“The Jeremy Corbyn we know…the most decent man in politics”
Joseph Croft, a Labour Party activist gives his view of the Labour leader
18 February, 2019 — By Joseph Croft
Joseph Croft with Jeremy Corbyn
Reading the national press and watching television, people in Islington who’ve known Jeremy Corbyn for many years are baffled by the picture they paint. According to much of this coverage, Jeremy is a wild-eyed lefty totally out of touch with the concerns of ordinary people. And yet in Islington, Jeremy is incredibly popular – and not just with Labour activists like me but also with large numbers of residents.
The reason for this is absolutely clear. Jeremy has been Islington North’s MP since 1983 and during that time has worked tirelessly to support and speak up for all the communities and small businesses that make up the vibrant place that is Islington.
Corbyn critics in the national press have a way of suggesting that Islington is London posh, but the truth is that Islington North is one of the most deprived constituencies in the country. Yet, despite this, its people and small businesses show amazing resilience and ingenuity in the face of considerable adversity.
You only have to walk down Holloway Road or up to Finsbury Park to see this for yourself, but, of course, Fleet Street journalists and know-all television commentators never take the trouble to actually see for themselves.
But Jeremy Corbyn has taken the trouble. He’s lived in the heart of the constituency for more than 30 years. Week in, week out, year after year he’s worked tirelessly to support residents and businesses in their struggle to get a fair deal from governments who have all too often neglected their interests.
You realise the extent of Jeremy’s work when, as I do, you go out campaigning for the Labour Party on the doorstep. Time after time you hear people say: “Yes, Jeremy helped my mum” or “Jeremy helped my sister” or “He helped me when I was facing eviction.”
And the amazing thing is that now Jeremy is leader of the Labour Party and, hopefully, our next prime minister, he still devotes large amounts of time to Islington. He travels all over the country campaigning, goes into battle with Theresa May’s government in Parliament, and gives media interviews. Yet he continues to do his constituency surgeries, attend local events and play a full part in the life of Islington.
One minute he’s in the House of Commons giving Theresa May a hard time, the next he’s at a community event in Islington. I went to a Burns night supper at the end of last month. Jeremy and his wife Laura appeared around 9.30pm and, despite the fact that he’d been up at 5am to travel to Sunderland, they stayed for an hour-and-a- half.
One of the reasons Jeremy is so well liked by those of us who know him is his incredible generosity – he has time for everyone. He’s a people person – he actually enjoys talking to people. And unlike many ‘important’ people who perform for the camera, there’s only one Jeremy Corbyn. Whether he’s talking to the Queen or someone he’s bumped into in Holloway Road, it makes no difference to him. This is incredibly rare in a politician.
Jeremy has spent most of his political career fighting for what often seemed like unfashionable causes. But faced with an economy that has left so many ordinary people behind and done so much damage to the political and social fabric of the country, what Jeremy has been saying for many years to the people of Islington now makes sense to a lot of people all over Britain and beyond.
Jeremy never ever expected to occupy the position he has today. But make no mistake: despite the hail of abuse from those who rightly fear that a Corbyn Labour government will make them pay their taxes and promote an economy that works for everyone, Jeremy is enjoying every minute of the opportunity that has come his way to make something different happen in Britain.
When Jeremy was first elected MP for Islington North, he had a majority of 5,607. In the 2017 general election, that majority was more than 33,000. Increasingly, the Jeremy Corbyn that Islington has seen over the last 30 years is being seen by people all over the country.
And when he’s elected prime minister at the next election, if my experience is anything to go by, the country will be electing the most decent man in British politics today.