The Case for Corbyn

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Since Theresa the Appeaser, wife of the head of a tax-dodging firm, u-turned on a previous promise and announced a snap election, the consensus has been pretty universal: Labour can’t win.

The reason for this stark prediction is the fact that the Labour party is currently under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. ‘Unelectable’, ‘scruffy’, ‘weak’, ‘boring’ – apart from any, y’know, actual criticism of anything he’s done, he’s been branded with every insult available to Rupert Murdoch. The biggest one being that he’s ‘unelectable’. A bizarre accusation in the context of his years as an MP for Islington North and the two Labour leadership elections he has won with incredible mandates. Looking at the facts, he’s one of the most popular politicians to come along in decades. Labour membership has increased by the thousands under him, his speeches attract huge crowds, not to mention all the adoring memes from his supporters. When tory-lite Labour MP’s tried desperately to stage a coup, even going as far as to change the rules to block hundreds from voting for him, he increased his mandate. That’s unprecedented. And when was the last time someone photoshopped Theresa May on the back of a unicorn?

But the polls! I’ve seen negative reports on Corbyn’s low popularity in the polls constantly since the election was announced. If the last year of political shock and upheaval taught us anything, it’s that polls are not to be trusted, yet the BBC parrots them as if they sought them from an all-powerful soothsayer living on a Himalayan peak. That is when the BBC isn’t providing a platform for N!gel F@rage, an ex-leader of a party with one MP who defected… But I digress. What I haven’t seen reported quite as much is May’s steady decline in ‘The Polls’ and Corbyn’s steady rise. Most likely to do with May’s half-arsed campaigning, turning up in a helicopter to deliver a boring speech mainly involving the words “stable” and “strong” with a few connectives to string them together. Meanwhile, Corbyn is whizzing round every seat in the country, giving media-ignored speeches with great gusto, to cheering crowds. But this is nothing new for him.

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Jezza has consistently been on the right side of history. Working hard, not for the adulation it brings, but because it is the right thing to do. He is a man of principle, a man who means what he says and sticks to the promises he makes. He protested apartheid while Thatcher was calling Nelson Mandela a ‘terrorist’. He advocated peace talks with the IRA years before the Queen was praised for shaking hands with Sinn Fein. When other MPs were spending half their time attending dinners and travelling by Limousine he was wearing CoOp shirts and jumpers knitted by his Mum.  He has the lowest expenses claims of any MP. He voted against the Iraq war. When people in his constituency were unable to pay Thatcher’s poll tax, he risked prison by refusing to pay himself. That’s some Robin Hood gangsta shit.

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All of this is massively at odds with his ‘weak’ and ‘dispassionate’ persona. The right wing media has infamously demonised him for the slightest perceived indiscretion. Not nodding low enough, ‘dancing’ to a war memorial, not wearing a tie… It’s pretty telling in any argument if your opponent attacks you for such silly and superficial things. Murdoch shrieks and points and Corbyn’s beard while multiple Tory MPs are investigated for election fraud. He’s also ‘mates’ with ISIS and the IRA, basically for not advocating indiscriminately bombing them, he’s a dangerous nutcase who will cripple the economy by feeding schoolchildren and providing a wage people can actually afford to live on. You know the indoctrination has worked well when people baulk at the idea of being paid more and having four days off. Don’t think of yourself or your families, workers of Britain, think of your poor millionaire bosses. And what can we expect? For years the working classes have been told not to aim their scorn at the bosses who don’t provide a living wage or stable work conditions, but at their neighbour who claims child tax credit. It’s extremely effective. Paint your multi-billion pound media empire, your Eton-educated MPs, your smug fascist mouthpieces in tweed, as their advocate. An Australian billionaire who controls a good size chunk of all news media? The voice of reason – look! he likes looking at boobs as much as you do! The guy who makes jam, cycles everywhere, and would refuse to pay a tax because you couldn’t afford it? Why he’s an out-of-touch liberal elitist with no idea how the world works!

