• Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

Fringe 2023: In Conversation With… Jeremy Corbyn

ByNaomi Wallace

Aug 25, 2023
Jeremy Corbyn looks thoughtfully at an interviewer holding a microphone, with their back to the camera.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

It is as though a celebrity is in the room as Jeremy Corbyn walks onto the stage to a thunder of cheers and applause. There is a humility to him as his somewhat bemused smile meets the crowd’s enthusiasm, despite having been a well-loved figure in politics for a long while now. The interview that followed, with Corbyn providing thoughtful, honest responses to the questions, covered a range of subjects, from poetry to Scottish Independence.

The opening question about football felt somewhat jarring, a slightly awkward attempt to start the interview on a lighter not but not one that felt hugely interesting to either Corbyn or the audience (except the single Arsenal fan who cheered from the crowd). We did have a collective laugh as the Scottish interviewer asked Corbyn which Glasgow football team he would support- a question he avoided dividing the room with by briskly laughing past it.

Nevertheless, it was enjoyable to hear Corbyn talk about things he is passionate about outside of politics, particularly his upcoming poetry collection in collaboration with Len McCluskey, Poetry for the Many. The interviewer asked Corbyn who his favourite poet in the collection is, which received the admittedly predictable answer of Percy Bysshe Shelley, but a solid one, nonetheless. More amusing was his recollection of the recent misunderstanding when he posted an extract of Shelley’s poetry on Twitter and media outlets, not realising who had written it, accused Corbyn himself of being a terrible poet. I remember this happening, so it was funny to hear Corbyn’s perspective on the situation and share in his amused exhaustion with the press. He also shared a lovely anecdote from a press talk for the poetry collection in Liverpool, where some audience members stood up to recite their own poetry; this seems to be part of the inspiration for a second poetry collection, Poetry from the Many, which he hinted towards. His glistening love for the arts, and, returning to his political role, desire to widen accessibility within them, is admirable and great to listen to.

Naturally though, the conversation did progress to politics, as we would all hope and expect from the former leader of the Labour Party. Corbyn is truly a rousing speaker, with a particularly convincing section on the housing crisis and issues with social housing. He offered an angle on the Right to Buy scheme that I had never considered before. Backing this up with examples from his own constituency, his points were grounded and compelling and certainly left me with a lot to think about.

But it was the Q & A section at the end that extracted the most interesting responses from Corbyn. He patently declared “I think I have been treated unfairly by the Labour Party”, a satisfying and direct answer to the question that felt as though it stemmed from honesty rather than a desire to create a quotable moment.

You could feel the air in the room change as an audience member asked the question that I’m certain most English politicians who visit Scotland dread. But Corbyn once again gave an eloquent answer, offering his support for a Scottish Independence Referendum and stating that he disagrees with the power from Westminster to veto this.

There is a reason for the continued support from Jeremy Corbyn. He is a politician driven by principles and passion for making change, within and outside of Parliament. He tells us that politics is not about political parties, but the people who seek to enact change in any environment. Politics can be a hopeless place, but In Conversation With… Jeremy Corbyn is a reminder that decent people have a voice that can and will be heard over the clamour of the central Westminster.

Image provided to The Student as press material.

By Naomi Wallace

Welfare Officer