As one who writes some critical things regarding Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership from time to time, I have been on the receiving end of a reasonable amount of Corbynista abuse. The one thing about it I find truly fascinating is that they are genuinely outraged by any attack, perceived or otherwise on their man; the fans of Jeremy assume you must have some sort of ulterior motive or agenda given the guy is so transparently wonderful. I find their faith weirdly touching in a way.
It made me wonder yesterday if perhaps it was this lack of all-encompassing faith that sunk the Lib Dems in the last general election. The opprobrium heaped upon Nick Clegg in the last parliament makes the ride Corbyn is getting from the media at present a soft one by comparison. Sure, Clegg was in government so that was to be expected, but why didn’t Lib Dems respond to attacks on their leader in the same way Corbynistas do now? There are many easy and obvious answers to that one: liberals like to think that everything they do is grounded in some sort of logic, whereas socialism is a utopian mindset. Liberals also like to respect other people’s opinions – look to Stalin’s purges for evidence of socialism’s rather more trying relationship with alternative viewpoints.
But the question I’m putting forth today isn’t the why, but rather the what if. Had Clegg’s supporters taken to social media like a pack of Rottweilers and tore into anyone who dared criticised him in a Corbynista fashion, would that have helped the Lib Dems electorally? Thinking about it, the answer is pretty obvious: of course it wouldn’t have. For lots of reasons, but most pointedly because the vast majority of people who vote in this country either don’t pay any attention to social media or even if they do, it has no affect whatsoever on who they would or wouldn’t vote for.
Would it have made Lib Dems feel better at least? I really doubt it. Probably would have made May 2015 even worse, as by building up all that froth only to see it not go your way the let down might have been even more severe. So to transfer the question to the present day, will all this internet bile help Labour in 2020? Again, the answer is, of course it won’t. It probably will make things even more painful, by getting their expectations up to fever pitch only to see them crash and burn. Will the Corbynistas learn this lesson before 2020? I think it looks as if they are going to have to learn it the hard way.