I live in Camberwell, in what could be described as Camberwell-Peckham borders (in other words, when I’m applying for a bank account in live in Camberwell; when I want to seem edgy, I live in Peckham). It is, as most of you will know already, an incredibly diverse area, both ethnically and socio-economically. It is also core Labour territory; in fact, post-losing Scotland completely and on the cusp of losing the north of England and Wales, my part of south London may be one of the few parts of the country than can claim to be core Labour territory any longer.
I have two kids, which brings me into contact with other children’s parents, teachers, librarians; people who would never think of voting for anyone but Labour. A year ago, most of these people were solid Jeremy Corbyn supporters, and even seemed to take any criticism of him personally; he was “their guy”, the one political leader who seemed to care about the problems that they faced. But as the general election campaigns have kicked off, I’ve seen a sudden change in this dynamic.
A local woman who had previously had nothing but praise for Corbyn spoke to me the other day, specifically about the performances of Corbyn and Abbott. I want to preface this by saying that I in no way pushed the conversation towards this area; I keep pretty schtum about my dislike of Corbyn around Camberwell and Peckham and try and avoid politics as a topic of conversation with teachers and other parents. She was absolutely scornful towards Abbott: “How could she go on the radio and not know what she was talking about? People are depending on her to win this election and it’s like she doesn’t give the slightest toss.” About Corbyn though, she was emotional, a lump in her throat audible. “That ‘Monsieur Zen’ stuff. The Tories want to tear everything down, close our schools and hospitals. And he’s totally relaxed about it all.” Then came the stinger: “It’s like he doesn’t care about winning the election at all.”
I was amazed, mostly because I didn’t think any of that stuff was filtering through to a non-Westminster bubble audience at all. Also, the woman had very perceptively picked up on something real: Corbyn is relaxed because he knows he isn’t going to win, and furthermore doesn’t really care about that fact. He’s about to see a whole load of PLP members whom he dislikes lose their seats, creating a Labour Party that will be a pure, socialist vehicle, and he’s overjoyed. As for those who are desperate for a Labour government – who feel they will feel the brunt of any Tory cuts and are terrified – well, they can get stuffed. The revolution is more important.
People ask me all the time why I’m so mean to Jeremy Corbyn; why I seem to feel such a personal, almost visceral dislike of the man. And this is it: he has gained the trust of millions of people who have bought into his routine and believe that he knows what he’s doing in honestly going about trying the best he can to become prime minister. But he has no intention of doing that – he knows he will never walk into Number 10 with a majority and furthermore, doesn’t want to. It’s like he’s leading a whole group of people towards a cliff, only they think it’s the border to a new Eden, all while he knows without doubt that it’s a cliff and furthermore, he’s the only one holding a parachute. I find that deeply morally reprehensible.
While people such as the woman in Camberwell who related her horror to me at the “Monsieur Zen” routine will almost certainly vote Labour in four weeks’ time, one has to wonder for how much longer they will continue doing so. Particularly after June 9th, when they will wake up in horror to find the Tories with a huge majority – and Corbyn on television wearing a broad smile, talking about how much more work he has to do as Labour leader.
Nick stewart says
I see no evidence that Corbyn does not wish to win. Even a cursory glance at his speeches should be enough to dispel that thought. As for the zen thing … I may be wrong but I think it was a … joke? I mean, really, it was as funny, or not, as any other politician’s grasp at humor.
This is why I loath Corbyn, McDonnell, Abbott, Milne, et al. They must know that there’s no chance that they’re going to win the election, and that they’re a major cause of Labour’s perilous polling position – this is both personality and policy based problem, and they’re prioritising faction over party, and party over the people they claim to represent.
My God – if people really loathe Corbyn because there’s no chance he’s going to win the election, how must they feel about Farron?
Interesting question, but I think the problem for the Lib Dems is, no one sees them as a party that can get a parliamentary majority, so it’s different. In other words, people are upset about Corbyn seeming lackadaisical about winning because by its very nature, Labour winning is the only way to stop the Tories from doing so. The same sort of moral pressure therefore isn’t applied to Farron (both for his benefit, but ultimately, to his discredit).
You’ll have to make allowance for the majority of us mere mortals who can’t read people’s minds and foretell the future. Not that even your predictions have always been infallible 🙂
‘Look, we always knew this was going to be a long struggle. the people who joined Labour and made it the biggest socialist party in Europe didn’t do so expecting an easy victory, or a quick one. We may have lost a hundred MPs, but we are winning the arguments. People said we would be utterly wiped out in Wales, but look: we still have two MPs there. If that’s not success, I don’t know what is!’
Corbyn would be scared rigid if he did win. This has always been about owing a mass movement for protest, not to the hard choices of government. His wing of the party have dreamed of this for years and they won’t let go now. The only thing they care about is getting a percentage share more than foot to hang on (hence touring safe seats) and then the corbynjte successor long bailey. They are con man pretending to care about the many when really only caring about control over the party for their faction regardless of permanent tory rule , they are shamefw
This has brought me to tears.
Tory cuts to mental health services led to the death of my child’s father last year. The service which helped him cling onto life was cut.
I have no real place in the Labour Party but I cannot bring myself to leave at the moment. I hold onto the hope that post-election we can force this man and his Jonestown brigade out but deep down I know I am deluded.