Image Credit: Chris McAndrews
Our rapport has become a bit more conversational, but I want us to get down to the current state of the Labour party and the undeniable backlash that seems to have been growing, culminating with the recent departure of Luciana Berger and her fellow MPs. I describe to Rachael the wave of Corbo-mania that had gripped the university campus during the last general election and how the this sort of enthusiasm has largely gone off the boil in regard to Labour; the party being viewed by some as drifting in a niche direction. A long pause follows when I put this conundrum to her and she does seem to acknowledge this as being a genuine concern for the party, she mentions
how, specifically, the murder of Jo Cox had silenced many of the voices among Labour MPs who had been campaigning for more diversity in the society but also in the party’s membership. She reiterates the importance of ‘taking a stand’ regardless of circumstances however, and stresses the ‘need for voices on the ground’; a sentiment that, for me, brings to mind Sanders’ ‘grass-roots campaign’ strategy across the pond.
Our conversation meanders around for a while as we discuss Corbyn’s stance on the EU (she stands by him as a proud ‘remain-reformer’), as well as the changing obligations of an MP in the present day; she’s adamant in her belief that MPs should not be bullied into line by their respective parties and takes a pot-shot at the York Outer MP, Julian Sturdy (Conservative), for being someone whose sure to keep his agenda in line with the chief whip.
As our hour wraps up I feel pleased with our discussion even if some of her answers have caught me somewhat off-guard. The most potentially revealing insight into her character strangely comes when I ask her, by way of a joke,: ‘What’s the naughtiest thing you’ve ever done?’. After quite a considerable bit of dithering she states: ‘I’m much more subtle with my rebellion. That doesn’t mean I’m not rebellious in nature, I just try and do it in a very sophisticated way’.
It’s either an off -the-cuff remark, a statement of intent, or a portentous description of her political career to come. Or perhaps I’m just reading a bit much into all of this.