The Mancunion speaks to students from across the political spectrum about their reaction to Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Leader of the Labour Party
Jeremy Corbyn’s election as the new leader of the Labour Party has divided public opinion. Corbyn’s higher education policies in particular have come under fire from inside and outside of the party.
Labour’s policy on tuition fees in the General Election campaign was to reduce them from £9000 to £6000. Yet, Corbyn has pledged to find £10 billion in order to scrap tuition fees and bring back grants.
Corbyn attracted over 100000 volunteers to his campaign, more than any other candidate. His Higher Education policy, alongside his anti-austerity stance, meant that many of these volunteers were students.
Political commentators repeatedly speak of the widespread backing Corbyn had attracted from the young. Yet it appears that even for students views on Corbyn are divided.
Adam Rowe a 21-year-old third year student from Birmingham believes Corbyn to be a “very bad choice for Labour […] the party has taken themselves back to the un-electable days of the 1980s.
“There was a reason that Blair was elected to three terms, that’s because he was popular nationwide. Corbyn is too radical to be leading the Opposition and there isn’t a public appetite for his style of politics.
“As well as his unpopular politics he is also fast losing support through disrespectful behaviour and dress, highlighted at the Battle of Britain memorial service earlier this week. If he stays as leader, Labour should be prepared for a third term of Tory government.”
Josh Woolas, last year’s Chair of Manchester Labour Students, who voted for Yvette Cooper said: “I was quite disappointed by the decisions the Labour Party have made last week.
“I’m not optimistic that either Sadiq Khan or Jeremy Corbyn will win the elections that Britain needs them to win, but their mandate to try to do so is undeniable. I’m excited to be proved wrong though, and look forward to get back on the doorstep spreading the Labour message.”
In a joint statement, this year’s Labour Chairs, Mo Ahmed and Ally Routledge, said: “Firstly, we would like to congratulate Jeremy on his resounding victory to lead our party. The leadership election has triggered a huge increase in our membership and we are looking forward to meeting so many new Labour Party members throughout the year.
“We suffered a difficult defeat in May, and are so worried about what the Tories will do for the next five years, especially to students. We are really looking forward to campaigning against the abolishment of Maintenance Grants as part of the Labour Students’ ‘Unlock Education’ campaign.
“We are also really excited to get back out on the doorstep for local council, Scottish and Welsh assembly elections and to get London a Labour Mayor again and working towards a Labour victory in 2020.”
The Mancunion also spoke to Green voter Eve Foster, a third year English Literature student at the University of Manchester, and asked whether Corbyn’s leadership could potentially tempt her back to Labour in 2020.
Eve responded, saying “I come from a Labour household, much of which has turned to the Green Party in recent elections, especially after Tony Blair’s invasion of Iraq.
“Now that Corbyn has been elected, I have considered voting Labour, as their views and mine are beginning to align again. In addition to this, Corbyn has created a shadow secretary for Mental Health, something not only very important to me but that shows a willingness to change the current system.
“For Corbyn to win my vote he would have to maintain these views and not allow them to be softened or shaped by the more central members of the Labour party, and uphold them in their manifesto.
“However, maintaining his stance may prove difficult as already Labour sources are saying that he will sing the national anthem at future events, and already he seems to have had a turn-around in his stance on high speed rail—he has also pledged to remain leader even if Labour back Trident renewal, all of which might cause me to vote Green again.”
Hannah McCarthy, the Students’ Union’s Campaigns and Citizenship officer spoke to The Mancunion about what she believed Corbyn’s election meant for campaigns across campus:
“Jeremy Corbyn being elected as leader of the Labour Party represents a shift in the narrative, and a disbelief in the fact that austerity is inevitable or justified. With such an impressive mandate, this represents the desire for a more just, fair and equal society and the possibility that once ‘inconceivable’ demands, such as free education, can enter into the mainstream. How exciting!”