Some thoughts on the past two years.

Marie Le Conte
Jun 10, 2017 · 3 min read

The first political exclusive I published was in June 2015; I’d been an occasional freelancer for the Evening Standard diary for a few months but had finally just managed to make it a more regular gig.

Covering the Labour leadership contest was the first thing I ever did as a journalist mostly writing about politics, and the first of many times in the months that were about to follow than I and others got things drastically wrong.

This isn’t a mea culpa, or at least, not quite — I am disappointed in myself for the efforts I didn’t make not to end up swallowed up whole by the hegemony of political prediction, but I’m unsure what I could have done differently.


In hindsight, what has annoyed me the most over these past few months has been the lack of curiosity in political journalism. I have read many reports on the changing minds of the unlikely UKIP, Le Pen and Trump voters, and am grateful to those who wrote them, as my understanding of the ever-expanding political landscape was enriched as a result.

What I wish I could have read more of is reporting on unlikely Corbyn voters; what makes them tick, what made them change, why they think that his political positions, which had mostly all but disappeared from the mainstream discourse, were the best the country has to offer.

After all, he has defeated expectations time and time again, and from the very moment he very nearly failed to make it onto the ballot of the Labour leadership contest, which made an acquaintance remark at the time that “no one has ever put that much effort into coming fourth in a race”.

A lot of these writers who seemingly had the urge to get under the skin of people unexpectedly going right suddenly went silent when it came to people unexpectedly going left, presumably at least partly because Corbyn was simply written off as a future failure after each of his victories.

Some features did get written about the Corbynistas, but much of the response from mainstream media and political figures alike went from condescending shrugs to full-blown smirks.

And this is where I come in, I suppose. I made my first foray into the Westminster bubble when Corbyn first attempted to prick it, and had, from the very beginning, to go against my instincts.

As I’m sure some of you know, my political roots lie in student activism, and I knew in that summer of 2015 that in order to become the political reporter I wanted to be, and do my job as accurately as possible, I needed to get rid of my biases, and unfair assumptions on some corners of the political spectrum.

What my personal opinions were then and what they are now doesn’t matter; what does is that I firmly believe that my work, which I take very seriously, hasn’t been influenced by whatever it is that I happen to think or say in private.

In hindsight, I do however think that I may have been overzealous in compensating for what I saw as my political weaknesses, which pushed me to joined the sneering chorus chanting that Corbyn was about as likely to be successful as I am to become an astronaut then marry Rihanna.

It is, after all, hard to go against the grain when you’re the new kid at school and all the loudest voices are shouting the same thing, though this doesn’t excuse my own lack of political imagination.

I regret patronisingly mocking my friends saying that if only Jezza was given a chance he could do wonders, and I regret not spending more time talking to the very people Corbyn appealed to, to understand a phenomenon I found slightly baffling.

I encourage my Corbyn-supporting friends to gloat behind my back and to my face for however long they want; I’ve earnt it, and smugness is an underrated feeling.

What I will add, though, is that this was not quite a victory for the left. Thursday’s results seemed unbelievable partly because the bar had been set so low by sceptic MPs and commentators.

Labour did not win the election, and any opposition party should have hoped to do at least this well in defeat while running against a campaign as clunky and dreary as May’s.

That being said, Corbyn has now very much earned the right to stay on as leader, and I can’t wait to report on where it all goes next.

    Marie Le Conte

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    The Sunday Sport once called me a 'less-than-original sex person'.