It is widely known that Jeremy Corbyn, a prolific signer of Early Day Motions in Parliament, has many important issues close to his heart. Early Day Motions, or EDMs, are motions submitted by MPs for debate in the House of Commons. They are put forward in order to generate interest and support for a particular cause or event, even though the majority of them will never be formally debated. The EDMs gathered here today are more than likely to have fallen into the latter category.
Motions on human rights in South America and Tibet, free higher education and workers’ rights come up again and again in the EDM archives. However, a quick scan reveals that the Labour leader’s interests are far broader than just these causes.
Here’s our run-down of the all-time top Early Day Motions that Corbyn has put his name to, some of which probably aren’t going to make it into the 2020 Labour manifesto.
1. Occupation of County Hall, 11 June 1993
This first one proves that Corbyn’s revolutionary credentials date from (at least) 1993. To those unaware of the story of the former Headquarters of London’s County Council, this may not seem like a very important revolution. However, the sell-off of London’s County Hall was a touchy topic among Londoners of the time – a “repugnant proposal”, if you like.
The controversial and, as it would turn out, financially fraught, decision to sell off London’s historic County Hall to the Japanese millionaire Takashi Shirayama was not well recieved by some in the capital, who were backed by this small group of MPs. Shirayama did go on to purchase a 999-year lease on the Hall for £60m in 1992, although he later missed a key payment deadline.
2. Norwegian Christmas Tree, 23 July 1993
Demonstrating his commendably strong stance on animal welfare, Corbyn attempts to cancel Christmas.
3. Seal Genitalia, 4 November 1993
Along with 78 other MPs (higher than his co-signatory average), Corbyn signed this motion with a rather eye-catching name in November 1993. Rightly so. Corbyn has been a vegetarian for over 50 years. He made the change after working on a pig farm while he was 20: “I got attached to the pigs.”
4. Full Pints, 29 January 2001
This motion, filed in January 2001, enjoyed significant cross-party support. Corbyn may not know who Ant and Dec are, but he knows how much a full pint should cost, which is a lot more important anyway. Here Corbyn manages to praise the great British night-out while attempting to protect consumer exploitation. We’ll drink to that.
5. Divine Chocolate, 13 March 2001
This chocolate, “supporting a fair deal for farmers”, is a fantastic cause that was rightly marked with an Early Day Motion. I hope all 84 MPs who signed this one had the opportunity to well and truly “indulge their tastebuds”, as the description, which wouldn’t look out of place in Good Food Magazine, encourages.
6. Arsenal Football Club,26 April 2004
Corbyn has signed numerous motions concerning football over the years, most of which attempted to get Arsenal’s successes recognised in parliament. This one has to top them all. The Labour leader is well known as an Arsenal supporter, but signing a motion to have them proposed as the definitive “best club football team in the world” is perhaps a little too far, no matter the “fluency and poetry” they purportedly bring to the “beautiful game”.
7. Disney Children’s Pyjamas and Reach Legislation, 21 June 2004
This means 43 MPs will be walking, in disdain, straight past the Disney Store. As if Corbyn has ever been in there anyway.
8. Pigeon Bombs, 21 May 2004
Perhaps the most ridiculous, this EDM followed the 2004 revelation that during the Second World War, MI5 proposed using pigeons to carry explosives and fly into enemy targets. Tony Banks believed that “humans represent the most obscene, perverted, cruel, uncivilized and lethal species ever to inhabit the planet.” In turn, we wonder whether Corbyn still looks forward to the day that our race will be wiped out. Will it come sooner if the Tories remain in power, or if Corbyn takes the lead?
9. Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce, 22 February 2005
Who knew Lea and Perrins was so political? Despite the 2005 scare surrounding the Sudan 1 food dye, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer, 30 MPs want Britain to know that we should continue consuming Lea and Perrins – it’s safe. Phew.
10. Bigger “Big Mac” Burger, 24 April 2006
This one is pretty straightforward. 32 MPs, including Corbyn, believe Big Macs are big enough already. But if Corbyn doesn’t doesn’t eat meat anyway, who’s he to talk on the matter?
11. Disestablishment of the Church of England, 9 January 2008
This EDM does what it says on the tin. Except not quite, because only 20 MPs signed it. Quite a lot to ask for. Dream big, Jeremy, dream big.