The 15-Year-Old Labour Activist Right-Wing Twitter Don't Believe Is Real
Hasan Patel with his welcome sign for Donald Trump. Photo: @CorbynistaTeen
Hasan Patel is a 15-year-old Labour activist and schoolboy from east London who tweets under the handle @CorbynistaTeen. Recently, one Twitter user claimed Patel's account must be fake, since "the posts are way too informed, literate and on-message for a lad of 15 years old". But it's not: he's just a highly informed, literate, on-message lad.
Jeremy Corbyn's election as Labour leader coincided with the advent of Hasan's teenage years, and soon enough – empowered by Corbyn's appeal to young people – he was attending constituency party meetings and tweeting his support, amassing followers like BBC presenter Victoria Derbyshire and shadow chancellor John McDonnell – as well as thousands of others – in the process.
Hasan originally became active on social media to encourage other young Labour members to get involved in the party, in a bid to redress the underrepresentation of both young and ethnic minority members at party meetings. Now, he's poised to become the youngest ever speaker at a political party conference after he was chosen to represent Leyton and Wanstead Labour Party at the annual conference following a members' ballot.
Perhaps surprisingly, Hasan doesn't want to go into politics – he wants to be an investigative journalist – but he hasn't ruled out representing his local area one day in some capacity. I spoke to him about his plan to "take the voice of the streets of east London to the heart of the political debate in this country". This account has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
I live in Leyton in east London, and I'm starting year 11 at a small secondary school that I've been going to my whole life. I'm doing French, History, Geography, Performing Arts and triple Science. Everyone at school knows me as the political one, and many of my peers follow me on Twitter too – we're always discussing politics and they're all switched on, even though our demographic is mostly ignored by politicians.
I joined the Labour Party last year, during the general election campaign, having been interested in politics for a few years. I began watching Jeremy Corbyn's speeches online when he became leader, and I found myself agreeing with a lot of what he had to say; he really inspired me, and I saw that thousands of people were turning out to hear him speak.
My parents didn't see it at first, but I kept showing them videos, and after a while they began to realise this is something special. Even after living here for a long time, they hadn't seen something on such a big scale – with such a mass membership – before.
Initially I joined Twitter to reach out to other young people and try to get them involved in the Labour party, because the youth, as well as people of colour, are underrepresented. My area is one of the most diverse areas in the country, but if you go to a constituency party meeting it's mainly just old, white, middle-class people. I was kinda spooked at first; I was like, 'Woah, woah, woah.' I'd never seen this many white people in one place in Leyton.
When I started tweeting in December, though, I didn't realise it would blow up as much as it has.
My parents think it's really good that I'm involved in activism, although they were quite wary at first because of how intimidating it can be for young people. The Labour party didn't have strong policies against the Tories prior to 2015, but Corbyn brought the case back and said, "I want to help young people, along with all those who have been left behind for the past five years, 30, and even 40 years, since Thatcher."
The policies that most appeal to me are abolishing tuition fees so that everyone has the chance to go to university without any financial disincentives; the introduction of a £10 an hour living wage, because the minimum wage discriminates against young people; and Labour's pledge to build more homes, because youngsters around here are all worried that, once we're old enough to live on our own, we're just gonna get priced out of this area.
I can thank my English teachers [for my performance on Twitter] – they're really good. I do a lot of reading, too, and maybe that helps. A lot of people do question me online: "Is this actually you, a teenager? Surely it's an account run by the Labour Party or Momentum to appeal to more young people," but it's just not true.
The fact my age is being questioned shows that certain people are rattled by this new wave of activists, and a generation taking part instead of sitting back. Young people are really enthused, and I predict we will turnout to vote for Labour in higher numbers than in 2017.
I get quite a bit of hate – especially a few months ago, I was getting piled on; they must have been coordinating. I was getting a lot of racist and Islamophobic abuse, saying I should leave the country, calling me the N-word and stuff like that. It was quite horrific, but I think in politics you have to develop a thick skin, so it doesn't really affect me at all anymore. I just look at it, call them out for it and then just block them.