I waste my energy though. The biggest obstacle to Corbyn becoming prime minister is not the reactionary right wing press. I expect it from them. It’s the actual out-of-touch liberal elite. Imagine joining the party that started the NHS, the party began by trade unionists, the party made to be a socialist voice for the working person, and then throwing a tantrum and leaving when a guy who believes in all of this gets in charge. It’s neoliberal Blairytes who brand Corbyn ‘unelectable’ and paint him as a ridiculous extremist. It’s them who still insist he is weak and completely unelectable even after, despite their mass effort, he held his ground and increased his mandate. And really, any man who can face David Cameron at PMQs and not make a pig joke weeks after that scandal broke must have a will of steel. I stayed up til 2 am making pig jokes on twitter when that news broke… But I digress. Centrist Labour politicians and self-satisfied liberal celebrities roll their eyes in despair at Krazy Korbyn and his allotment antics, patting themselves on the back for being so astute in observing what a fool he is. Really, they’re covering their own asses. All your mates are saying he can’t win, join in so you don’t look a fool. Also, despite outward concern for socially progressive causes, it’s cruel and unregulated capitalism that made their lives so cosy and they’ll be damned if they don’t cling to it while wearing a mask of benevolent concern for the human rights cause du jour. They hate the problems but love the causes. It’s vital to them that Corbyn loses because he’ll topple their ivory towers. Take JK Rowling, for example. Imagine writing a massively popular series of books about teenagers using magic to overthrow oppressive forces, then decrying an old man in beige who wants to feed impoverished children for being way too extreme.

The world of polished politicians towing the centrist line and faking respectability to get in and maintain the status quo for capitalism so it can screw over people in their own country and poison people abroad is over. We can choose what emerges. Right now, what is emerging is even uglier. Trump, Le Pen, pepe the effing frog… we are witnessing a previously unthinkable resurrection of fascism. Actual nazis are walking the streets unpunched and sharing memes about gassing people they deem beneath them. They get a couple of thousand views of youtube and that gets them a right to speak at universities, apparently. I don’t know if you remember but the last time this happened, softcore liberalism didn’t defeat them. It won’t this time. We must put in place an equal and opposite force, not someone who will hold hands with racist tyrants.

I see it from my peers too. The general idea seems to be that people like Corbyn – they think he’s a good man, he’s principled, he’s intelligent, he works hard, they like his policies…..buuuuuut. And it’s a big ‘but’,

“He’s got good ideas, but he’ll never win!”

“I like him, but he just doesn’s seem like a leader…”

“It’s just the way things are, unfortunately. If he doesn’t move to the centre he’ll never get in.”

It’s hugely frustrating. People see that the system is garbage and Jeremy Corbyn might just fix it, but they passively go along with it. They hold socialist principles yet turn down the chance to elect a socialist. They’re intelligent people who see that he’s a good man and a good politician, yet they buy into the rhetoric that he’s a passionless pushover despite all evidence to the contrary. They say ‘but Labour needs a less extreme leader to beat the tories!’ If the only way to beat the tories is by imitating their every cruel policy, then I would rather Labour not be in power and work as an opposing force on the back bench. People hold the power to vote, yet insist there is no way Jeremy Corbyn can be voted in. If you see what’s really going on and you have the power to change it, why are you passively accepting the ever declining status quo while the world descends into fascism? Will you fight this? Or will you perish like a dog? Vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

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I was looking for a job and then I was looking for a job and then I was looking for a job and Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now….

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In the grand scheme of things, career-search wise, I’m doing OK. I have a degree, I have experience including an internship, I actually know what I want to do, and I’m not subject to racial discrimination in my job search. However despite my constant searching and applying  on Indeed all I’ve got back in two months is a handful of rejection emails from the few companies who actually bothered to send them. Oh, and a call from a company offering teaching work in China which I absolutely don’t want to do but genuinely considered.

