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Amidst the noise at the Corbyn rally was the sound of a political movement throwing itself into the abyss

28 June 2016

11:56 AM

28 June 2016

11:56 AM

Whenever I write – or think – about Jeremy Corbyn supporters, I sound like Quentin Letts. For this I apologise. It probably did not help that the first thing I found at the pro Corbyn rally in Parliament Square yesterday was an anti-Semitism special in a far left newspaper. (It is their bar of shame). It suggested that calling dead Zionists not only complicit in the Holocaust but welcoming of it, for the future possibilities of persecuting Palestinians it involved, is an acceptable thing to say.

The PA system does not work. To hear the speakers, you must be within 50 metres of the fire engine on which they stand. So the two or three thousand people in the square – there were not 10,000, as John McDonnell tweeted, that is a lie – listen to a faint and soothing crackle of rhetoric as they blow Momentum whistles and wave their placards. Functioning PA systems, I think, are Blairite. So are printed signs (although the Socialist Workers Party have them). Here, you write I Love Jez on a used jiffy bag in biro and wave it about. Or you paint a hat and stick it on your head, for democracy. The meeting coincides with the meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party; so many members of the Shadow Cabinet resigned yesterday, newspapers were offering Shadow Cabinet bingo. There is no understanding for them here; you are with us or against us; you are a comrade or a traitor. They do not want to build a coalition of progressives; they consider that beneath them. I was told last week on Twitter that Corbyn’s Labour party does not want, or need, floating voters; anyone who once a Tory is scum. I asked: how do you expect to win an election without floating voters? The working classes will rise, she said; and the ever mysterious youth. I ask the same question today. The first two people say: it doesn’t matter if Labour win an election, it is more important that Corbyn survives than the movement. The third said there is no difference between a right-wing Labour government and a Tory government; they are the same, except Labour is more treacherous and so, presumably, less welcome. What matters is the purity of the attempt. This makes me so angry a head-ache rises. Part of me wants them to be right, and to believe that they can – these two or three thousand people – form a socialist utopia in Britain with Corbyn as their leader. They really do believe that, because they are dreamers. I think it is insane because Britain is not, as Marx learnt and the Corbynistas forgot, a socialist country and it never will be; hence the head-ache.


Tosh McDonald, the president of ASLEF, speaks. He hated Margaret Thatcher so much, he says, he would get up an hour early to enjoy an hour more of hatred, which may be the single most pointless piece of political activism I have ever heard a man boast of. And the Labour MPs in the bubble opposite, dreaming of winning marginal constituencies in the next General Election – well, he hates them almost as much. I watch the woman doing sign: her fingers dance to Jez We Can. Then Malia Bouattia, the president-elect of the NUS: there are not enough bus bombings in Tel Aviv for her. Then John McDonnell, who at least knows how to use a microphone.

Corbyn will not resign, he says. If there is a leadership election he will stand again. I have never seen Corbyn-love before, and I do not understand it, although all here praise his ‘honesty’. He is, I am told, like Superman: he cannot tell a lie. I suppose he is the vessel of the dream, their Christ. When he appears he seems like a man in a dream; he does not mention the coup in progress, not at all, or defend himself, because that is what a politician would do. He talks, in a soft voice, about justice; but all I can hear is a political movement throwing itself, happily, into the abyss.


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