I went to Jeremy Corbyn’s super-oversubscribed rally on Monday 3rd August (and it has taken me an obscene amount of time to write about it). It made all the news for its mad turn-out. There was a queue all the way round The Camden Centre and down the road past St Pancras. I’d only managed to get an overflow ticket so I didn’t expect to get inside to hear the speakers but we were squeezed in because Jeremy (it seems right to call him by his first name, weirdly. Never felt that about a politician before) wanted to see as many people as possible. In fact, he even addressed the hundreds of people left outside, by standing on the roof of a fire engine.
This man does mean business and he’s eager to prove it – in the face of right-wing media’s failing attempts to frame him as the ‘joke’ vote. But in fact, for JC it seems it’s not the vote that he’s out to get… necessarily. He entered the Labour leadership with the intention of sparking and representing much-needed left-focussed debate, and he’s done a very good job of reinforcing that (whatever the outcome on 12th September) the labour party has a lot of thinking and reparation to do to unite their efforts and gain the trust of supporters.
When I joined the University of Nottingham in 2010, I signed up as a member of the Labour Society. I knew nothing about politics and I thought uni would be a good place to start my learning. I knew I shared some values with Labour because of my mum. She’s a teacher and a NASUWT representative so education and the public sector are up there in her list of priorities.
It turned out to be an exciting time to be joining the world of UK politics as there was a huge student backlash against the newly-elected Tory-LibDem coalition, the LibDems having proved themselves spineless and allowing tuition fees to soar. So, 10th of November, I found myself down in London taking part in that mental Demolition march with the rest of Notts Labour Society. See my post on the Anti-Austerity March where I reminisce on the event.
Anyway, politics drifted from my agenda over the course of my university years for two reasons; I was sick and tired of the state of it, and I was too busy juggling essays and fun studenty things. But by the time this year’s (my first) General Election came around, I was pretty sure of my priorities when it came to policies and that is Environment. So, while Ed Miliband was busy fannying about pandering to right-wing bollocks and losing old labour following, he lost me to the Green Party.
But I started hearing about Jeremy Corbyn back in early July, and the more I read about him, the more I liked the sound of him. I was getting that pre-election buzz all over again. JC seems to be giving the labour party that much-needed nudge over to the left and the overall feeling at the rally was one of hope and excitement. It is clear that Corbyn has rallied a huge segment of the British public whose political involvement had stagnated out of either frustration and/or self-preservation. His compassion seems genuine and, if nothing else, it’s refreshing to see him in the leadership line-up looking like they could be your old English teacher. He has this approachable, down-to-earth vibe which makes him a very likeable politician; I can imagine having a pint with him down the pub.
At risk, of making it all sound like a popularity contest… Obviously, it’s the policies that should matter, so I’ve had a good look at those – especially the environmental ones.
In a nutshell, Jezza believes in the following 8 principles:
- Britain providing international leadership on climate change and the socialisation of our energy supply leading an end to the era of fossil fuels
- A modern, green, resource-efficient economy – creating 1 million new green climate jobs.
- Ensuring everyone has access to a decent home that is low-carbon and affordable to keep warm.
- Putting people and planet first – tackling the cost of living and climate crisis together.
- Cleaner air – tackling the air pollution crisis in our big cities and committing to full independent public inquiry into levels of air pollution.
- Protecting our ecosystems, wildlife habitats and a compassionate approach to animal welfare.
- An international approach – support internationally agreed, universal standards of regulation of emissions and pollution.
- A healthy, safe, environment, where people and nature thrive together.
… which closely align with what the Green Party pledge.
Having read through the Protecting our Planet manifesto, the following points grabbed my attention:
Over the next few decades 8 countries, 55 cities and 60 regions are aiming to have 100% renewable electricity, heating/cooling and/or transport systems. This is what a sustainable future will look like. Britain must be a part of it.
I will examine ways to allow communities to be owners of local energy systems, with the right (as in other parts of Europe) to have first use of the energy they generate themselves.
We must take action now to keep fossil fuels in the ground – end dirty energy
handouts, ban fracking and set a target date to end new fossil fuel extraction, and
begin to phase out high polluting coal power stations with support for workers to
Zero carbon homes must become the norm, not the exception. To achieve this requires both higher energy efficiency standards on all new builds, while maintaining planning regulations protecting our greenbelt, as well as a national home insulation programme that would save the average household £250 on their energy bill, and cut carbon emissions.
Investment in public transport will both reduce fares and reduce car use, as well as halting the rise of asthma and other preventable air pollution diseases, potentially saving the NHS £18 billion in treated illness caused by air pollution.
The British bee population is in crisis, and England has the greatest decline of anywhere in Europe. Banning neonicotinoid pesticides that are harmful to bees and pollinators must be a priority as part of a multi-faceted approach to protecting our bee population and ecosystems more broadly.
A sustainable and compassionate approach to protecting our environment must be at the heart of everything we as a Labour party propose the British electorate.
It isn’t too late for Britain to catch up, and even lead, this energy revolution.
You might say that the bloke is too ‘idealistic’ but where would we be without ideals?! Wasn’t it ideals that got us the NHS, gay marriage, and many other wonderful things/basic human rights?
Anyway, I’m going to leave you with this great photo of JC riding his bike through London.
**Update** I am actually unable to vote in the labour leadership elections – I was rejected because of the Green Party propaganda posted all over my FB from pre-general election… BUT please vote Corbyn if you have been given the opportunity!