Sound Off

[[Sound Off]] #Grime4Corbyn

by Jamie Forrester

How Grime launched a political youth revolution

Politicians have long been disregarded as liars, cheats and waste men on the streets amongst a large portion of the disengaged youth. However, one unassuming man and his politics would be about to change the political and musical landscape side by side with some of the biggest Grime stars.

UK general election 2017 poll of polls. Source: FT

When Theresa May called a snap general election many feared the worst for a Labour led Jeremy Corbyn and the future that would be bestowed upon his party. Throughout most of 2017 the Conservatives had a gap of anywhere between nine and twenty points in the polls, and many thought should Mrs May call a snap general election the embarrassing defeat that the Labour party would suffer would be enough to split the opposition. 

Mrs May and the Conservative led government alongside the “polling experts” would make one catastrophic mistake however and that was to count out the Youth Movement that was starting. With a political imbalance and a disregard for the many over the few we seen over a quarter of a million under-25 register to vote on the last day possible. Whilst many thought that this would not see a huge change in regards to the overall vote the political juggernauts were once again disregarding and further inspiring a movement in those that politics had long forgotten. 

The question you might be asking yourself is where does the Grime industry feature in all this? Well, through artists such as JME, Stormzy, Novelist and Lowkey, Labour – a party for the many – had a platform to be able to spread their message through a new medium. All over Twitter we saw #Grime4Corbyn trending and a political movement that no-one could have imagined became an overnight reality. 

How could Grime the epitome of anti-establishment suddenly become the beacon of hope to a political party who were all but down and out in the 11th round? Well the answer is that despite it appearing anti-establishment it isn’t, grime is a culture and it talks about the issues facing the men and women living on the streets and in the estates. Grime has always been about the many and giving a voice to those who have for so long been voiceless. But why Jeremy Corbyn? Why not previous leaders such as Ed Miliband? Well the answer is simple: In Jeremy Corbyn the country had the potential to have a true left of centre government and way of thinking, Corbyn was exiled to being nothing more than a backbencher many disregarded and forgot about until his sudden and climactic rise in 2015 (sound familiar?), yet he has never wavered from his political beliefs since his election to parliament in 1983. Whether it be him challenging Margaret Thatcher on the privatisation of public services or fighting his own party for their part of the War in Iraq, he stuck by his morals and beliefs much like grime music has never wavered from its beliefs and messages.

The Grime Industry as a whole got behind the Corbyn led opposition and wanted to play their part in change and to help inspire men and women like themselves to get involved. Now you know why they wanted to play their part but much like the political forecasters of 2017 you want to know how they were going to achieve the message they are preaching right?

Grime4Corbyn gigs started popping up in places such as Tottenham, Brighton and Dalston. In marginal seats such as Croydon posters started to appear with Stormzy plastered on them saying “The Tories hold Croydon by 165 votes (that’s literally it) even your dad’s got more facebook friends. Stromzy says VOTE LABOUR”. AJ Tracey would feature in a Labour Party campaign video explaining exactly why he would be voting for them and why you should be too.

For far too many years Labour had been pushing for the young voter in all the wrong ways, instead of inspiring them through alternative means they are engaged with they were too busy wasting money on statues of a flawed centralist manifesto further distancing themselves from those they would come to rely on so heavily. Meetings between artists such as JME and Jeremy Corbyn took place and JME would go on to tweet “I met @jeremycorbyn today, and explained why bare of us don’t vote.” These people were so distant but by talking through the right channels means more of us would vote. 

Through the voices of these artists who a large portion of young uninspired voters looked to for guidance and who’s music gave purpose even when hope was gone. Labour had tapped into a well that had long been cemented up. On June 9th the decision Theresa May and her Government had made to call a snap general election would turn out to be one of the biggest mistakes in UK political history. What once was a majority led Conservative Government would be no more and despite forecasts right after polling stations shut believing this would do nothing but grow the majority they already had the youth movement had struck and ensured that the beginning of something very special was taking place.

Drawing of Jeremy Corbyn holding a speaker

#Grime4Corbyn was more than just a fad but instead it was the beginning of a political movement that to this day is still going on. The campaign spurned new hope for those who had long given up, it helped to spread a message of tolerance, love and togetherness and how it can help achieve anything and most importantly it showed the power that those who were disregarded have and that it does not have to be bestowed upon you by anyone it is simply your god given right. The movement showed that those who had been exiled to the underground with their music not only could become mainstream chart toppers but they could also help to foil the plans to keep them underground and suffering politically. Despite Jeremy Corbyn not winning the election in 2017 it inspired new hope amongst the youth and has helped to create a movement and relationship between Grime music and a better society that helps the many not the few