Politics

How People Powered concerts helped to pass on Jeremy Corbyn's message

Sick of seeing Jeremy Corbyn attacked in the press, music journalist Lois Wilson organised a People Powered concert in support of him. Paul Weller signed up, it sold out, and the Labour leader took to the stage...

People Powered concerts

At the General Election, support for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party shocked politicians and pundits alike. So what happened? In a series of interviews, we speak to the campaigners, mobilisers, concert organisers, educators and pundits changing the political landscape and energising a new generation of the left in Britain…

Lois Wilson: For me, music has always been a huge force for social change. My first musical love was the Specials and 2 Tone, that then led into Red Wedge which 2 Tone founder Jerry Dammers was involved in alongside Billy Bragg, The Style Council and others.

So I have never questioned the link between politics and music.

I first heard of Jeremy Corbyn through his links with CND and Stop the War. I remember being on the 2003 Stop The War march and rushing to Hyde Park to see him speak. For me there was never any doubt that if he wanted it, he should be leader of the Labour Party. He was so passionate, so honest.

Corbyn connects with people because he doesn’t patronise

Witnessing the constant demonisation of him in the mainstream press after he became leader was demoralising but also baffling. It didn’t tally with what I was seeing at Momentum meetings and rallies across the country.

I was at playgroup with my three-year-old and heard yet another person disparaging him and I thought, that’s it: I’m a music journalist, I knew if I put on a concert with acts that were credible in the eyes of the mainstream press, the worst they could do was ignore us – which they did.

But I also knew that the music press would pick up on it. They’d get the event out [the People Powered concert in Brighton]. I’m lucky enough to have a great friendship with Paul Weller, we’ve had many conversations about politics over the years. I asked him and he said yes straight away. I made sure that the bill was diverse – reggae from Ghetto Priest, jazz from Soweto Kinch – and that we had The Farm, because of their political affiliation to the left. Momentum gave us the funding and helped with merchandise.

The rest of the bill I wanted to focus on younger groups and musicians who weren’t previously associated with a political cause. Hence Temples, Bill Ryder Jones, Stealing Sheep, Kathryn Williams and Edgar Jones. We were saying, if these groups are willing to stand up for what they believe then you don’t need to be afraid to do so either.

Jeremy-Corbyn-at-People-Powered-concert-web

That Jeremy Corbyn then came and gave a speech and John McDonnell was also in the audience was brilliant.

Corbyn connects with people because he doesn’t patronise. He actually wants to make a better society so he listens. Ultimately, it’s his beliefs and policies – a more equal distribution of wealth, a welfare state providing free education and health service, everyone with a roof over their heads, the end of poverty. And once people actually got to hear that message they connected.

@LoiswilsonUK

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