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19 August 2015

I took to Tinder to convince people to vote for Jeremy Corbyn. Here’s what I learned

If Tinder's any guide, Jeremy Corbyn may be the best choice to win over Ukip supporters. 

By ruby Lott-Lavigna

As a socialist under the age of 26 I’m legally obliged to be supporting Jeremy Corbyn. His beard speaks to me, and I spend the days retweeting satirical Corbyn twitter accounts but then tweeting “but seriously tho” because people need to know that seriously tho Jeremy Corbyn would be a great leader for this country.

I wasn’t old enough to truly witness the energy felt in Labour after 1997, so my political memory is one characterised by failure. I’ve talked to older Labour supporters who remember a time when they cared about what the party believed in, and didn’t just feel like they were watching a political shit-storm of emotional nothingness, devoid of any vague spark of hope. I voted Green in the last election, but I’ve joined Labour because I don’t want to compromise: to elect a leader who can oppose austerity, call for an equal parliament and – ostensibly – harbour a soul. Currently, the most emotion I can remember experiencing during something political was the feeling of 9.3 million hearts breaking simultaneously at an exit poll.  

In the latest “journalists do literally anything to write a slightly different think piece on Jeremy Corbyn,” I took to Tinder to try to convince the electorate how right I am. Tinder being full of bonafide misogynists, racists and twats, it felt like the right format to explore the current political atmosphere on the left.  Let me tell you – it’s been an enlightening process; an emotional rollercoaster of glee, disappointment and sheer confusion in my search for true love. 

So it turns out that a lot of people on Tinder don’t know who Jeremy Corbyn is or don’t care. I encountered this opinion on the whole more frequently than anything else, which I suppose isn’t surprising when you consider that 33.9 per cent of the electorate didn’t even vote in the general election. Corbyn’s one of four candidates for a leadership election for a party whose leader you might not know the name of. Except that leader left. And now there’s a different leader. But they weren’t elected so it’s not proper. Even for a woman with enough privilege to fill a small Aga, it can be a bit confusing. Nothing like a spell on Tinder to remind you how closed off and elitist the whole concept of party politics can be. 

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Whilst apathy reigned supreme for some, others struggled with the immense feeling of joy towards the leadership race. There was no way to articulate, to put into worlds the true, profound satisfaction at finally encountering a left-wing candidate with the ideological drive to reinvigorate the whole of the Labour movement and promote grassroots activism.

Most interesting was a Ukip supporter I encountered. I figured I’d be met with a barrage of abuse, but shockingly I was affronted with a familiar sense of enthusiasm. Superficially it makes sense that a Ukip supporter could like Corbyn, even if it feels dirty to compare someone with empathy to a racist homophobe. Both ends of the political spectrum would agree – Corbyn stands out partly because of his break from the status-quo of neo-liberalism in the Labour party, but also because he breaks the mould of Politician™. Ukip Tinder Man liked Corbyn because he stood out – much in the same way Farage does to Ukip supporters – as an individual with a belief. 

Take of that what you will, but it posed an interesting question about the potential demographic of Corbyn’s reach, especially considering a YouGov poll found that left-wing ideas were often higher amongst Ukip voters when compared to the rest of the population. I’m not ignorant enough to assume that there is much if any ideological cross over between Corbyn and Farage (except maybe on the EU), but if Farage can be the main reason you join a party of hate, then Corbyn could certainly persuade people to join a party of semi-coherent beliefs.

On the whole, it felt like most people didn’t care about the leadership race, or know who Corbyn was. Saying that, I did stumble on a few who are voting for Corbyn, but us just agreeing on Tinder turns out, doesn’t make that interesting an article. Apparently, though, not everyone wants to chat politics on Tinder. 

At least my pics look stunning.