If hell is other people, Twitter is the Devil’s noticeboard. Occasionally, though, its asteroid-inviting awfulness unearths a little insight into human nature, specifically when our instincts clash with our ideology. Take J.K. Rowling, author of the Cormoran Strike series who has also dabbled a little in children’s fiction. The Scottish novelist is a well-kent supporter of left-of-centre causes and has backed up her conscience with her coin. Her broadsides against Donald Trump and Brexit have made her an enemy of the intemperate right. Far more perplexing is that strain of leftist that bears ill-will towards someone whose politics are barely distinguishable from Neil Kinnock’s and who — I do so hate to be vulgar — has expended a good chunk of her treasure funding their movement.
Rowling’s tweets criticising Jeremy Corbyn’s support for Brexit and the Labour Party’s toleration of anti-Semitism attract extraordinary opprobrium from the far-left. Jeremy Corbyn does support Brexit and, when it comes to Jews, the Labour Party is a racist endeavour. Corbynistas of all standing regularly have a go at Rowling, from the lowliest Momentum grunt all the way up to Dr Aaron Bastani PhD.
There is also this line of argument, which I reckon a great many Corbynistas sincerely believe, if for no other reason than to rationalise away progressives who oppose Grampa Jesus:
If Rowling is a secret Tory, she’s hella deep undercover. Twice in the past decade she has helped saved Labour’s hide. The first time came in 2008 when she donated £1m to the party ahead of its annual conference, saying:
‘I believe that poor and vulnerable families will fare much better under the Labour Party than they would under a Cameron-led Conservative Party. Gordon Brown has consistently prioritised and introduced measures that will save as many children as possible from a life lacking in opportunity or choice. The Labour government has reversed the long-term trend in child poverty, and is one of the leading EU countries in combating child poverty.’
What a Thatcherite melt.
Labour’s then general secretary Ray Collins thanked Rowling ‘for helping us in our work to make Britain a fairer and stronger country’. It’s little wonder he was so enthusiastic: Labour was £17.8m in debt at the time and would fight a general election campaign in 2010. As well as keeping the wolves from the door, Rowling’s donation boosted the party’s coffers in ways that probably helped save marginal seats. The Tories outspent Labour 2:1 in the 2010 election and without Rowling’s money the party’s campaign budget would have been equivalent to just 42 per cent of the Tory war chest. Ed Miliband would have inherited more debt and likely fewer seats, in turn making the 2015 defeat much worse than it was. And lo, upon His coming, the Messiah would have had even less of a rock on which to build his megachurch.
Rowling again came to Labour’s aid in 2014, when she financed the Better Together campaign, the cross-party but predominantly Labour-run effort to save the Union. The Absolute Boy has never been that bothered about the Union and his fanboys consider the SNP fellow radicals. (This is actually true: the SNP is exactly as radical as the Corbynistas.) The election after the referendum saw Labour reduced to one seat in Scotland, a victim of a nationalist surge and the party’s failure to frame its referendum victory as saving low-income Scots from the economic torture the SNP was willing to put them through for the fluttering of a few flags. (The Corbynista commentariat, who have a far clearer insight into Scottish politics from their vantage point of Shoreditch, will assure you Labour lost because it wasn’t as left-wing as the SNP, despite Scottish Labour’s 2015 manifesto being several leagues to the left of Nicola Sturgeon’s offering.) In truth, that election result was the second-worst possible outcome. The worst would have been if Scotland, the birthplace of Labour, had seceded from the UK, severing the party’s historical continuity and handing the Tories an electoral advantage. (Without Scotland, Theresa May would have won a majority in 2017.)
A social democratic party should champion someone like Rowling, a wealthy woman who happily defends progressive taxation and redistribution — a social justice warrior among the ‘one per cent’. Corbynistas suspect she’s a Tory because that’s exactly what she ought to be. Given her income, she is better off under this government than she would be under a Labour government of any ideological stripe. Yet it’s Rowling who wants a Labour government more than she wants to keep her own money while those inveighing against her want to keep Jeremy Corbyn more than they want a Labour government. She is Labour values in action and her cheques are part of the reason Labour is still in action today. For this, the Corbynistas tell her to shut up, go away and get out. A more appropriate two-word expression would be ‘thank you’.