Inamongst all the thinkpieces calling millenials entitled, or making fun of them for having ‘fake’ sounding jobs involving social media or having ‘digital’ in the name (someone took the time to make an actual sitcom on the topic), few seem to question why so many of us still live with our parents. I know one person my age with the same education level who is in full time work. The rest are doing masters degrees or working menial jobs in the hopes of finding something more fulfilling. My sister graduated in 2012 and found every job she wanted demanded years of experience and every job she applied to as a short term money maker felt she was overqualified and would have no loyalty. I’ve found the same problem, despite the fact I have a three-month journalism internship under my belt. In truth, the hunt for a job feels like a fruitless, crushing dirge.

Dramatic-sounding perhaps, but hear me out. My recent internship (a piece of driftwood just about keeping me afloat in a sea of career hunting) was not my first flirtation with intern-ing. Back in the summer of ’16, towards the end of my degree, I was delighted to get a call from a local company in Hull who were interested in getting me to work as a content writer for 8-12 weeks. Unpaid, of course, I couldn’t possibly expect to get paid now could I? Their promise was 8-12 weeks with a ‘very real chance’ of a job at the end. Twelve weeks is a long time but it would just about cover the rest of my student flat contract and I was almost guaranteed a job at the end. I went along for the interview in high spirits, it was a nice office in the city centre, and the staff seemed laid-back with lots of freedom. I was told that I was the most qualified candidate. I had a second interview, involving a basic competence test, all was well. I got a call from the recruitment agency woman who had called me in the first place saying they were offering me a week-long trial to check I was right for them. A little annoying, considering I was repeatedly told I was the best candidate, and it was an unpaid internship (I was essentially being offered a trial FOR a trial) but it was still amazing to get such an opportunity considering I hadn’t even graduated yet.

So I went in with my coffee and pencil skirt feeling very business-like. I wrote some blog posts, transcribed a few radio bits they did, had to do some ‘business to business’ copy which was about the most soul crushing thing of all time but hey ho. I felt all was going well. However, after going home on the third day the recruitment lady called me again. ‘They don’t know how to go about training you’ she said (they perhaps should have thought of that before they hired an intern). She told me to take the rest of the week off while they worked out what approach to take. With a furrowed brow I agreed, but told her I felt fine with how things were going.

Two weeks later, I had heard nothing. I emailed the recruitment agency woman asking her if, when I did come back, I would be coming back to an actual job or I would still be expected to work 12 weeks on zero pay. She told me it was the latter. ‘They’re only a small company, so they can’t offer pay at the moment’. I was tempted to point out that this was at odds with how often I had been assured of their rapid growth as a business, and to ask if everyone else who worked their was lucky enough to actually get paid. I replied that I had to decline coming back at all, that 12 weeks of no pay would essentially leave me homeless for a while. She understood. Oh, by the way, that ‘job’ was at a company running a search engine FOR JOBS.

I’m happy to report the second internship went far better. It only required one interview, I was able to work from home, I was paid £70 a week, given one-to-one training, and had to the opportunity to do cool stuff like interview comedians and write previews for art exhibitions. I came out the other side with solid skills and a sturdy addition to my CV. One month later, I still have nothing. Trawling through Indeed.com every day is a Groundhog-day like affair. Content writer, marketing, social media executive and so on and so on. Most are offering more internships, usually only pointing out halfway through the job description that they won’t actually pay you. Particularly with any kind of creative endeavor. They offer ‘experience’ and ‘exposure’, but such things do not put tofu on the table. Those that will pay are rare, and mostly require a candidate with 5 years of experience in the exact same job, preferably at the same company, and a relocation to London.

