Jeremy Corbyn’s biggest victory: Revitalising democracy

Jeremy corbyn rally

Jeremy Corbyn rally – as big as a Gladstone or Disraeli rally. Pic Credit; Twitter


Jeremy Corbyn’s good performance  in the polls last night was not just brilliant for Labour. It was also not just because he produced a left of centre detailed manifesto. It was not even because he avoided ” yah boo sucks”  attacks on the Tories or Liberal Democrats.

His biggest victory last night was because he galvanised democracy and got a new generation of young people to take an interest in politics and bother to register to vote. He did this in the extraordinary space of two months.

On  March 24 Tribune published an editorial highly critical of Labour’s performance in general and Jeremy Corbyn in particular. It said simply Labour isn’t working and this was from a left of centre magazine not the Daily Mail.

Lest it be forgotten then the Tories had a 19 per cent lead over Labour and crucially had a 41  to 29 per cent lead among the  18-24 year old group.  Thus at that time Theresa May even had a lead among students and young workers.

Now in the remarkable space of  just 10 weeks Jeremy Corbyn and his election campaigning team has totally transformed the picture of politics for youth.  Not since the barnstorming performances of Gladstone and Disraeli in the nineteenth century and Churchill in the early twentieth century have such huge crowds turned up at rallies to hear a party  leader speak.

And remember these huge meetings predate the invention of radio and TV let alone the internet and the smartphone.

To get youth as enthusiastic to think they can change events in an age of so many other distractions is a mega achievement which leaders of every other political party should be profoundly grateful to Jeremy. For if the idea of change through the ballot box is not passed from one generation to another democracy dies and dictatorship looms. And given it was against a background of two random terrorist attacks aimed at the young is even more remarkable.

Sadly I must say his dream of encouraging young people to participate in democracy did not seem to be shared by the Conservatives. They did not appear to be encouraging the young to  register to vote – presumably because Lynton Crosby thought it would not get many new votes for the Tories.

And worse on polling day some people – including one person with a blue rosette in Enfield and a UKIP and Tory run council in Plymouth – lied to young first time voters that they needed an ID card to vote at polling stations- presumably in a desperate move to keep  Labour from winning marginal seats. Theresa May does want to introduce ID cards for voting – but I am afraid it is not the law at the moment so it is illegal to mislead voters.

The contrast between Labour and the Tories over democratic rights is still continuing after the election. Theresa May is behaving like a headmistress of a rather badly run prep school  – by pretending that she is still running a successful operation when people are stopping paying the fees. She has lost authority and seems to be developing a  “bunker type”  mentality ignoring the reality that the game is already half up.

There appear so far to be no concessions to the democratic process from the Tories – and the main aim seems to be to ally May with the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland – probably adding to division there between them and Sinn Fein. Would she ban abortion in the rest of UK if the DUP demanded it? Would she concede to some of their antiquated views about gays? How will this play out over the present crisis in Stormont?

But I profoundly believe that what Jeremy has started cannot be stopped. There may have to be yet another general election after a few months to complete the transformation – though this will be highly risky in the middle of Brexit negotiations. Theresa May called the election believing her own propaganda that Jeremy was a no hoper. Now she has found out the hard way  that he isn’t and no matter how many pages of propaganda Paul Dacre and Rupert Murdoch use to smear him it no longer works.


Why Britain’s youth should be seen and not heard: the patronising view of a London Assembly Tory

Gareth Bacon: A man who thinks young people should not question him.Pic courtesy: London fire brigade

An extraordinary e-mail exchange has taken place between Gareth Bacon, Tory London Assembly member, and Danny Hackett a 17-year-old Bexley constituent and a Labour activist.

Danny Hackett challenged Gareth Bacon why he has needed to claim up to £2000 a year to get free travel in London when he earned in excess of £150,000 a year – half of it from allowances as a London Assembly and Bexley councillor. Using material from this website he asked him to justify the claim. “A majority of people who live in London pay for travel themselves you should do the same,” he said.

Back came the reply addressed to, believe it or not, ” Master Hackett,” because as Mr Bacon explained later:”I addressed you as “Master” Hackett because that is the correct title for you – you are, after all, a minor. ”

 He went on to explain he was claiming it because he had to pay far too much tax and that  “means that more than half of  it does not reach me, indeed in effect it never leaves the Treasury and exists only on paper.”

Danny Hackett doing something that Mr Bacon would disapprove: Pic courtesy Danny Hackett

Mr Hackett found being addressed as Master ” patronising, rude and offensive” which really set Mr Bacon going and revealed his true feelings about the country’s youth.

“I suspect you have little or no experience of living apart from your parents, university, working for a living, supporting yourself, paying tax, having meaningful relationships, or raising a family. You have little or no practical experience of politics and no experience at all of public life.

“None of these things are faults in you, they are simply factors of your age. .. to be completely honest and fair with you, my advice would be to experience a little bit of life for yourself before you start criticising other people and preaching to them about how they should live theirs.”

However Mr Bacon has offered the youth a chance to vote ( he appears not to want to ban some teenagers from voting on the grounds they are too inexperienced) if he is 18 on May 3 when he stands again for the London Assembly- an invitation which should be taken up more widely.

“You will be able to exercise your prerogative at the ballot box and vote against me – be aware though, that holds no fears whatever for me, as a democratically elected politician.”

 I might suggest that lots of young people take up his offer and see whether he has any fears then.

 Neither Mr Hackett nor me are allowed to communicate with him. “I have nothing further to say to you” he has told Mr Hackett and he has told me when I raised  it with him : “I have nothing remotely to say to you.”

Believe it or not Mr Bacon is a youngish new generation Tory ( he had to tell Mr Hackett he was not an elderly gentleman) with I am afraid a mental age of nearer 139 than his actual 39. I imagine he would very much at home in Victorian England dragging naughty boys to his study to tell them off for daring to question his authority.

But we are in the 21st century and we live in an open society. So what do you think? E-mail Mr Bacon at his public work e-mail address  if you disagree or back him.Email Danny at  Tweet @dannyhackett if you agree or disagree with him.

If you want to see what Mr Bacon earns, where he works, as his strong views against trade unions and demonstrators, it is all on my website at Health warning: Mr Bacon who doesn’t speak to me claims it is ” poorly researched.” Judge for yourself.