Corbyn at any cost?

Published

Theo Wilcocks
Writer

Theo Wilcocks talks about the Corbyn supporters who seem to be willing to fight beyond reasonable measure

“Corbyn has mastered a lot of things, but strangely not saying shit just to get elected. Mate, say some shit just to get elected: it’s really your only job right now.” That was the insight given by Frankie Boyle in his New World Order review of 2018. It may just be a joke, but there has been an increasingly popular opinion of people feeling simply puzzled and questioning what Corbyn is actually doing. In a time when it may seem more appropriate to be sceptical of Corbyn’s tactics, are some of those behind him just doing and saying whatever it takes to back him?

Firstly, it’s important to look back in time when discussing the intricacies of Jeremy Corbyn’s still hefty, yet diverse, range of supporters. Let’s go back to 2015 when he became leader of the Labour Party. What made him so loveable? I can’t deny that I was one of the many who found the figure who emerged from security in the backbenches, bearing an image of dirty allotment boots and 70s student socialism, somewhat endearing. For many people, it was refreshing to see someone with a genuine personality at the forefront of mainstream British politics; a man with grounded views and flashing a rare quality of those in Westminster: good manners. He broadcast an appealing version of socialism to the masses.

There followed an intense period of Corbyn taking advantage of his newfound celebrity status. He managed to overfill the biggest of event spaces, helped by the fact that the Labour Party seemed to have finally realised how to use social media. But what came in public opposition to this? Successfully drummed up by the tabloids crudely proclaiming his lack of legitimacy as Prime Minister, came a flurry of Twitter trolls coining terms like “Corbynista” (something probably reminiscent of Trump’s “liberal snowflake”). I mean, The Sun literally ran a headline with the phrase “Don’t chuck Britain in the Cor-Bin”. The fight has only continued, with the online presence of supposed political gurus ever-increasing, many bearing blank profile images, all goading each other with the newest of labels for their affiliation.

There have been online arguments and debates for years now, but what has changed is the nature of the groups who fight their side. It’s obvious that many of those entrenched in the philosophy of their corner feel more confident than ever in calling out others online, so how come there’s been a change in tone of those vehemently defending Corbyn? It seems to be part of a larger concern that the man once seen as the ultimate defence of the working people is coming to be seen as motivated by arbitrary blackening of the Tory party. His delayed call for a vote of no confidence was made within an attack on the Conservatives’ track record, and he made little call for support from the members of the governing party that he would actually require to back him if the vote were to succeed. But mentioning this really isn’t popular right now. Fearful of the future of Britain beyond Brexit (and rightly so), some of his comrades refuse to allow any tarnishing of his credibility, with those on the fringes sinking into a furious routine of online shitposting, scorning anyone who remarks unfavourably on their saviour.

What I believe has happened is that the cult of personality surrounding Corbyn has finally caught up with him. Although I am a devout believer in his leadership style and his faith that a progressive, left-wing future for the country is possible, it must be said that without a clear change in strategy, the resort to primitive behaviour of some of his backers will only continue… and they are running out of real substance to actually run on. Of course, the internet will always be a place of debates of all types, but what is needed to produce a tenable base of support, whether it be on the streets or virtual, is a message from the Labour leader which clearly reflects the will of the party members and an approach beyond denunciation of the Tory party – because people are really over it.