When you find one that seems imperfect, but you actually have a chance of getting, it sends you to a 10-page application form that needs filling out. You have a CV with all the same information the form is asking for handily put on one page, but they still want you to fill out the form. Call me a lazy, entitled millenial, but when it’s the fifth job application of the day and you don’t particularly want it in the first place, the impulse to give up on page 4 of the application is very strong.

Also while these companies ask a lot of their candidates, the effort is not reciprocated. Job descriptions are often quite badly written out, some with glaring spelling mistakes. Plus, they are often written so cryptically, so ridden with vague business jargon, that it is impossible to tell what the company does and what they want you to do. Take this for example:

“The role of Digital Marketing Executive will be to implement the content marketing strategy for this prestigious business, devising creative campaigns which will help to increase awareness, brand and drive sales and play a key role in driving the next phase of growth.”

Can anyone tell me what the even heck that means?

So where does this seemingly incredibly unsustainable system lead? Ultimately, it means only the children of the rich can get jobs. If you can’t find an internship you can do from home like I was lucky enough to get, you have to hope Mum and Dad are willing to pay your rent. After several such internships, you may finally get a full time job that pays, congratulations! Better yet, a close relative of yours works at the company, instant stability!

This market ultimately has to collapse in on itself. Denying  many young people the chance to support themselves for the convenience of businesses who are somehow disgusted at the thought of paying a living wage simply isn’t sustainable. It isn’t just Wetherspoons that takes advantage, but cozy white-collar office jobs. It’s a symptom of late stage, unregulated capitalism. Everything to appease the bosses, even if it means literally not paying a wage. Recently, a screenshot of an unpaid job at a London anti-slavery charity went viral. It’s gotten so bad that even my classically conservative grandma is shocked and appalled at the state of things. Colliding with other problems like the eye-watering rent prices in most cities and the accumulating student debt of those doing masters degrees to stave off the daunting search for a job, something has to give. And when it does give, I just hope it’s not the workers who bear the worst of it.

Bloody Hell

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NOTILE TE BASTARDES CORBORUNDORUM

It didn’t even take one day.

It wasn’t even noon before the pound sterling fell faster than Han Solo off the starkiller base bridge (sorry).

A matter of hours before Fuckface Farage admitted he should never have promised £350 million a week to the NHS since he can’t actually fucken do it.

No time at all before the UK lost its place as the world’s 5th largest economy.

I hadn’t even had my morning cup of tea before Pig Boy Cameron resigned, leaving the potential for an even worse (and unelected) haunted cabbage patch doll to take his place.

At this point, what’s keeping me optimistic is the hope that everything continues on this slide into chaos at such a rate that the public demands a return to the EU and Farage and his ilk are banished to Pluto.

But it’s not just this clusterfuck that has me turning from an optimistic young person to a jaded, disappointed twentysomething. To be honest, looking at what my country is doing is becoming harder and harder in recent years. I see no compassion, I see spite, bigotry, smugness and small-mindedness.

Take, for example, the microcosm of this kind of attitude displayed at Euro2016. Seeing Irish fans, whom I am claiming as my people thanks to my lineage, has made me smile. Seeing English fans has made me despair. Violent, bigoted, and arrogant – they’ve made us look small and stupid. Just look at this clip of English fans taunting refugee children and throwing coins at them. This is happening in TWO THOUSAND AND SIXTEEN.

The situation with refugees and and the reaction to it in general has made me feel physically sick at many different points. A certain inflammatory columnist (who shall remain unnamed to bypass the mini orgasm she no doubt has every time some talks about her) calling them ‘cockroaches’ was like a nightmare. Watching footage of Nazi rallies and propaganda films about the Aryan race in history, I shook my head and wondered how so many human beings could become so cold, so hate filled towards their brothers and sisters. Seeing that, and facebook comments on far right pages calling for them to all be shot and rejoicing as innocent children drowned, I realised the modern country I live in has every potential to fall into that precipice. And it physically hurts. How anyone can see the drowned bodies of people desperate to flee war and persecution washed up on a beach and think “good! now I wont have to deal with them as neighbours!” is beyond me. How anyone can throw things at children starving in tents behind chain link fences is baffling. No, not baffling, heartbreaking. It breaks my heart. And I feel utterly helpless.

