I remember watching the amazing performance of Nicola Sturgeon in the April 2015 Leadership debates and the amazing reaction to her policies from an English audience. In fact, Nicola was not alone in winning popularity among the audience, the left wing policies of Leanne Wood and Natalie Bennett were equally as appealing. For the first time in years, I began to feel that change was possible.
On the male front of that debate, we had (slight) variations on the Blair prototype, Cameron, Clegg and Miliband, career politicians raised on a diet of George Orwell and Debretts Peerage alongside a ranting pub bore who supposedly says what (nasty)people are thinking.
I unashamedly miss the days when the Labour benches were fairly represented by men and women who came up through the Unions and the communities in which they lived and worked. And by work, I don't mean going straight into a top level intern job via family connections. I mean people who won their place in parliament through passion, talent and a true understanding of why change was desperately needed. MPs like Dennis Skinner who uses exactly the right vernacular to point out what the tories are up to.
In those days I was a proud, card carrying member of the Labour party, and helping meant standing at the door of the election hall and picking up the elderly and disabled and bringing them down to vote. And it wasn't just Labour who did this, it was common practice for all parties to knock on every door prior to the election, and if a 'known' labour voter didn't turn up, we would go and get them! And just for clarity, there was no trotskyte arm twisting - texting wasn't an option at that time. It was all very good natured and sociable, though I fear those with the more luxurious cars may have had the edge.
The fundamental difference between then and now, is the huge chasm that has grown between the representatives in Parliament and the people they are supposed to represent. When I heard Tony Blair respond to anti social behaviour by stating 'hooligans' would be marched to the nearest cash point and fined £100 on the spot, my attitude towards him changed forever. It might work where the Bullingdon Boys hang out, but it is laughable on a sink estate.
Most of the people I know haven't seen a politician for years - like Jehova's Witnesses they appear to have become extinct. It seems the only ones fearless enough to enter the desolate wastelands of what once was England, are UKIP and Britain First, accompanied by heavily built minders. It may be that those laissez faire politicians steer clear because they have developed a conscience (unlikely) and can't bear to look at what they have done or they prefer to spend their days on social media - they reach more people that way doncha know.
My own personal gripe is with those female MPs who are using their gender to get sympathy and special treatment - all the time they are whining, they do not represent me, or indeed any other real feminist. I cringed at Angela Eagle's use of the female and gay card. She is supposed to represent ALL her constituents, the men too. And for most women, being gay and female isn't the biggest crisis they face right now. Keeping their kids housed and fed and taking care of their elderly and disabled is their screaming number one priority. Ditto those female MPs making such a song and dance about abuse on the internet. As the target of trolls for almost 10 years, I realised early on that the only power I have is over the way in which I react. They get their thrill from the imagined fear/anger/ outrage of the recipient, but tis the recipient that is screwing up their heads, not the other way around.
As for calmer, kinder, politics? Are they for real, try as they might they cannot fade out the harsh effects of their unthinking legislation. How, in 2016, did we get to the stage where we need food banks? What would all those great reformers make of Labour Party policy that has allowed society's most vulnerable to be left destitute and hungry? Those in Labour who have allowed this to happen should hang their heads in shame.
Like it or not there is a revolution stirring, New Labour have for some time been standing on two legs and passing the brandy while the rest of us have been peering through the windows unable to distinguish human from animal. We have almost reached that 'let them cake' stage, where those in the PLP think if they stay inside the Palace and ignore the crowds outside they will go away.
And before anyone accuses me of inciting revolution, I am merely pointing out that history has a tendency to repeat itself (often). Years of austerity and poor bashing has changed the public mood. People have now seen through this 'deserving' and 'undeserving poor' ploy as the cruel and vindictive tory policy that it is. Having been bombarded with 'Benefits' programs, it's quite obvious life on the dole is not the state funded gravy train the hard workers may have thought. It's harsh, it's grim, and it's evil. Hegel's dialectic is playing out.
Happily Jeremy Corbyn is a democratic through to his bones. His sense of fairness and justice puts most of us to shame. Not least the way in which he remains calm and rational in the face of Owen Smith's constant whinging. If there were ever any doubts about Jeremy's qualities as a leader, his ability not to rise to Owen's (or indeed anyone's) snidey digs is one of his greatest. Jeremy is the Statesman I want in the room when the super powers are deciding who to carpet bomb.
New Labour have spent years indoctrinating us not to expect too much. That way we will be happy with whatever scraps are thrown. The internet has changed all that, we know austerity is cruel and pointless and we know it is possible to change the future.
In recent years I have discovered the wonderful philosophy of 'Law of Attraction' - that is like attracts like. Watching the hustings, I cringe at the doom and gloom spouted by Owen Smith, and wonder if we should all go and cut our throats now. Jeremy Corbyn offers hope, and he's inspiring. He gives us a glimpse of a future that could easily become a reality. He (and all the academics) are telling us it doesn't have to be this way. Even old sceptics like myself can see that it's working, that the message is getting out there. And numbers do matter. All the thousands who go to see Jeremy in person, spread the message onto thousands more.