At the last election, the hashtag ‘Milifandom’ went viral on Twitter and other forms of social media. This was all thanks to Abby Tomlinson- a student from Lancashire who started it all. Members of the #Milifandom posted tweets and photos displaying their love for Ed Miliband, the Labour leader at that time. Ed even mentioned ‘The Milifandom’ in his resignation speech and in June, he met up with Abby and showed her around Parliament. Since then, Abby has started interviewing Labour politicians including Andy Burnham, Jeremy Corbyn and Yvette Cooper. I decided to ask Abby some questions and discover why she decided to start the Milifandom.
- How important is it that young people take an interest in politics?
“It’s so unbelievably important that young people take an interest in politics – if politicians don’t think we’re interested, they’re not going for to introduced policies for us. Nowhere is this more evident that the conservatives, who seem to be oblivious to any teenage engagement in politics and thus their policies reflect this, they seem to think that young people should punished for being young, because they think that displeasing young people won’t affect how many votes they get: we need to prove them wrong! Being interested in politics not only helps you, but it helps other young people, and it helps politicians argue in favour of young people, for example, extending the vote to 16 and 17 year olds.”
- What would you say to young people who are considering joining The Labour Party?
“I would say go for it! If they feel that it is the right party for them (and I am of the firm belief it is) they should do it. It’s great to feel like you’re part of something, especially something so worthwhile and important, and every single member I’ve met in my time as a member has been so incredibly lovely, and I have made friends for life.”
- How important is it that young people don’t become deluded by the tabloid press?
“SO important. The right wing press seem to enjoy demonising good people and glorifying bad ones… For example, I think the daily express showed a picture of George Osborne in shining armour after the budget or something, when he had just delivered a metaphorical slap in the face for many people, especially the young and poor. Don’t believe everything you read folks!”
- Why did you decide to start the Milifandom?
“Because I was so fed up with the constant demonisation of Ed in the media – I saw he was a good, funny man, and it annoyed me that other people didn’t see that because of something they read in the sun. It made me angry to see such that such a good person got such bad press. It was time for something positive, something honest.”
- Do you think that the Milifandom gives us hope for the future of Labour and left-wing politics?
“I’m not sure, I don’t like bigging (that’s not a word, is it?) myself up – I can’t really talk about the effect Milifandom has had because I’m not sure what it has, if any. But if it has given people hope, then that makes me really very happy. Politics should be about hope, hoping for a better future and voting based on that – not fear.”
- How did you feel when Ed mentioned The Milifandom in his resignation speech?
“Oh god, this is so embarrassing. I feel so embarrassed every time I’m asked this. So I was already in tears at that point (had been for the majority of the day, I was so devastated) but when he mentioned it, I completely lost it. I couldn’t believe that wonderful man, though he lost, still sounded so grateful for what I did, if anything. It made me angrier about the chance we missed, and it reminded me what an amazing, lovely person Ed really is.”
- You’re obviously a fan of Andy Burnham, would you be interested in leading his new fandom?
“Haha! I don’t know about that, and before someone decided to write a book about it, I definitely don’t claim to lead the “fandys”. I’m pretty busy with my position as Milifandom leader; perhaps if I decide to back Andy I’ll get a role in the Fandy shadow cabinet?”
- Do you have any funny stories from your involvement in politics so far?
“Hmm, I have a few, but I’m not sure how many of them are classified! I guess one would be when I was in the central lobby of the house in commons, and Jeremy Hunt came and stood right next me, I gave him the evilest glare imaginable – honestly, if looks could, erm, maim or seriously injure, Jeremy would have been in dire need of the NHS he is currently ruining (to clarify, I wish no actual harm to Mr Hunt.) he then saw me staring at him, and looked rather startled when I didn’t look away. Bless him (not, he totally deserved it.)”