General election 2024 was a milestone

  • Post last modified:July 7, 2024
  • Reading time:5 mins read

During the last general election, I was homeless. 

On Thursday night, the Canary sent me to cover the general election results live from Durham North. Never in a million years did I expect that. Ever. Let alone four and a half years ago. 

Back in 2019, even though I was homeless I was heavily involved in the election campaign. Spurred on by the connection I felt to our local candidate, Hugo Fearnley and of course – Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.

Hugo and the campaign team took me under their wing – they fed me, they let me stay in their houses and for a month or so they gave me a purpose. I helped run the campaign office, organise teams of canvassers, and I felt like I was finally doing something useful with my time. Ultimately though, they believed in me for the first time in my life. They gave me hope that something else was possible. 

The local campaign embodied the hope that we saw throughout Corbyn’s campaign – and let’s face it, his career. His campaign spread the belief that a better future was possible for every single struggling person in our country. His campaign spoke directly to me and for me.

Real world experience this general election

So on Thursday 4 July 2024, I felt like I was walking on a cloud – or even running. With enough adrenaline in me to resuscitate a blue whale and more caffeine than a 5ft 1 human should ever consume – I spent the night interviewing the general election candidates and reporting back to Canary HQ on what was going on on the ground. 

And whilst I did attend the election count in Scarborough back in 2019, it was a whole different experience being there as a member of the press. Having a press badge in my back pocket made me feel like I had earned my place there rather than being brought along as a candidate’s plus one, or two, or three. 

It was intimidating as hell walking into the press room – full of ‘well-dressed’ and intellectual-sounding journalists sharing anecdotes about their times at Edinburgh and Oxbridge. Without even a GCSE in English to my name, that could not have been further from my reality. 

I do not have that Oxbridge degree or a relative at the Times. But I have real world experience that so many of Britain’s journalists and politicians could never even imagine. And you can bet that I will continue to use it for as much good as possible. 

Speaking truth to power

Journalism has always felt like a very exclusive profession. You need friends in high places or a degree from a decent uni. Well I have neither, and honestly – on Thursday l was glad of it. I watched other news outlets interviewing candidates and saw the dull looking expressions on both of their faces. Did they even want to be there? Were the results going to affect their lives in any fucking way? 

With my two iPhone’s (one borrowed, because who can afford two?), and with my cheap tripod and microphones I managed to interview six of the seven candidates in Durham North.

Once they announced the results, I took my chance to grab Luke Akehurst. It was already nearly 4am but I wasn’t leaving without trying. He probably thought he’d managed to avoid me – but his first question was ‘are you from [the] Canary?’ and then ‘I’m sure you’ll have the best questions of the night’ – did I detect a hint of sarcasm there Lukey?

I was suddenly grateful for the heavy police presence. 

Without Corbyn’s campaign back in 2019, I’m not sure where I would be today. The people I met during that month led me directly out of homelessness and into a far better future. They didn’t have to help me – but they chose to. So on Thursday, as I stood interviewing parliamentary candidates and new MPs – I could not help but think back to that election night in 2019.

For someone like me, who has been and is still directly affected by so many of the issues our politicians spend so much time arguing over – being at the count as a member of the press and being able to hold these men to account was a huge fucking deal.

It tells me that people like me do belong in places like that. And it goes against everything I was taught growing up – that my voice does matter and that I can speak truth to power.

Featured image via the Canary

Source link