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Nags Head - The Day I Met Jeremy

Bumbling along the Seven Sisters Road in Holloway, I notice a group of people seemingly excited, gathering around one individual. Scenes like these are a blue light to which I find myself inadvertently drifting, flying towards, frantically fiddling my exposure settings in the glaring sun. Jeremy Corbyn was crowded by staffers, general public, market traders, and a lone street photographer.

Thursday morning, the morning of the London mayoral elections, Boris Johnson is gone, a new slate for London is on the cards. The Labour candidate Sidiq Khan was bidding to be the first Muslim elected as the Mayor of London. Utterances from Corbyn’s staffers suggested Khan would be campaigning throughout London. Corbyn’s visit to the Nag’s Head Market was one of many on a full day of campaigning for the local and mayoral elections.

 

In office since 1983, the love for the Islington North MP at times seemed unconditional. People stood next to him beaming for a photo, people queuing to shake his hand, offering gifts, chanting and rousing emotion, and me, me keen to capture a moment to post about the leader of the opposition. The buzz grew to infectious levels, spreading throughout the market, and lasted beyond Corbyn’s tour of the market. I sense his visits bring a feel good factor.

Are these people politicised? Were they one of the 251,417 that gave Corbyn his mandate as Labour leader? Speaking to a number of traders, the sense I had was that these people were disenfranchised by the government - suspicious of the current government’s privileged past - as unrepresentative to their lives. A market largely housing local, working class businesses, Corbin represented them, “fighting for them for years”, they felt understood.

Ali, known locally as Gurel, in full support of the Labour leader, gifted Jeremy Corbyn a number of vests, stating “these are the best vests in London!”

The fabric merchant and patron to a local Mosque had not realised Corbyn was an MP. 

The curiosity of people and entrepreneurs. As Corbyn made his way out of the market, their attention soon shifted to me. I think some of them thought I am a professional photographer or journalist. I started to be tapped on the shoulder by traders keen to have their photo taken beside their stalls.

 Enthusiastic tuck shop owner Cliff played ring master to the rousing support for Corbyn, chanting “vote Labour..!”

Enthusiastic tuck shop owner Cliff played ring master to the rousing support for Corbyn, chanting “vote Labour..!”

 The fabric merchant, and patron to a local Mosque, for many years had not realised Corbyn was an MP.

The fabric merchant, and patron to a local Mosque, for many years had not realised Corbyn was an MP.

They asked if I have a website, if I am a photographer, a journalist even, and I answered with honesty, yes, I guess I am those things. I emphasised I was an amateur just starting out, yet it didn't seem to matter that I may be a lone wolf without much bite. Publicity is publicity. One by one I was asked to photograph the traders, running their businesses in the Nag’s Head for years, dedicated to their own industry. I promised I would post their photos on my website and that I would return. I will return and listen to the deeper stories these folk have to share.

Sidiq Kahn was elected Mayor of London, with the largest personal mandate in British history.


Mehmet Hassan