My (Current) Preference for Labour Leader

Image: BBC

When I was seventeen, I signed up to join the Labour Party, and have been a member since. This election was the first time I began to become active in the party, alas the election defeat left me very deflated about who to vote for and how.

I am constantly torn between voting for a candidate I truly believe in or to vote for someone who is perhaps, more ‘electable’ – whatever that means.

This article will act as an overview of my current thoughts about the candidates and order of preference.

Rebecca Long-Bailey MP for Salford and Eccles (1)

Like many Labour voters, I truly believed in the policies which were in 2019’s manifesto. For once, politics seemed to offer a slice of hope. No, I was not concerned about the cost because I believed in the type of society that Jeremy Corbyn’s policies were going to create. Any cost was worth it in my eyes.

Rebecca Long-Bailey appears to be the only candidate who is closely aligning herself to maintaining these policies in stating she is, “totally committed to the policies.” Thus, at current, she is the most likely candidate to have my vote. However, I do have reservations about her.

Already deemed as the, “continuity candidate” most closely aligned with Corbyn politics, this label could already steer away more centrist Labour voters or simply those who could not vote Labour due to Corbyn’s leadership. I truly believe in Long-Bailey’s type of politics but whether she could be elected as Prime Minister is another question.

Yes, I would love to vote with my heart but I would also like to see Labour winning some future elections, having been stuck with a Tory austerity government most of my life.

Keir Starmer MP for Holborn and St Pancras (2)

Already in the lead by a mile, Keir Starmer allegedly is the most popular candidate, having secured the most backing from MPs and by the largest trade union in the United Kingdom, Unison.

Starmer’s legal background on the one hand, gives him credibility as a leader and challenger to Boris Johnson. He’d probably be great in the House of Commons and in debate. However, I fail to be convinced by his politics. He was the architect of Labour’s Brexit position in the 2019 election, which arguably, lost them the General Election. Additionally, he is another member of the London elite, which will perhaps do him no favors in winning back Northern, working-class voters.

Additionally, Starmer appears to be in favour of renewing Trident, the UK’s nuclear deterrent, which doesn’t sit well with me. However – I can see him being Prime Minister regardless.

Emily Thornberry MP for Islington South and Finsbury (3)

I used to be more of a fan of Emily Thornberry, before she revleaed on Marr last week that she was rather a fan of the Royal family. Again, another member of the London metropolitan elite, it is difficult to see her winning the trust of Northern voters.

Upon looking at her voting record, Thornberry appears to have very similar views to Jeremy Corbyn. Additionally, she is the most experienced politician in the race and has spent more time in parliament than Starmer. Of all the women candidates, she strikes me as the most convincing. I am hoping that just her presence on the ballot paper will be enough to reduce votes for Jess Philips.

Lisa Nandy MP for Wigan (4)

Unfortuantely, before the leadership contest I had never even heard of Lisa Nandy. And part of having her so low down in the list is influenced by this. She has been out of the limelight since the contest began with most media coverage focusing on Starmer, Long-Bailey and Jes Philips.

The MP for Wiggan presents a complex view on Brexit. Once a proud remainer she came out criticisng the Remain position of the Labour party for not doing enough, but then tried to appeal to the more pro-Brexit opinions of her constituents. Although Brexit will soon be irrelevant (we hope) it does worry me that she appears to be so flippant.

Continuously criticizing Labour’s policies and former leader is also not the right approach for me and doesn’t win my vote.

Jess Philips MP for Birmingham Yardley (5)

If Jess Philips ever becomes leader of the Labour Party, I will seriously think about leaving it.

Being an out spoken critique of your own party is never a good look. Philips has been a staunch critique of Corbyn ever since he was elected which has nonetheless, contributed to the divisions within the party. She is never capable of not putting herself first, which I think is a very worrying type of leadership.

And it hasn’t just been Corbyn at the disposal of her ridicule, Diane Abbott has also been the but of her jokes on too many occassions. Philips even told Abbott to, “fuck off” during a meeting in 2015.

Let’s not forget the fact she is an outspoken, known feminist, but pursues a type of feminism which is only for white, middle-class women. Jess also seemed an eager fan of Jacob Rees-Mogg, who she descrimed as, “a real gent.” It speaks for itself. I could go on, but I won’t. I will leave below a brilliant quote from an article written by Leah Cowan of gal-dem, it tells you all you need to know.

