If you had asked a Labour supporter what they would have wanted from Jeremy Corbyn’s first manifesto you would have expected them to bite your hand off. Nationalisation in several different sectors? Check. Slightly increaing tax on the rich to maintain lower it for the poor? Check. Guarantee the triple lock on pensions and more free childcare? Check and double check. So why then are Labour voters, those that have supported the party both pre- and post the Blarite revolution, suddenly abandoned their side at this vital time?
Well, thats can be answered in a single word; image. Corbyn doesn’t have the same smooth talking style of Tony Blair. He looks awkward in a suit. You can just tell that he would rather be wearing his mums’ homemade jumper, in which the wool is naturally sourced, instead of the suit that was most likely produced by a sweatshop that he is morally obliged to be disgusted by. He doesn’t even attempt to put up the same sort of centrist front of his predecessor, poor old Ed. Unlike the last generation of Labour leaders he has something else. Strong beliefs. Beliefs that he has held dear all his life. An end to inequality, not just at home but all over the world. The belief that the state should be there to protect those that cannot protect themselves, such as the poor. This is what could make him such a revolutionary leader. The fact that he is not campaigning on policies that have been developed by think tanks aimed at attracting the most voters, but that he is campaigning on principles. The same principles which he has had for decades. Principles over which he defied his party countless times, not because he was being a tricky backbencher, but because he was representing the people of his constituency.
So why then has Corbyn have an image problem? People just don’t trust him. Sure he might have some of the most progressive views in modern British politics but with almost a quarter of the electorate being over 65 he just doesn’t appeal to enough people.That’s why in recent weeks he has been trying to connect with what would be his key demographic, the 18-25 year olds. Meeting with grime artists such as JME and Stormzy has given Corbyn a new platform from which to spread his message. But he cannot stop there. In order to win this election, he has to be seen with more and more celebrities in order to attract more young people, but he also has to start appealing to the older generations. And Theresa May has just given him the perfect opportunity to do so.
Everyone fears death and everyone hates tax. So the Tories “Death Tax” could not have come at a more perfect time for Corybn. They’ve also pledged to take away the winter fuel allowance for, potentially, millions of pensioners. I say potentially as the government will attempt to make the allowance means tested but have yet to indicate what these means will be. The triple lock on the state pension is also to be removed, downgrading to a double lock. This will be of concern to those that are starting to think about accessing their pension, as it could mean that they have to work longer in order to have enough on which to comfortably retire.
This marks a Tory shift away from focusing their policies on the older generations but it does not mark a shift towards targeting young voters. This can be seen in the Tories total lack of credible policy when it comes to housing for young people. Remember this is the party that has changed the system so that those under the age of 21 are not eligible for housing benefit, effectively creating a new generation of homeless. It also seems that food banks are being so successful that May feels that the government should no longer give out free school dinners for those children in the most vulnerable households. And a free vote on fox hunting on reversing the ban on fox hunting to top it all off. Ask yourself how many votes that is likely to win. Is that really putting the nation first, or is that peddling to the “strong and stable” donators of the Tories that are trying to push their own agenda?
Now read this article again and ask yourself this; who really has the image problem?