We are not doing celebrity, personality, abusive politics – we are doing ideas. This is about hope. Jeremy Corbyn
The funny thing about hope is that it doesn’t take much of it to make a difference to your day, to a generation, to a nation. Hope is what happened yesterday in the British elections.
I was at work on the other side of the world, it was my day time as the UK results started trickling in at 10am/pm depending on one’s antipodean situation. I’m an ex-pat Brit living in New Zealand and I have taken very little interest in British elections because they still embrace first past the post instead of proportional representation, and consequently have an inherently unfair system that inevitably results in maintaining the status quo for the privileged. To add insult to injury, I had been disgusted with the result of the Brexit vote, so had pretty much written off the island kingdom.
This time felt different however, as the British Labour Party has been going through a process, either rebirth or death throes. The media and political punditry (both right and left of the spectrum) have for months claimed it to be the latter.
Throughout the day I sneakily watched online updates on the Guardian website with trepidation, fearing that my homeland would once again be swayed by the stale message of ‘strong and stable leadership’. But from the moment the exit polls indicated something else might be afoot, I was transfixed and a small flame flared up in my heart.
It had already been obvious that the Labour Party leader had tapped into a yearning in members of the voting public, not the wealthy ones of course, but the ordinary Joes, a bit like the folk left behind in the US who upturned that nation’s political world back in November. You’d have thought the chattering elite would have learned a lesson by now. But no, the message of austerity and gloom continued to be spread as one of no alternative.
Trouble is people cannot live with doom and gloom. A wise man in biblical times wrote: ‘where there is not vision, the people perish’, and a truer word could not apply more to modern times. Of course the message that Jeremy Corbyn has to offer was very different from Donald Trump’s, based as it is on a lifetime of service to others (as opposed to self-serving), and a philosophy that puts the welfare of all above the benefit of a small elite (compared with the wheeler-dealing trader of tinsel).
Young and old, poor and some middle-classed responded and made it patently clear to all the pundits who had rubbished, scorned, denigrated, and insulted Corbyn for many months, that they liked to have a bit of hope.
Even if the reins of power were not quite achieved yesterday, something has changed,
and it felt like a victory.
The calvinistic work ethic, that some have to do it hard, that’s just their lot in life, accept it and knuckle down, has been rejected. Instead, we can work together to make a fairer society, doesn’t seem such a wishy washy dreamer’s plaint.
The multitudes that got out, attended rallies, door knocked, spoke to unbelieving family and friends, have shown that there are indeed many of us who share a common goal. We are legion, and there are many more, who maybe did not have the courage to act on what they hoped for, but now have seen what can be achieved with a concerted effort.
Some might say a gentle revolution has taken place. Some of those monied, and powerful elites might be shaken by what they have seen. Despite the overwhelming odds of a negative and biased media, a popular movement has begun, bypassing the traditional or expected behaviours. My hope is that it will spread, because we all need hope, as we all need food, water and air. It is the essence of life as a human being.
Hope springs eternal is a tired and at times meaningless proverb, nonetheless it is true. Hope is what religion is based on, and every society has been built around it. People can endure horrendous suffering if they believe it will come to an end and a better future awaits. Hope is built into our psyche, even the most despicable depots and torturers rely on it to break their prisoners.
By the same token, it will be important to build on that hope, to feed it, to make sure it comes to pass, because ‘hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life’; without it, there is death, both literal and metaphorical.
My hope is that my country, which is facing an election in September will learn from the UK, that our media will start to balance its coverage of the various parties and critically examine the policies without bias. I hope that the left of centre parties who have, for some time, thought their only path was to move rightwards to attract the voters, will now understand that is not the way to woo. There has to be something very different on offer, not more of the same wrapped up with a different coloured bow.
A warning has been sounded to all complacent governments, your days are numbered if you do not fulfill your obligation and duty to care for your people. If you continue to tread down the down-trodden, they will rise up when a suitable leader speaks the words they long to hear, and offers a different path. We all basically want the same things, home, warmth, food, safety, love, fulfilment, purpose. It’s just that some people have those, without seeming to understand that everyone needs them, and are unwilling to share.
John Lennon sang in 1971:
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…