Britain is more divided than ever. Now Labour has a chance to unify it

John Harris writes: The centre of Birmingham at midnight offered plenty of proof of what had just happened. On Broad Street, the neon-lit strip that sits at the heart of the city’s nightlife, an endless parade of young people were shouting their joy. “Corbyn! Corbyn!” yelped three twentysomething men; a woman told me she planned to drink a shot of tequila every time Labour gained a seat. They talked in emotional terms about student debt, the health service, and their belief in a diverse Britain. But perhaps the most moving part was played by a man in a wheelchair, who told us he was penniless and bemoaned the cruelties of the benefits system before he mentioned Jeremy Corbyn, and uttered seven words that made me well up: “Something has to change in this world.”

With my Guardian colleague John Domokos, I had spent the previous eight hours shooting a film for the Guardian’s Anywhere But Westminster series in nearby Walsall, where Labour held one seat and lost another, it frequently felt very different. There, in neighbourhoods such as Bloxwich and Bentley, an array of older voters echoed all the Tory attack lines on Corbyn, and talked about switching from Labour to Conservative, often via Ukip. Their sentiments sounded like the spirit of Brexit, full of a mixture of fear and obstinacy, and hardened anew by the attacks on London and Manchester: “I don’t think it’s fair that we should be worried in our own country,” said one woman.

But younger people appeared too, and told us they were voting Labour for very different reasons. No sooner had we met a man carrying a copy of the Sun and spitting bile about Corbyn and the IRA than a young nurse and her friend came round the corner, both first-time voters, deeply concerned about the fate of public services, impressed by the Labour leader and passionate about getting rid of the Tories. “Labour are more for young people,” said one. And we got a sense of politics at its most simple and urgent. [Continue reading…]


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