“We need a Labour leader who isn’t going to use misappropriate the phrase “working class” as a dog whistle for appealing to white racist voters, at any cost. We need a leader who will bring our communities together, not entrench racist stereotypes that play directly into the rhetoric of the far-right. We need a leader who recognises that foreign policy, climate change, and the trident nuclear warheads are feminist issues, as women of colour in the global south are most directly impacted by Britain’s wars and exploits globally. Progress has been made on the left which must not be undone by a new leader whose white feminism leaves women of colour and marginalised communities out of a  vision for the way forward. We must continue to believe and act on the premise that a different politics is possible.”

Leah Cowan

Those are my thoughts on the leadership at present – I am sure they will change over the coming weeks somewhat. Remember – if you want to have a vote, you have to sign up by 20th January.

Reading in progress: Ducks, Newburyport

Image: Galley Beggar Press

I am almost four hundred pages into Lucy Ellmann’s 2019 Booker prize shortlisted work, which would usually be pretty much near the end of a usual paperback. However, it feels like I have a life time to go before I reach the final end. Trust me, I am enjoying it really (in bouts).

I was drawn to reading the novel, I admit, slightly because of its reputation but more because of its standout title and appearance. Featuring a blue cover with a rubber duck on the inside jacket, accompanied by the prestige of a Booker prize nominee sticker – I thought, what could go wrong?

The truth be told – I have gone through waves of loving and hating this book. However, one thing is for sure, I have never read anything like it and I definitely admire it for its attempt to re-work the barriers of fiction and the message it is trying to convey. In sense, I feel connected to it as the main character has all the types of worries and weird thoughts as I do.

And it feels especially relatable at the moment, considering Donald Trump’s recent actions in Iran.

Overall, despite its (at times) frustrating lack of format and order; I am drawn to the Ohio housewife’s critique of the world; especially contemporary American issues, however, I admit, I am missing the traditional structures of the novel. Chapters, dialogue, charaterisation and background. But I can’t help thinking, perhaps that’s the very point?

Upon finishing, I will update in due course.

An Election for Change

Image: DW

If you’ve been living in the United Kingdom for the past three years, it can feel as though nothing has changed. Despite having two new Prime Ministers in less than five years, the country has not moved forward and life has got a lot worse for many people.

Nearly a decade worth of austerity has resulted in increasing social deprivation, declining working conditions and education standards due to a myriad of cuts to essential services. They have been preserved by the political elite, whom will never be affected by any struggle. Above all, the legacy of the David Cameron years and the condition of the present day, is far from the promised glory that eradicating the deficit was meant to achieve.

With the next snap election on the horizon, it can feel as though we’re simply repeating political history, due to the 2017 snap election which resulted in the election of former Prime Minister, Theresa May. However, this will be far from history repeating itself, but an election that will mirror calls for staunch, political change.

In 2017, I was one of the, if you like, typified left-wing, young labour supporters, who had a belt of optimism around me. It was my first time voting in a GE, what can you expect? When sharing my opinions online whilst being apart of a Guardian feature on first time voters, older generations were quick to shut me down for my optimism and hope for change.

“I feel strangely optimistic’?! Why? Next you will be saying we live in a democracy!”

“we’ve relied on EU imports since the 15th century”. !!!! What grotesque ideas the young have…”

But like many, I really believed that the 2017 election would be the election of change and in many ways, it was. During the 2017 election campaign, like many students, I could not get as politically active as I would have liked as I prioritized my summer exams which were just around the corner.

Although I was not an active campaigner, I felt like I really found my political voice in the 2017 election. In many ways, it was the first election where I started to truly care. Say what you like about Jeremy Corbyn but he is an excellent campaigner who thrives of the rallying crowds and inspires the feeling of change, as I witnessed at a Labour rally in York, before the 2017 election.

Image: Me at a JC rally in York, PA

In 2017, a year after the Brexit vote had past, the Labour Party made a gain of 30 seats, despite Jeremy Corbyn being reluctant on the issue of Europe and not giving his party a stable stance. The Conservative party lost 13 seats and could not even reach a majority in the House of Commons and as a result, were propped up by the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party). Despite valiant attempts, Theresa May failed to get a Brexit deal passed through parliament and resigned this summer.

With the non-election of Boris Johnson, we have seen a shift in the pariamnetary and political rhetoric in this country. His use of rhetoric and dangerous language at times, has changed the nature of political debate in the establishment. It’s harsher, cleaner and not as forgiving. It appears not to make any allowances for issues other than those defined by Brexit. With the ever increasing failure to get ‘Brexit done’ the parliamentary landscape has got more and more divided and the people of this country more frustrated.

