Crazy 4 Corbyn: How Jeremy Corbyn Got The Youth On His Side
Up until the ending of 2015, Jeremy Corbyn didn’t register on my radar. In the same way that I saw Theresa May as an awkward substitute teacher, clumsily filling in for David Cameron when the country desperately needed a replacement, Corbyn was simply ‘that other guy from Labour’.
Many young people will probably agree that the name ‘Jeremy Corbyn‘ didn’t mean much to them until around a year ago. His passionate participation in debates and youth talks was what introduced him to us as a man who seemed to care about our input, existence and future. Of course, these were only the early days of Corbyn’s interaction with us millennials. Brexit happened, the UK voted, and we returned to our realities of unemployment, sky-high tuition fees and apparent obsession with avocados. Life went on, and Corbyn continued to look like, dress like and quack like any other politician. We remained unbothered.
It wasn’t until Theresa May called a snap election that the proverbial shit hit the fan for Labour, which is also when people started paying attention. Suddenly, everyone was wondering what Corbyn would do as the party’s leader, especially as the polls were leaning in Theresa May’s favour. Labour must be bricking it, people declared, as they revelled in the drama of it all. We waited for Corbyn’s next move with open mouths and crippling hunger, eager to see how the battle would ensue.
Jezza stepped up in ways that no-one could have ever predicted. The Labour leader rose to Theresa’s challenge with a few clever tricks up his sleeve – one of which was what many have hailed as ‘the best manifesto of all time‘.
Corbyn dropped that manifesto in the same way that Kanye West dropped that microphone during the VMA’s in 2009. No-one saw it coming. He coined himself a brand new slogan – “for the many, not the few” – and the crowd went wild.
Mind you, the youth was already quite keyed into Corbyn’s hope-inducing rhetoric, thanks to the good work of many Grime artists on Twitter. JME and Akala were just some of the big British names who had taken to social media to declare their support for Labour. Now, I, for one, have always listened to Akala in particular (every word he speaks is like poetry to me) and I realised that JME knew a thing or two when he released ‘Serious‘ back in 2008 – thus, my investment was guaranteed. But consider this, Akala has 123k followers, whilst JME stands at 727k. Those numbers alone guarantee a high level of outreach, and that doesn’t even incorporate all the other artists who were also in support of Corbyn.
With this in mind – it makes sense that the ‘Grime 4 Corbyn‘ movement was born, bringing with it a new wave of youngsters who were suddenly curious as to who the Labour leader was, and, more importantly, what he could do for them.
The one and only. pic.twitter.com/Hv1xS5WP2O
— Jme (@JmeBBK) April 23, 2017
No tuition fees. Four extra public holidays each year. The minimum wage raised to at least £10 per hour. Housing benefits for those under the age of 21. Unpaid internships banned. Corbyn’s manifesto sounded like a young person’s pipe dream. In contrast to Theresa May’s Brexit-centric policies, Corbyn offered something hopeful. All we had to do was vote for him.
The results of the recent general election prove that there is power in the young vote. In partial thanks to Corbyn’s video with JME, about 1.05 million 18-24 year olds registered to vote before the cut-off for being eligible, whilst, through an NME-led exit poll, it was revealed that a majority of youngsters had voted Labour. Labelling the impressive turnout as the ‘YouthQuake‘, The Guardian decided to ask a group of young people just why they were such big fans of Jezza:
‘Corbyn understands us’, one 18-year-old student said. Another claimed that Jeremy is an optimist. ‘I find him inspirational’ A 24-year-old translator declared, whilst 2o-year-old student, Charlotte, said: “He talks to young people, not down to them, and his popularity has risen as a result of that. It’s like he’s become a new cultural icon, which in itself is very impressive for any politician.”
His go-getter personality was shown even after the results revealed a hung parliament. Through his bids to oust the Tories and many appearances in events such as Glastonbury Festival, Jezza persisted. He mourned with people in the streets after Grenfell, and spoke out against austerity in a recent march. His vocal spirit was refreshing and in clear opposition to Theresa May, whose presence could only be felt if in relation to an invisible money tree, Brexit or Donald Trump.
It shouldn’t be assumed, however, that youngsters developed an interest in politics solely because of Jezza. We always cared. We just didn’t know how to be heard, and attempting to speak out amongst the patronising voices of UKIP and the Tories seemed more painful than banging ones head against a wall. After Brexit, there was a wide space available for someone to slip in and finally start listening to the youth. Jezza just happened to fill that gap and then some. T-shirts with the words “Jez We Can” were printed with his face depicted in Obama-esque glory. Music was made to celebrate his existence. Danny DeVito, Pamela Anderson and Bernie Sanders were singing his praises. Jeremy Corbyn had suddenly become an icon.
Hopefully a lesson will be learned from Labour’s improvement in the polls. Jeremy Corbyn took a step outside of the bubble that politicians often live in, opened his eyes and actually started treating citizens like they weren’t a nuisance.
Whilst Theresa May has struck a deal with the DUP, it’s only a matter of time before another election rolls by, and when that time comes, people better pay attention to the youth.
Because, as proven by Jezza: we definitely matter.
Let us know what you think in the comments!
Images via Getty/I-D Magazine/Giphy/The Guardian