On May, 2015 Tina McKay wasn’t particularly interested politics. But at 3am the next day, she watched the Conservatives win a majority in the general election. By 10am she was a Labour Party member.

The Gazette’s Head of content, Dom Bowers, and Essex University journalism student Rhiannon Bevan, spoke to the parliamentary hopeful about how she went from an armchair politician to a Corbyn activist.

 

Despite her Northern Irish accent, Tina’s life started in London, where she spent a few years in a children’s home. She then moved to Northern Ireland where she grew up.

Returning to England in 2000, Tina met her military husband in 2012, and eventually moved to Colchester in 2016.

Tina said: “When I moved over to England I still wasn’t really inspired to join any party.

“It really did feel like politicians didn’t speak for me. I very much thought my vote wasn’t going to make a difference”

That all changed as the results came in for the 2015 election, which saw David Cameron win the Conservatives a majority for the first time in 17 years.

Tina said: “My mum has bipolar, so I’ve really been able to see the decline in services.

“Watching the Conservatives get a majority made me panic, I just instantly thought about my mum.”

Another major factor which got Tina involved in the Labour Party was the rise of Jeremy Corbyn.

 She was hooked after hearing him speak at a rally.

She said: “I thought: ‘This is just common sense: why should we be seeing people going to food banks and working people like teachers and nurses in poverty?’.

“We are the fifth richest nation in the world, and we have so many working people in poverty.”

Yet Corbyn isn’t as popular as he was back then, and Tina blames the national media  for “throwing sticks” at the Labour leader.

She said: “There’s no denying that since Jeremy became leader it’s been a complete hatchet job

“Nothing they’ve accused or levelled at Jeremy is anything that sticks.” But of course, there are two things that have dogged Jeremy and the Labour Party: its stance on Brexit and its handling of anti-Semitism.

On anti-Semitism the aspiring MP said: “We’ve seen recently the accusations that have been levelled and unfortunately there are going to be people with really abhorrent views.

“These people should be removed from the party when we can find evidence.”

However, in contrast to recent accusations, such as those in a BBC Panorama investigation, Tina said: “In the last few years we’ve seen complaints procedures be sped up.”

On Brexit, she agrees with the party line. The local Labour group recently passed a motion in support of a second referendum, so how would Tina campaign?

She said: “A lot of people have tried to say that we haven’t been very clear, but what we have always said is that when you’re a democratic party, you respect the outcome of a vote.

“However, what is looking increasingly likely is that Boris Johnson doesn’t care about any sort of impact and is quite happy to take us to a no deal.

“The Labour party will do everything that we can to avoid no deal.

“We need a general election. If we get a deal we put that to the people and say ‘okay this is the deal, or we can remain’.”

Despite the divisions these subjects bring, Tina isn’t put off by a general election – even with the rise of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.

She said: “There’s no denying that Nigel Farage is a very astute politician

“But he has capitalised on the fears of communities.

“Migrants who come to the UK pay more into the system than they take out.

“It’s the people at the top who make the decisions, and they are happy for someone else to take the blame.

“Locally we have some fantastic councillors who are out all the time.

“It goes back to our vision for a better society, what we have to offer, and I think people get inspired by that.”