With the election of Sir Lindsay Hoyle, change for the Commons is on the horizon, as yesterday during his election speech, he promised to help heal the divisions within the system and make room for coherent and considerate debate on all sides.

As a Remainer, I inherently don’t believe Brexit is a good idea for the country but now take the position of wanting to get the best deal possible so that we can move on and address the more imperative issues. Although Brexit and its ramifications are very real, especially for my generation who will have to live with the long-term consequences, we cannot go on with another decade of political stagnation. It is time for change and the creation of a political landscape of debate which benefits us all, and not one that just serves the agenda of the elite.

We need to abandon the rhetoric that parliamentary democracy is a barrier to the political project that is Brexit and start opening up the debate to allow room for the issues which have been ignored. I am alarmed that the current leaders can be so consumed by one issue for so long and are blind to the deprivation going on around them.

This election, although being defined by the parameters of Brexit, is not just about one singular issue, but it is a chance to open up the political spectrum and address social problems which have been ignored for nearly a decade. Another five years of a Conservative government led by Boris Johonson will do our country and its people no favours.

We need to move forward and make way for a government which gives attention to the ramifications of decreased funding in all our schools, the increasing amount of homelessness in our streets, the waiting lists for GP and NHS appointments and the climate crisis which is imminently real. We need a government which cares about other people’s issues – and not just their own self-fulfilling, political prophecy.

After nearly a decade of austerity and four years of prolonging the Brexit debate, forgive me for being an optimist for change, but it is simply the only way forward.

Is Instagram a force for good?

Image: Pinterest

Huddled in the dark, wrapped in my duvet cocoon, I used to spend my evenings in bed scrolling through Instagram. I would obsess over people I knew, people I didn’t know and form goals for the person I wanted to be, based on a snapshot of someone’s life. Simultaneously, I was aware that nothing on Instagram was the reality of peoples’ lives, but at the same time I used it to make comparisons about my own life and what I had achieved in that day.

Instagram works for some people, but it never quite worked for me. In all aspects of my life, I have the bad trait of comparing myself to others. Instagram, the platform that likes to sugar coat the daily lives of others around us, and the celebrities we ideolise, was thus, never a good use of my time. However, it took several years for me to realise that.

I used to love Instagram for being able to see parts of the world I haven’t yet explored; through travel accounts and immersive photography platforms. I also used to love it for cooking inspiration, art and fashion. Despite all its many uses, I have had to abandon it to prevent the comparisons I would always make – between their lives and my own. Comparison for me, has never helped me to achieve good mental health.

Additionally, in hindsight, I believe there is something dangerous about the platform. Either consciously, or subconsciously, it encourages us to boast about our lives, our clothes, our wealth and our fortune, whilst others can be left feeling as if they do not fit in with the culture it perpetuates. The more you have, it seems, the more you can post. Instagram and its culture of fostering “influencers,” bloggers and celebrities, pays homage to the tide of modern capitalism’s dream. Sponsored posts by those which we are infatuated by; bear the remnants of global capitalism and its longstanding legacy. We are encouraged to want and to buy.

But moreover, we are always encouraged to do things. To be constantly around people and then to boast about it. Instagram can be used as a platform to encourage certain conversations; about mental health, the environment and period poverty are to name just a few. But I feel that it is selective about the conversations it gives space to. It doesn’t talk about the social stigma that is still attached to loneliness, it is still a foreign social media phenomena to like being alone with yourself and to engage in simple things. It doesn’t allow for a simple, fulfilling life, this is something it will never be able to perpetuate.

It was a platform that I knew was not good for me in some ways, but one which I still used, partly because I felt compelled to. Everyone else uses it without a problem (or so it seems). I remember telling some people I had deleted it and them seeming genuinely shocked as they echoed, “but why” to my response. Well, this is exactly why.

I’m not saying this is what everyone should do – but it is something that has worked for me. I now spend most of my evenings huddled in bed with a book, which offers little room for me to form toxic, idealistic comparisons. But it is a way in which I can switch off from the real world, the blue screens and picture perfect lives of people I barely know.

Social media can be irrevocably useful and a tool for inspiration and connectivity. But it can also be a toxic one, showcasing picture perfect lives and the imaginary reality of daily lives which do not match up to our own.