When Jeremy Corbyn won the Labour Party leadership yesterday and was serenaded by Billy Bragg, how many others were transported back, like me, to the rebellious mid 1980s?
I studied for a media studies degree at the Polytechnic of Central London (PCL) from 1983 to 1986. The Conservatives were in power and Mrs Thatcher was prime minister but it was the Left that dominated PCL. The Student Union backed every left-wing issue going, from striking miners to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
I was in the first or second year at PCL when I met Jeremy Corbyn, the MP for Islington North, with my fellow student Sarah Champion. Our task was to record a radio interview with him at the Houses of Parliament.
Despite the social upheavals of the time, I have absolutely no idea what we spoke to Corbyn about or why we interviewed him in particular. I do remember him collecting two overawed and nervous students, and taking us through a labyrinth of corridors to his tiny office where we just about managed to complete the interview.
After spending an age getting the sound right on one of the poly’s cranky ‘portable’ Uher tape recorders, we then asked him an excruciatingly long and drawn-out question that even today makes me cringe to think about!
Yet despite our inexperience and evident nerves, he was unfailingly courteous and kind. He never once interrupted, even during the world’s longest radio question, and answered every question put to him thereafter with deftness, good humour and common sense.
Maybe, as Stephen Pound MP told Andrew Neil on Friday’s Daily Politics show, “some of his economics policies are eccentric and slightly nostalgic”, but my nostalgia is of a decent person who showed rare patience with two bumbling students. It’s a bit late to say it, but thank you, Jeremy.