Shame on Islington North for falling for magic grandpa again

Corbyn’s win signals the scale of the long-term challenge faced by Starmer: to detoxify British politics


Jeremy Corbyn MP arrives at a World Transformed Event (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

July 05, 2024 13:07

So, the good people of Islington North have spoken. Just as Britain abandons Project Corbyn, the intelligentsia of Highbury Fields holds on – as Roger Waters once sang – to the dream.

I have a confession. I was born in Islington and lived there for many years. And yes, I do feel more than a trickle of shame.

I’ve spent plenty of time sitting in the well-appointed extensions of middle-class socialists trying to explain why magic grandpa is not the Messiah but just a bigoted populist, a mirror image of those on the far right that your standard Islingtonian loves to hate.

Clearly, my campaigning was to no avail. Jeremy wants peace and justice and hates genocide, and that’s enough for the true believers.

Of course, it would be disingenuous to suggest that Corbyn is selling a niche product. Candidates up and down the country won by tapping heavily into the Gaza vote.

But he is the full package for the quinoa class, the premium version of the organic vegetable basket – every hard-left belief packed into one box – and he knows it.

At a campaign rally at a community centre in the borough, amid an interminable ramble about war and peace, Corbyn conceded: “I eat croissants. And if you want to, then it is fine by me.”

He may have mis-read the country in repeated general elections, but no one can accuse him of getting Islington wrong. And by doing that, he has shown that his brand has life in it yet.

In a small, Islington-sized way, there lies the true challenge facing Keir Starmer: a successful government cannot merely seek to improve life for Britons – it must detoxify politics itself.

July 05, 2024 13:07

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