Why I have turned my back on Corbyn... And others will too

PUBLISHED: 21:00 18 May 2018

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 29:  Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn delivers his first speech as leader of the party on September 29, 2015 in Brighton, England. The four day annual Labour Party Conference takes place in Brighton and is expected to attract thousands of delegates with keynote speeches from influential politicians and over 500 fringe events. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 29: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn delivers his first speech as leader of the party on September 29, 2015 in Brighton, England. The four day annual Labour Party Conference takes place in Brighton and is expected to attract thousands of delegates with keynote speeches from influential politicians and over 500 fringe events. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

2015 Getty Images

By ignoring his members, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour has become a party for the few, not the many, argues student activist Rosie McKenna

I joined the Labour party in the summer of 2015, shortly after Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour’s leader.

Like many of my generation, I was enthused by his authenticity, values and left-wing principles. I am proud to call myself a socialist.

I’m a working class kid from a council estate, so Jeremy Corbyn’s promises and policies really spoke to me; the importance of a welfare state taking care of the most disadvantaged in society, funding for our national health service and ensuring that education is free and accessible to all. They still do.

And yet, young people like me have never been more disappointed in, and let down by the Labour party than we have post-Brexit. My generation voted overwhelmingly and enthusiastically to Remain – by margins of four to one. We don’t just see the European Union as a necessary evil but a fundamental good. A champion for peace, prosperity and freedom of movement in a continent too often scarred by war and inequality.

Because let me be clear: there is nothing socialist about Brexit. The Labour party – my Labour party – shouldn’t be championing a right-wing Tory Brexit.

What is left wing about putting up borders? What is progressive about making the UK smaller and more insular?

The great leaders of my party – from Keir Hardie’s quest for an outward looking international socialism, to Clement Atlee’s collaboration with Europe during and after the Second World War – believed in Europe.

And let me say this to Jeremy Corbyn: 80% of Labour members want a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal. Even more than that want to remain in the single market. Refusing to listen to your membership and supporters means you’re a party for the few, not the many.

Just this week, Preet Gill – the Labour MP for Edgbaston in Birmingham – tweeted her support of a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal to a fellow For our Future’s Sake (FFS) activist, Ellie. We’re a group of students and young people across the UK saying that Brexit isn’t inevitable and calling for a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal.

Ellie tweeted in good faith, believing that her local MP would listen to her constituent’s views on the most important issue set to impact her generation. Yet within hours, Gill deleted the tweet. It looked like another example of Labour’s leadership stopping it’s members and supporters saying what they think.

At this week’s Parliamentary Labour Party meeting, Corbyn told fellow MPs that he was going to support the Tory government in removing us from the European Economic Area, and therefore from accessing a single market that supports millions of jobs in the UK.

So this is Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party – for the few, not the many. Supporting a Tory-led government pursuing a course that will make the working classes of this country poorer, and actively allowing the futures of their young supporters to be undermined.

It’s not socialist, it’s not progressive and it’s definitely not Labour.

• Rosie McKenna is a supporter of For our Future’s Sake, a youth and student-led campaign who are campaigning for a People’s Vote on the Brexit Deal. To join FFS, please go to FFSakes.UK or contact them at ForourFutureSake@gmail.com.

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