The strange case of the reluctant leader and the reluctant campaigner

The strange case of the reluctant leader and the reluctant campaigner

By Chelley Ryan

Contact Chelley here on Twitter: @chelleryn99

Anyone who knows me in the real world knows I’m not the pushy type.
I’m inherently shy around people I don’t know and don’t yet trust. My grown up children affectionately call me ‘the hermit’. I’m happy within the bubble of my family, and close, life long friends. It’s not that I don’t like people. I do. I have an optimistic view of life, and believe most people are good, honest and caring. I just enjoy my own company, and that of my husband, and nearest and dearest, and don’t feel a great need to extend my social circle beyond that – in part because I find socialising with anyone I’m not completely at ease with exhausting. I’m one of those people who feel responsible for keeping conversation flowing, yet never feel I have anything of interest to say.

But recently I’ve been forced to come out of my shell. A girl who didn’t like to speak up in the class room for fear of saying something silly, has suddenly become the woman who has recently written three articles, two of which have been published in The Morning Star and one posted on the blog Think Left. I’ve joined several FB groups, and my friends list has tripled. I’ve become a tweeting maniac, helping to organising Twitter storms and petitions. I even volunteered at a phone bank – me, the woman who hates speaking on the phone so much, I frequently pathetically plead with my husband to make any official phone calls.

So what is it that’s forced me out of my comfort zone? I’m sure a lot of you will have already guessed, especially if you’re backing Jeremy Corbyn in the labour leadership campaign.
The thought of Jeremy as leader, turning Labour back into a party that arouses passion, and stands for something again, is what has driven me out of my shell.
My husband, my children’s step dad, is a police officer. I run a little holistic therapy business. We struggle at times, but overall we manage ok. But my children are not managing ok. My son, a support worker, doing one of the most important jobs in the world, caring for vulnerable people, can’t afford to leave home at the age of 25. My daughter, a single mum, lives in terror in case this callous government plus the plug on her financial support before she can find a job, and even after she does. And my youngest is now wondering whether to pursue her dream to go to university. Her brother earned his degree before fees trebled, so for him it wasn’t as scary, but she’s wondering if it’s worth it.

I’ve become the reluctant campaigner for them, and for all the other young people out there whose dreams of a secure home and secure, well paid work, seem a million miles away in this increasingly unequal world we live in. And I’m doing it for those who suffer mental health issues, and who have such an uphill battle to get the support they so badly need. And I’m doing it for everyone who is struggling due to the cuts. And I’m doing it for peace, and for a more environmentally sustainable country, and for equality for all, and I could go on and on and on. My personal comfort comes second when so much is at stake.

When I hear Jeremy Corbyn referred to as a reluctant leader, especially when it’s said as an insult, I allow myself a wry smile. The factors that have driven Jeremy to stand for leader, and then commit to being our leader – if that’s the will of the members – are probably not a million miles from what’s driven me to campaign so hard for him.

He’s not driven by personal ambition, or glory. He’s driven by love. His love and care for others. For all of us.

Now that’s the sort of leader I want. What about you?

See also from Chelley: Corbyn’s Calling us Home

7 thoughts on “The strange case of the reluctant leader and the reluctant campaigner

  1. Jeremy Corbyn is the only contender that is a real politician. He has been a socialist for all his time in parliament and has stood against the mood swings of the champagne socialists headed by Blair and his ilk. Anyone who has done this throughout the whole of their parliamentary life is in my book more than able to lead the country and consequently is a man to do it.

    In fact this is the reason that the Tories and the other Labour contenders fear him so much.

    He is a genuine person with a conscience and will do the right thing for the people of the UK.


  2. I have shared this to my timeline with this comment:
    Please read this. You are free to disagree. But it so explains why so many of us – and of that ‘so many’ there are also so many who have followed Jeremy Corbyn for years! – really feel that Jeremy Corbyn would not only be the best leader the Labour Party could have but would also be the best leader the country could have. He advocates peace, a better NHS, a better social welfare system, education system and so much more. The sort of world that the returning military and the home front survivors voted for in Attlee’s government in 1945. That government gave us the Welfare State and a brilliant education system and much much more. Seventy years later and we need to [peacefully] fight to fully reinstate those assets to this country.


    • Agree so much Corbyn would be the best PM for the UK as he really cares for people and is not one of the career politicos that we have come to see over recent decades. He is what politics should be about. I would be delighted to see him not giving places n his shadoew cabinet to the cloned other contestants i the leadership race and return to a real political environment at last.


  3. Reluctant campaigner? If I remember back to the days when I read the bible – I’m a born again practicing athiest now – I recall that Moses didn’t really want the job of leading the “children of Israel” to the Promised Land.”. He had a stammer and said to God that he wasn’t up to the job. Nevertheless he did the business with the Pharoes and made the move. As a trade unionist I knew in Belfast many years ago was fond of saying, ” some people are born to be great, others have greatness thrust upon us.” Hughie was a leader.


  4. Pingback: The strange case of the Reluctant Leader and the Reluctant Campaigner | Turning the Tide

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