Utter helplessness in the face of terrible things is one of the ugliest and most harrowing feelings in the world. Whether it’s watching disease take your loved ones, or watching poison enter the collective consciousness of your country.

I now live in a country where hate groups invade Mosques and harass people at prayer, where they attack Muslim women wearing headscarves in the street, where they talk about the people who gave us advanced medicine and our numerical system as “scum”. It’s like I’ve gone to a desolate, cold planet 70 light years away, I’m looking through a telescope, and I can see a distorted but sickeningly recognisable version of the kind of hateful atmosphere that lead to the holocaust. We think that it’s impossible, that we could never let it happen again. We’re wrong.

It’s already happening. To Roma people in Eastern Europe. To indigenous people across the planet. To Syrians. We are the same species as people who did these things, who still do these things, we are perfectly capable.

Margaret Atwood once said that people would remark that the dystopian, misogynist society in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ could never happen. She would reply that of course it could.

It’s our duty to constantly fight this kind of hate. Hatred is a powerful force. To quote Hannibal “you are capable of righteous violence because you are compassionate.” We don’t need righteous violence, but righteous force. If people invade Mosques, we should form blockades to keep them out. If people throw things at refugees, we should stand in the line of fire and throw them back. We must treat this as a war, not an invasion.

But we haven’t found our force. We tried facts. This referendum should never have happened, but Cameron needed to cover his porcine ass so here we are. The Remain campaign had a simple message; this is a bad idea. Leave had smarmy, smug, puffed-up rhetoric about ‘taking our country back’ and ‘finding our place’, we just had hundreds of respected financial institutes telling us leaving would be A REALLY, REALLY BAD IDEA.

Apparently, meaningless but sexy sounding rhetoric wins. My flatmate walked past a car on election day emblazoned with the Ukip logo and blasting “land of hope and glory”. You can practically hear the stamping hooves of heroic crusaders on horseback, asserting their superiority over everyone else. It seems the majority of this bratty little island preferred to stick to that fantasy and cover their ears when those goddamn experts with their fancy book-learnin’ tried to tell them not to cut off their nose to spite their Polish neighbour.

We saw something uglier than ignorance too. MP Jo Cox was assassinated by a man who gave his name in court as ‘death to traitors, freedom for Britain’. A man mainstream newspapers described as a ‘timid gardener’ rather than a terrorist and a murderer, which he absolutely is, presumably because he spoke English and was white.

The Brexit campaign then flew a plane over her memorial urging people to vote leave.

So here we are. Our currency is in freefall, Brexit campaigners are backing out of every overblown ‘promise’ they made about NHS funding and restricting immigration. Young people overwhelmingly voted to stay, but we were smothered by older generations voting against our future. Our next PM will be unelected, Scotland will no doubt leave (and I will applaud them) and doors will be closed to us forever.

So well done, Britain, you small-minded, xenophobic, racist, arrogant, pissy little island. You’ve fucked everything up.

Someone gave you a gun and you shot yourself in the foot.

Myself, and the rest of my generation, have lost whatever flimsy patriotism we had, and the irony is it will be more difficult than ever for us to leave the country.

 

 

 

Kindle in the wind

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I got a Kindle a few Christmasses ago mainly because I don’t yet have the money or the space for the Beaty and the Beast style library I always dreamed of, and also because I have to give my Dad specific instructions of what to get me or I’ll end up with all kinds of random stuff. The ebook was a pretty inevitable development when you look at the rest of our modern technology, but what fascinates me is all the debate and near outrage that has sprung up around it. The Giles-from-Buffy types have made it very clear they don’t like what’s going on. As a child of the 90’s I’m fairly comfortable with the technology of the age (except at a recent pub quiz where you had to download an app to play along rather than use pen and paper…that was just weird) but this argument over paper vs pixels goes far deeper.

