments and politicians alike is because, quite simply, not enough of us get out there and vote. Registering to vote will literally only take five minutes and even if you’re not around on June 8, you can vote via Postal Vote or Proxy Vote (a member of your family votes for you). You have until the 22nd of May to apply!
Secondly, I have a confession to make … I have never voted in a General Election.
The reason, as stupid or idealistic as it might be, is because I just didn’t think there was any party worth voting for. I grew up under New Labour’s so-called ‘third way’ in which the left/centre-left effectively abandoned any kind of meaningful opposition to free market capitalism and embraced Thatcher’s destructive neoliberal agenda with a big smile and a knife in their hands.
The Lib Dems were (and are) no different; and to this day I am still rather proud of the fact that, despite intense pressure from various wannabe-politicos on my university campus, I never fell for any of the patronising lies or platitudes offered up by Nick Clegg and his Shiny, Happy People in 2010.
… Okay, so why have I changed my mind on voting? One word: Corbyn.
1. Contrary to popular belief, Jeremy Corbyn is a good leader.
The mainstream media, which is unforgivably biased when it comes to Corbyn and the left, have tried to spread this myth amongst the public that Jeremy Corbyn is a weak leader.
Now, I am the first one to admit that Corbyn is by no means perfect and does lack some of the more superficial leadership qualities that our contemporary politics has come to admire.
Yet in spite of the hostility he has faced from not only the media but also right-wing factions within his own party; he has won two hotly-contested leadership elections, a string of local and mayoral elections, doubled the Labour Party’s membership and forced the Tories into a number of significant policy U-turns.
What’s more, although the media and their drones have generally scoffed at his attempts in PMQs to put questions to the Prime Minister directly from members of public, I cannot help but think that this is, in fact, exactly what we should be doing. Isn’t that what democracy is all about? Making those in power accountable to the men and women on the street? A good leader is someone who empowers others, often at the detriment of their own power and ego.
Next time, listen closely to one of Corbyn’s speeches: he is always using words like ‘we’, ‘you’ and ‘together’. This stands in stark contrast to his Tory rival whose vocabulary seemingly only consists of ‘me’, ‘I’ and of course — ‘strong and stable’. A picture paints a thousand words, yes … but a couple of words can paint one hell of an accurate picture.
2. The Tories will privatise the NHS.
The NHS is in a crisis. You can’t deny it. Its very existence is at stake. And let’s just allow that to settle in for a moment … the idea of free, universal healthcare for all in this country is at stake.
Be under no illusion, the Tories will privatise the NHS. Across the country, A&Es, maternity and other services are being closed — with thousands of jobs being lost in the process. Competitive tendering has fragmented healthcare whilst NHS privatisation has increased by 76 per cent — a staggering £48billion handed to private health. And under Theresa May and the Tories, this will not stop.
The reality is this: everything the NHS represents, ideologically speaking, is everything the modern Conservative Party loathes: a strong, publically-funded institution that was built with a sense of optimism, collectivism, co-operation and socialist/social democratic ideals. It is the polar opposite of the bleak, cynical world the Tories want to create: one of free markets, deregulation and near-total privatisation.
If we were to lose the NHS, it would be nothing short of a tragedy. Thousands of people would get sick and die without proper access to the medical care they need.
Don’t let them take it away from us. Or our children.
3. Austerity needs to stop!
Austerity has gone on for far too long.
It should be clear to even the most economically-illiterate that austerity has failed. The result, a ‘lost decade’ as some have called it, has been worse than many could have even predicted: lack of affordable housing, a fall in living standards as bad as the 1870s, child poverty, food banks, homelessness, debt, underfunded schools, crumbling public infrastructure and a growing mental health crisis.
Young people have been among the groups most hit by austerity and government cuts. Over the last decade alone we have seen an increase in suicide rates, tuition fees doubled, EMA scrapped, youth services slashed and zero-hours contracts more prevalent than ever.
Young people have been forced, by the Tories, to pay for the sins of their mates in finance. I am sick to death of the superrich farting, holding their noses and blaming the smell on migrants, refugees and people on benefits.
The deeper issue however, is not just the fact that austerity has been a truly destructive force upon this country and her people; it’s that, as Corbyn has continuously pointed out, our economy is essentially rigged. Rigged for those at the top. The rigged economy.
Labour’s policies of a new £10 minimum wage, strengthening workers’ rights, banning zero hours contracts, scrapping tuition fees, re-nationalising the railways and increasing tax on the top 5 per cent of earners, are just some of the things this country desperately needs — but more needs to be done if we are to create a fairer and more efficient economic system.
One that works for all, not just the few.
4. A Tory Brexit will be a f****** disaster.
Let’s be honest, the Conservative Party have now morphed into UKIP. They are a rabidly right-wing party whose idea of Brexit means turning the UK into a tax-dodging paradise for the very wealthiest in our society.
Moreover, May’s hysterical reaction to EU leaders — claiming they’re trying to rig the election — like a bumbling old hag, is proof enough that she will be a spectacularly incompetent negotiator.
Will Corbyn fair any differently? Well, like many young people in the UK I did feel that Jeremy could have been a little more enthusiastic about the EU during the referendum campaign.
Although, admittedly, after their harsh treatment of Greece — and general disdain for almost all things democratic — you can’t really blame Corbyn’s lack of Macron-style love for the overly technocratic, bureaucratic, neoliberal European Union.
The point, regardless, is this. When Corbyn is sat around the negotiating table with the likes of Merkel, Tusk and Juncker; he will be doing everything he possibly can to ensure that Brexit will not leave ordinary people by the wayside.
Because that’s exactly what Corbyn has been doing for his entire political life as MP for Islington North. May meanwhile, has gone from staunch Europhile pre-referendum to hardcore Brexiteer. Flip-flopping around like a beached whale.
The Lib Dems, as always, will be a wasted vote. Personally, I found Tim Farron to be vomit-inducingly bad even before he admitted to having a pin-up poster of Thatcher on his bedroom wall.
Ultimately, the Lib Dems can’t stop Brexit and they know it. It’s time to get real and vote smart. Do you want a Tory Brexit or a Labour Brexit?
5. Corbyn is a good man.
Okay, so he didn’t sing the National Anthem that one time … but you know, the Nazis loved singing anthems and wearing fancy uniforms.
But seriously; Corbyn is a good man. He’s strong, principled and courageous. Time and time again he has reminded us that poverty, injustice and inequality aren’t inevitable. Our country doesn’t have to be like this. Things can change if you have the will to act.
Since the onset of Thatcherism in the ’80s, the people of this country — and humanity in general — have lost their sense of morality. We’ve been spun around by capitalism’s unparalleled ability to manipulate human culture.
Sin has replaced virtues. Greed and selfishness is championed whereas selflessness and empathy have been relabelled as somehow ‘weak’, ‘unrealistic’ or ‘taking us back to the ’70s’.
Now, I am no utopian. Evil will always exist in some form. But if we do not regain our sense of what is right and what is wrong then I fear, genuinely, that our precious world will not be here for much longer. Greed and the destructive pursuit of profit over labour and the environment will destroy this planet a lot faster than Kim Jong-un.
It’s time the good guys won for once.
Vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour on June 8, and let’s transform Britain together. For the many. Not the few.