By Damien Biggs.
“No I don’t vote, what’s the point? They all sound the same to me”. For years this has been the faithful tune sung by the majority of our working class. Its tune continues to be played out loudest amongst the younger generations, those of us born in the 90’s who have never seen genuine political sides and ideology. But are we then a nation of non-political pacifists? Am I just another member of the TV popularity contest generation, where more people seem to care who wins BB or X Factor than who governs our country? Before the EU referendum many would have argued that this was true, that this country has fallen from the dizzying heights of political ideological debate and landed upon the floor, nursing our sore heads and simply leaving it all up to ‘those suited lot’.
But the EU referendum did happen, and with it sparked a great fire of debate in this country, for the first time it seemed that almost everyone had an opinion on the referendum and supported one side or the other. For the first time incredibly large numbers of people mobilised and began campaigning. Why? Because the EU is the only issue that people in this country care about and have an opinion on? No, the reason why so many gave a rallying cry for support and marched to the battle drums of debate was due to the fact that there were two distinct sides. Either leave or remain, neither side held a centre ground, you were either one or the other. It was that vivid and clear cut line painted across the country that gave rise to the largest number of voters casting a ballot since 1992. So you see, we don’t shy away from politics, we don’t dislike talking about issues, we just become actively engaged when we can see a clear difference of opinion.
The creation of New Labour dowsed this flame in 1997, since its birth voter turnout plummeted and then flat-lined, yet to return. This was because most ordinary voters didn’t fell like there was anything to vote for, they all looked the same, spoke the same and acted the same. It’s no wonder then that along with falling numbers of voters pencilling their decisions during elections we’ve also seen a fall of registered party members, not just in the Labour Party but across the board, membership of political parties was stale. Then along came Jeremy Corbyn, for the first time people are hearing a leader of a political party say something different, say something that no other major party leader is saying and saying what the majority of us working class have been thinking for years. With Corbyn there has come a new rise of political activity, party membership skyrocketing, unions being snowed under with new applications, streets filled with party activists marching and cheering. Never before have I seen such passion on the streets, working class frustration that used to end in riots, looting and police sirens has transformed beautifully into a butterfly of hope and vision. Vision that a new way in politics is possible, that looking after one and other is far more beneficial than pursuing corporate profits. The lines of debate have been drawn by Jeremy Corbyn, if he is no longer the leader of the party and we are brought back to the centre ground then the line would have been crossed, forgotten about, debate would no longer be necessary and we go back to a time where it becomes hard to see a difference between policy, where people just stand idly by and their current burning passion with politics has been dowsed.
Damien, 26, is a Head Greenkeeper and Labour Party member. You can reach him on Twitter via @redstardamien