In the wake of a stunning turnaround within the Labour Party, with the left having lost control of the party, something they looked certain to hold onto for a generation at least, the core myths that propel Corbynistas onward are widely circulating on social media. I have decided to sit down and debunk the five most prominent of them.
- Corbynite policies are “wildly popular”
Corbynistas like to point to the fact that some of JC’s policies were very popular with the public. Re-nationalisation of the trains is the classic amongst these that gets a mention. Yes, these policies poll well – they are also low salience, meaning that while people are generally in favour, they also don’t care that much either way. In terms of what will make them vote for one party or another, low salience issues don’t help you much, even if 100% of people want the policy in question enacted. It’s like the Lib Dems pointing to the fact that most people want cannabis legalised or want House of Lords reform. Yes, perhaps, but that doesn’t mean loads of people are going to vote for the Lib Dems because, to repeat, people may favour these things but don’t care very much about them. This applies to almost every policy that Corbynites cite as being wildly popular.
This is before we get to all of the Corbyn policies that were wildly unpopular with the voting public, such as pretty much the whole of his foreign policy agenda.
2. Labour almost won the 2017 general election
I’ve written a whole article about this already, so I don’t want to repeat myself too much here. To summarise: this “Corbyn was 2,000 votes from victory” is total nonsense. If Labour had won a couple thousand more votes perfectly efficiently in a handful of seats, the Tories would have been unable to form a government with the DUP. The Corbynistas then make the leap of faith that this would have meant that Labour “won”, when in reality they would still have been almost 50 seats short of a majority, needing to try and form a government with the SNP, the Lib Dems, the Greens, and Plaid, all for a majority of 1. If you want to consider that a Labour victory, at least spell out explicitly that this is what you mean.
3. Corbyn didn’t win because he was “stabbed in the back” by a cabal of evil characters
The “stabbed in the back” myth is a long running far left device. What else is there to reach for when they constantly lose other than to question their own beliefs and tactics, something they aren’t going to do? Boris Johnson went into the 2019 general election having gone to war with the entire moderate wing of his own party. He won an 80 seat majority. The left constantly bitched about Blair during his time as leader and yet Labour won three straight elections. I could go on, but you get the drift.
4. Corbyn didn’t win because the “MSM” conspired against him
Corbynites use this one as if every other Labour leader was fawned over by the media and only poor Jeremy was given a particularly hard ride because of all those cursed Blairites in high places. Every Labour leader has to figure out how to navigate a media, particularly a predominantly right of centre print media, that gives their party a hard time. Perhaps Corbyn should have worked on a media strategy that went beyond saying “Can I just finish?’ and making a face like he smelled a fart whenever asked an even slightly tricky question.
5. Corbyn defeated the Tory government 21 times
Corbyn had as little to do with those defeats as was physically possible while remaining the leader of the opposition. They all happened because of splits in the Conservative Party about the shape of Brexit and Corbyn just rode the storm. As little as possible, I might add, mostly because he never actually wanted to stop Brexit. If Theresa May had been better at politics – all right, if Theresa May had been in any way good at politics – none of those defeats would have ever happened. Amongst all of the Corbynistas claims for their hero, this one if the most pathetic.
There are plenty more Corbynite myths, but I think these five are the most common and are among the more egregious (they are actually probably the most awful claims they make that don’t involve actual racism to some degree). At least you can say this: all they have left now is their petty myths, which is massive progress.
I have a book out now called “Politics is Murder”. It follows the tale of a woman named Charlotte working at a failing think tank who has got ahead in her career in a novel way – she is a serial killer. One day, the police turn up at her door and tell her she is a suspect in a murder – only thing is, it is one she had nothing to do with. The plot takes in Conservative Party conference, a plot against the Foreign Secretary and some gangsters while Charlotte tries to find out who is trying to frame her for a murder she didn’t commit.
Also: there is a subplot around the government trying to built a stupid bridge, which now seems a charming echo of a more innocent time!
I think you’re right that Corbyn’s policies weren’t wildly popular, but I don’t think any were actually wildly hated either, I don’t even think I heard most people mention his foreign policies, the fact is, I don’t think most people care about specific policies. They care more about the messages a leader gives out, and how competently they do so. Corbyn was incompetent, and his message of old labourism didn’t resonate with people.