Why I joined the Labour Party, and won’t be leaving anytime soon
Corbyn is bae
During my A Levels I came into the Labour Party as a new member, still very infantile in my political knowledge, an unashamedly self-labelled ‘Blairite’. I would not allow anyone to say a bad thing about Tony Blair to my face, I didn’t have a clue about either the Iraq or Afghanistan Wars and quite frankly, I was ignorant and naïve.
Now in my own defence, I grew up in a house we rented from the Housing Association as both my parents were in and out of jobs. They separated when I was one, my dad was around and I saw him on weekends but my mum mostly raised me alone. I didn’t want for anything, my mum made sure I was always dressed immaculately, and I know for a fact she went without for a very long time to make sure I had everything I needed and wanted.
Without a Labour government for thirteen years of my childhood, I wouldn’t have been able to have half the opportunities I did have. When I was eight, my mum suffered an accident at work. Being a child and watching the strongest person you knew completely helpless really was eye-opening. My mum was dosed up on super strength painkillers, and spent most her time knocked out on the sofa; I had to grow up really quickly. Suddenly I was making my own packed lunches and checking that it was my mum was being looked after.
Having a Labour government at this time saved my family, I was fortunate enough to be a Gifted and Talented student throughout school; this meant at one point I even got bought a laptop through a government scheme. I had Free School Dinners for the entirety. At primary school, any trips were subsidised, but most importantly at home my mum received sickness benefits. The sort of benefits that this government have sought to undermine since the day David Cameron stepped into Number 10.
We struggled, but things like tax credits, child benefit, sickness benefit, and Disability Living Allowance softened the blow. I’m not going to pretend that it was still easy; it wasn’t, particularly when you were brought up in a predominantly middle class area. But, I would like to take upon my life experiences as character building and without support from the government I’d have probably not made it to university.
I missed out on EMA by one year. So, I did what most sixteen year olds do and went out looking for a job. In the nearly five years I’ve been of working age, I have worked in seven separate part-time jobs. In those jobs, I’ve been underpaid, forced to work with flu, forced into a zero hours contract, and finally exploited to do tasks I wasn’t qualified to do. Could I have been treated better under a Labour government? Quite possibly. My current part-time job is fantastic, both members of staff and customers treat us brilliantly and I genuinely love working there. But I know for a fact most people my age in part-time work are treated abysmally, most notably at Sports Direct.
My dad has Type 1 Diabetes, he worked full-time ever since he could, he got made redundant five years ago and since then his health has deteriorated. Until around ten months ago, I had to watch whilst my dad struggled to live off £60 a week not including bills, why? Because the DWP took away my dads Disability Living Allowance.
One thing I’ve always admired about my dad is his work ethic, something I like to think I’ve inherited. Now my dad would work if he could, or more to the point if someone would hire him. Someone please tell me who would want to hire a 55-year-old with Type 1 Diabetes, seized up shoulders, Charcot foot and frequent abscesses? To me it is like someone’s financial contribution to the government is valued over their health.
In my lifetime, the Labour Party had done the most for me, and in most part had done the most for those less fortunate than myself. Even without the official statistics it is obvious homelessness has done nothing but increase since 2010, especially evident here in Nottingham. Not to mention the ever-growing use of food banks. I was outraged when ASDA withdrew collection points last month, but it’s not ASDA we should be outraged with – it’s the fact that this government and the Coalition before it, have allowed the use of food banks to increase in the first place. We shouldn’t need to have food bank collection points, because there shouldn’t have to be food banks.
Since starting at NTU my political leaning has shifted somewhat, quite possibly because I’m studying a Politics degree so I got wised-up on war crime, so I’m certainly not in the Tony Blair Fan club anymore. I backed Jeremy Corbyn in his leadership bid and I’m still every bit behind him now.
I devoted a good amount of my first year to Labour when I wasn’t at Rock City or Rescue Rooms: we lost in 2015 and it broke my heart. But even on Election Day and other adversity I’ve faced as the President of NTU Labour, I remembered what Labour had done for me and I knew I wouldn’t ever give up.