The first bad point you can make against the ebook is what it does to bookshops. In the cafe I used to work at I remember a woman complaining about her failing business as I guiltily read my kindle on my break. Bookshops are magical places, peaceful places and they joy is in the browsing. It would be a genuine tragedy if their numbers continued decreasing in the wake of the digital book, both for the people who run them and the rest of us. It has always been a small dream of mine to actually work in one, but that might have something to do with the comedy Black Books and the fact that they are never open that long and you don’t have to wash any dishes (I have had five different waitressing jobs). On the other had every time new technology takes over businesses suffer. The printing press ruined the party for Monks, and by party I mean solemn vows of silence and fasting, mass production ruined many trades and if it weren’t for hipsters the record shop would have gone extinct in the wake of the ipod (alas, poor Blockbuster, I knew him well Netflix). Is a sentimental attachment to the we’ve-always-done-it-this-way idea simply foolish? Is there any use in trying to preserve the humble bookshop? Are we just preventing the changing world? I would argue that bookshops and paper books don’t necessarily need to die out like so many vinyl shops. Like I said they’re still magical places and the beauty is in finding something you weren’t looking for. Kindles are good if you’re after a specific title, bookshops mean finding rare gems. Or even finding old dictionaries with 200 year old signatures on the first page, or rare prints that are beautifully worn. I think as long as there are romantics and hipsters there will always be bookshops. Or at least as long as girls like me are watching Beauty and the Beast.

One of the things that sometimes annoys me about the pro-book side of the debate is the occasional snobbery. When people badmouth the ebook they can sometimes give of the impression that they care about the concept of books rather than books themselves. If you’ve read War and Peace on an ebook you may as well not have read it at all. Its about the smell and the cover and the bookmark and how clever it makes you look. Surely the ultimate value of books is in the words. as long as I’m reading it who cares how right? So much anti technology debate involves the “dumbing down” argument, surely this cannot be used against the ebook? I’ve read books I otherwise wouldn’t have read because of cheap and easy download. Free download sometimes. I’m reading the author and that’s ultimately what counts. Like I said I don’t have the money or the space for a beautiful library with leather bound first prints. I would if I could. I already have a small ikea bookshelf fit to bursting. Ebooks allow for acces to work that students and other skint people might not always have had. The same philosophy behind Penguin Classics can be applied – good books made available. There can be a distinct impression that fiercely anti ebook people prefer to keep reading the preserve of those who have the time, the space and the money. Arguably it takes the pretentiousness out of being an avid reader. You could be reading Austen or Stephanie Meyer, who knows?! That being said the anonymity of the ebook means trashy awful hell books like Fifty Shades Of Grey get a zillion times more success than they deserve. I am partially on the side of the book snob.The paper book does have a beauty to it you just can’t get from its digital counterpart. My Mum handing me the most dog eared copy of “Eggs, Beans and Crumpets” by PG Wodehouse that had been passed through three generations and fell apart while I was reading it has no romantic equivalent in the digital world. But books shouldn’t just be about the romance of fireplaces and leather armchairs and herbal tea, they should be about the words first and foremost. What I have noticed too is the upsurge in re-released copies of classics with beautiful covers. Book designers now have to step up their game. They make excellent gifts and keepsakes, you can read the book digitally, fall in love with it and buy a gorgeous new print of it to treasure. Not to mention all the rainforests we’re saving.

As an aspiring writer I suppose it would be far nicer to see a hardback copy of your work with that nice new book smell the ages fabulously into that lovely vintage book smell, but like I said, the words are most important. However it would be nice to have the best of both worlds, the far reach and easy access of the digital book with the romance and the beauty of a paper copy. Ultimately whichever path leads us to become a nation that reads more is the one I choose.