Jeremy Corbyn: ©Carmarthenshire Times

Jeremy Corbyn is no stranger to Wales. He has visited a number of times on his campaign trail, when he was embroiled in a battle with Owen Smith jostling for the Labour leadership.

Mr Corbyn made full use of the friends he has in Wales including one of the most influential union men of the last century, Tyrone O’Sullivan, the man who led the Welsh miners during the strikes in the 1980’s.

It was an interesting time in politics and in journalism following this bearded man around Wales where he was given without exception a hero’s welcome.

Jeremy and Tyrone: ©Carmarthenshire Times

Some in his own party were not so forthcoming with their welcome and despite the organised buffets, fund raisers, soap box rallies and perfectly staged press opportunities, negative comments about Mr Corbyn were uttered albeit quietly at those events. Mark Drakeford was the only Welsh cabinet member to vote for Jeremy Corbyn in 2015.

It must have been hard to be one of his doubters within the party as the groundswell of support gathered momentum, eventually resulting in a triumphant victory for Jezza. A prominent Labour politician openly opposed to Jezza as leader was akin to someone taking a hog roast to a vegetarian BBQ.

Jeremy’s appearance at Glastonbury may not have sat well with the doubters but it cemented his place in popular culture as a working class hero. And that in the words of John Lennon is something to be. They hate you if you’re clever they despise you if you’re a fool.

Corbyn’s influence on Welsh politics is not one of immediate and personal involvement. You have to look at the make up of the Labour party in Wales. You have to look at the structure, which is predominantly still one of a working class base. Mr Corbyn firmly aligned himself with that base, young and old. His questions to the Prime Minister at PMQT more often than not came from that base.

Debbie from Newport is living on the minimum wage and has three children, one of whom is autistic, etc. It resonated  with people who rightly or wrongly believed that here for the first time was a man of the people, speaking in the common tongue, asking the questions, which were emotionally charged in the heart of the political establishment putting ordinary people centre stage.

During an interview with Mr Corbyn I asked if his journalistic background played a big part in the way he framed his questions. He conceded that this was the case. We have moved into a digital age and Mr Corbyn is making full use of that. Who’d have thought that there would be a simple online process for asking a question to the Prime Minister through the leader of the opposition?

It is a brave male or female politician who distanced themselves from Mr Corbyn. Some inevitably hit the road while others were offered a place at the table. We have a devolved government here in Wales however the Labour Party itself has no such demarcation line. Binding the party together wherever one might live is the party membership and guiding the decision making processes are the party policies.

Jeremy Corbyn is as much involved with and in Welsh politics as the First minister at the Welsh Assembly. One could liken it to a piece of rock. From Westminster to St Davids Jeremy Corbyn will have an influence and so for that matter would any other leader of the Labour party. If there is a marginal seat to be fought in Wales, you can bet your biggest Welshcake that it will be Jeremy Corbyn making a visit. The First Minister may inevitably be in tandem especially if that First Minister happens to be a socialist and the only Welsh Assembly cabinet member to back him.  

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