So Polling Day has come and gone, the exit poll has been announced and the results are now steadily coming through.
And I am shitting myself.
I really have no idea what to look out for – should I be hopeful or should I just resign myself to my bed and wake up tomorrow ready for another 5 years of misery? I couldn’t decide whether to stay up all night and watch the results whilst drinking heavily so I could nap all day tomorrow, or whether to be sensible and try to sleep all night so I wasn’t awake having dramatic mood swings every time a result or prediction came in. I just didn’t know.
For now, I’ve cracked open a cold cider, the results are on the telly and I am an unusual combination of bored and excited. Or scared. Well, both. Crikey.
I never used to care for politics. Not one bit. The conversations at pretty much every family party on my dad’s side were dominated by it. I remember being a small child and feeling painfully bored by it. “You’ll care about it one day!” they’d say to me.
“Never. I will never care about politics. It’s so boring. I will never be like that!” a small and stubborn Lauren insisted. At a Boxing Day party in 2011 I was so fed up with them harping on about it that I downed a Gin and Tonic and donned my cousin’s old dinosaur costume in an attempt to distract them.
And yet here we are. For the past few weeks I’ve been spamming my Facebook friends with articles and memes and all sorts to do with it. Now the tables have turned and I am the one boring other people with my political rants.
It crept up on me without me realising. In 2010 I was only 16 and thus ineligible to vote, but I do remember feeling disappointed when the Tories got in (with a little help from the Lib Dems).
In 2015 I was nearing the end of my third and supposedly last year at university so I was starting to stress a bit more about jobs and wages and taxes and things like that. I asked my dad to do a proxy vote for me and vote Labour. By then I knew a few more nuggets of information but I still wasn’t particularly passionate about it. I just wanted the Tories out.
I followed the results until about 4am when I fell asleep. By then, Labour was doing pretty well and I drifted off with the hope that I’d wake up to a Labour government.
It rained for the rest of the day and the heaviness in my heart was almost literally weighing me down.
Me trying to drunkenly distract everyone from political conversations on Boxing Day, 2011
Then Ed Milliband stepped down as Labour leader and a few weeks later their leadership campaign took place. I still wasn’t particularly invested in politics at that point, but one evening I stumbled upon an article about the candidates for the position of Labour Leader. One of the first things I noticed was that a man named Jeremy Corbyn was seemingly a terrible choice. I don’t remember which particular website I was browsing at the time, but my first thought was “If this newspaper doesn’t like him then he’s probably a good man” – so my guess is that it was the Daily Mail. Back then I was much less aware of the mainstream media bias but having grown up in Merseyside I knew that The Sun was not worth my time and nobody seemed to like the Daily Mail either, so I went with it.
So I read up on this Jeremy Corbyn fellow and I liked what I saw. The policies he stood for just seemed like common sense to me, so why did everyone seem so against him?
This is when I started to form an actual political opinion. This is when I stopped caring what the media said. This is when I started thinking for myself where politics was concerned.
So when I discovered that Jeremy Corbyn had won the leadership battle, I was pleased.
And when I was the one who told my family the news, they were equal parts pleased and surprised that I knew who Corbyn was.
And on Boxing Day 2015 when I’d had a few drinks and I was the one to start the political conversation off (asking each person in the room “Do you like Jeremy Corbyn?”), everyone thought I’d been replaced by an alien.
I rolled my eyes the whole way through the 2016 Labour Leadership battle, wondering how I could share a species with people who think that a man who wants accessible health services, education and a better way of living for all, was “unelectable” and worthy of a vote of no confidence. Behave.
And I laugh at those people now.
Because I don’t have to start spouting out facts and figures to demonstrate the amazing effect that Jeremy Corbyn has had on people. Seeing the crowds of people at his rallies, the sharp increase in registered voters, the closing gaps in the polls… it is truly heartwarming. Even if he doesn’t win this election, he has done a hell of a job in this campaign and has restored a little bit of my faith in humanity. We’ll see if the rest of it returns tomorrow morning.
I went to his West Kirby rally the other week and it was phenomenal. Actually, if you watch their latest campaign video you can see my eyes and nose in the crowd! (Yes, I did pause the video, screenshot it and zoom in to look. Don’t pretend you wouldn’t have done the same!)
Just to clarify, the only reason I recognised that tiny portion of my face is because I remember the people standing in front of me!
I never would have imagined that I’d ever care enough about politics to have frequent impassioned discussions about it, let alone attend a rally. Yet here we are! Jeremy Corbyn has inspired a whole new side of me that I highly doubt any other politician ever could have. He is the breath of fresh air that UK politics needs. And I’m glad to see I’m not alone in that.
As I said earlier, his manifesto all just seems like common sense. He’s just an all-round decent person. I won’t harp on about individual policies because by now we know them all and the votes have been cast. I will refrain from ranting about non-voters or tories or whatever – I could do that until I’m blue in the face, but then they’d probably think I was supporting them! No, we don’t have time for that. I’m not here for a debate. Now we just play the waiting game.
I just want to express my admiration for Corbyn and the way he has pulled me out of my apathy and given me something to believe in. I haven’t shut up about Labour for the duration of this election and I am proud. Even if he doesn’t win, he has done a phenomenal job. Although I sincerely hope he does win, because I’m not sure I want to wake up tomorrow if the Tory regime continues.
The results are coming in a lot faster now, so I’m going to crack open another cider and hope for the best.
Whatever happens next, at least I can say that for the past few weeks I have had hope, and I owe it all to Corbyn.
It will probably all feel like a dream in the morning.