I had a dream on Wednesday night that Jeremy Corbyn stood on the steps of 10 Downing Street, waving to the public and winking at the press. The sun glanced off his shoulders as a BBC News ticker read: ‘LABOUR MAJORITY, CORBYN WINS 330 SEATS IN UNPRECEDENTED RESULT’. The world was in shock, much like when a certain small-handed, morally-dubious entrepreneur took up his seat in the White House earlier this year. Except this time, I wasn’t walking home in the snow. The victory felt warmer; the whole world seemed to cosy up, rather than drifting apart and washing up in remote places. It felt too good to be true.
Well it was, rather. As I drifted in and out of sleep the following night, having collapsed into bed at 3:30am after one too many glasses of sangria (don’t ask), the tinny iPhone speaker beside my bed gently hummed BBC Radio 5 Live. The exit poll was very promising. As if my body sensed something exciting was happening, I stirred briefly at 5am to hear Stephen Nolan announce a certain hung parliament. No Labour majority, (we should be so lucky). No grinning Corbyn on the steps of Number 10. None of this, and yet unprecedented progress.
Having voted in York, I consider myself a winner. Assuming a Tory/DUP unofficial coalition is on the cards, this is perhaps surprising to some. Granted, I’d much prefer a Labour minority government or hell – even a second Tory/Lib Dem coalition – at least their polices wouldn’t be rooted in the 1950s. But I am over the moon, and I reckon that’s because against all odds, this time, the political surprise was born out of kindness, rather than hostility.
Whatever your political perspective, you can’t argue with Jeremy Corbyn’s good will. Labour’s token slogan this election, and one that sounds equally outdated and perfectly suited to our current impatient relationship with information, has a certain Robin Hood vibe to it. “For the many, not the few.” Not bad. Although if someone had told me that line would see Labour on 262 seats come 9 June, I’d have eaten Paddy Ashdown’s hat.
It’s a slogan that you wouldn’t expect to hold up in 2017, given the modern obsession with fast-paced self-improvement and entrepreneurship. Why help the many when I could be the few? If I’m really successful (and I could be, Mum, I could be) why should I give 50 per cent of my earnings away? I can pay for even better healthcare, even better education for my children. This championing of individualism is spurring me on – I can do it! I can–
What’s that? You need a place to live? You need a job? You’ve fallen ill?
Charity begins at home, so the bastards say. Whatever happened to envisaging yourself elsewhere? Jeremy Corbyn might not be perfect, but he doesn’t discriminate when it comes to the main body of society. If every child is offered a free school meal, and not only those who have been means-tested, nobody can slip through the net. “For the many, not the few” doesn’t just mean higher taxes and a further-reaching state. It means a safety net for everybody. And isn’t that what society is about? Advancing together, and breaking one another’s falls?
These are the last words I will write for Nouse. There’s no perfect combination of letters with which I can sign off, but I’ll leave you with this.
I’ve met the most wonderful, diverse and enlightening people at York, and if I’ve learned anything in my time here (and it’s certainly not the definition of post-structuralism), I’d like to think I’ve got a better grip on empathy.
As my mum would say: be kind, be gentle, be patient. And fuck Theresa May.