A Jeremy Corbyn rally in Nottingham has been announced, and really given the way he finished off the Glasgow hustings, you wonder how can something so wooden be so “popular”.
The Corbyn style is a kind of anti-politics.
Many aspects of it would have been criticised by the Left of the late seventies and early eighties, especially if it had been done by the Right.
A colleague told me how his daughter had joined the Labour party because of a fear of something special being lost.
It comes across sometimes as Jermey Corbyn being the only Socialist in the village.
Owen Smith has done plenty to contend that, but one of the surprises is how the influx of new members have not wanted to have anything to do with those of us who’ve been working for years – and I say that as a branch secretary and principal authority councillor (and assuming that Nottingham is not atypical of the country).
The other big surprise is how some of the exacting “standards” of the late seventies / early eighties of left polictics have been lost (and I say this assuming Birmingham then was not atypical of the country). These standards include –
Collective: we so used to think it wasn’t about the individuals, but the bringing together of all our talents; now there is a tad of St.Jeremy around, sometimes referred to as a a cult.
Being a fair manager: the treatment of shadow cabinet members who felt the need to resign, most specifically the statement by Lilian Greenwood.
Inclusion: there was a bit of the joy of words with political correctness, but there was also an earnest desire not to use language as a way of re-affirming mores that led women, minority ethnic groups and LGBT to feel excluded, and the treatment of some women in the shadow cabinet and the anti-Semitism rows are examples of things that would have just been abhorred back then.
Anti-racism: just surprising how the anti-Semitism concerns were not dealt with;
Abuse of patronage: the award of a CBE to a declared independent chair of an inquiry into problems in the Labour party, that appeared to clear the Labour party.
The embrace of a primary system: back then the notion of candidates for anything being decided by those who could pay a fee would have been seen as the very worst of a kind of American-style primary politics that was to be resisted.
The separation from the mainstream Labour movement: unlike the seventies, where the national shop stewards movement, and striking campaigns over ownership and alternative technologies.
Policy development outside of the party: a range of pronouncements by a Leader outside of the procedures agreed by the party.
And more recently –
Advocating a cross party coalition: the notion of progressive alliances has been around for a long time, but never the idea of election coalitions; (we wait to see how serious this idea is and whether it is something Jeremy Corbyn supports);
Celebrating anything said by David Owen: er …
Certainly the claims to a new honest politics look tarnished now (e.g. Traingate).
That this has tapped into a zeitgeist that is popular, is only true, if popular is not taken to mean majority.
It’s not that Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters –
– are not left-wing, or
– have been unique in responsibilities for transgressions in political conduct (accusations of Nazi stormtrooping were bizarre, inaccurate and trivialised Nazi stormtrooping), or
– are unique in instances of hypocrisy or contradictions within their own belief system; cos such that too big a chellenge for anyone, or
– that Jeremy Corbyn would not have son support from the Left back then
More that supporters of the Left prespective from back then would have been surprised by some of what is taken to be Left now, and would have been relentless in highlighting, and repeatedly condemning, some of the things that have happened.
TO BE UPDATED.