Tanya Gold

Wish a final farewell to Jeremy Corbyn, the god of tiny rooms

After Labour's decision to ban him from standing for the party in Islington North, his followers can convince themselves of anything except their complicity in their own failure


Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks at a protest rally in support of Britain's National Health Service (NHS) and proper pay for it's staff and workers, in central London on March 11, 2023. (Photo by Susannah Ireland / AFP) (Photo by SUSANNAH IRELAND/AFP via Getty Images)

April 04, 2023 10:45

Now he is forbidden from standing as a Labour candidate in Islington North, Jeremy Corbyn is preparing for a final battle. He will stand as an independent, or maybe a Green, if they will have him. Or maybe he will form his own political party.

His supporters are pleading for this in words that read like prayers, because Corbynism is a religion with hierarchies of its own. (There is even gossip that his son will stand in his stead. Corbynism has multiple weird parallels with Christianity — they share a saviour concept, and an enemy in Jews — so presenting a son as redemptive sacrifice is logical.)

“I will not be intimidated into silence,” Corbyn said, though there isn’t a voter alive who doesn’t know his views. He might win in Islington North. Supporters are already tweeting their availability for canvassing and predicting a renewal of renewal.

I hope he has a spreadsheet. It is one seat; not exactly a mass movement but the Corbynites, who live on fantasies and conspiracies, can convince themselves of anything except their complicity in their own failure.

They won’t trot gaily into the night. They can’t. The cleverer ones —Jon Lansman , for instance — mourn Labour’s rejection of Corbyn but still want the party to succeed. True Corbynites aren’t capable of that kind of negotiation, or generosity, because their politics, and their prejudice, inhabits their subconscious. That is why they are raging and childlike.

Their informal mantra, “Be Kind”, which enables them to perform all sorts of personal cruelty — on Twitter, Mrs Corbyn told Ed Miliband his dead father would be ashamed of him — is part of their structure of denial. How can the community of the good be cruel?

This week, they disseminated the conspiracy theory they have relied on these past seven years to explain their failures to themselves. When challenged, they taunted Jews. Their preferred taunt is “Nazi”.

They insisted on the “hierarchy of racism”. This conspiracy says there is limited space for anti-racist discourse in Britain, and Jews have taken it all. Even when we speak in our defence, we are greedy. In naming racism, we are racist; in caring, we are careless.

“Antisemitism is weaponised as a way to silence us on Islamophobia and anti-blackness rather than being seen as part as a shared struggle against racism,” said one Corbynite, whose “shared struggle” involved defending the person who wrote “Free Palestine” on the walls of the Warsaw Ghetto.

If they project their cruelty onto Jews, they also project their racism. Even using the word hierarchy — a word preening with power, and the reluctance to share power — about a community whose continental European cousins are dead or exiled is obscene, but these people are not skilled in literary criticism, and they no longer see Jews as human, if they ever did.

Elsewhere, they spoke with sleight of hand. They said Corbyn didn’t disregard the findings of the Equality and Human Rights Commission report. (He accepted some of them.)

They said he apologised to Jewish people. (He didn’t, unless you think the words, “obviously I’m very sorry for everything that’s happened but I want to make this clear I am dealing with it, I have dealt with it,” spoken in 2019, adding, “other parties are also affected by antisemitism,” are adequate.)

They said he sought to engage with the Jewish Labour Movement. (He didn’t in any meaningful way.) They said he won a majority among working-age people in 2019, which isn’t winning, unless you are insane.

The self-pity was laughable. An approach to Corbyn by a young Sky News reporter, which he batted off with pulsing eyes, was spun as “hounding”. (A milkshake thrown at Nigel Farage, though, is righteous. I despise Farage, but I wouldn’t throw blended milk at him; the principles of liberal democracy elude the Corbynites.)

What a loss, they cried, for one man to leave Labour, if he is Jeremy Corbyn. Of the many Jewish members and voters who left when it became materially unsafe for Jews, unless they were good Jews who said they hated Israel, there was no word. All their pity is for themselves.

Their legacy is a reanimation of the conspiracy theory that Jews will subvert a democracy if it is in their interests, and the fact that young people — Corbyn’s constituency — are the most antisemitic group in Britain.

The young Charedi, the most visible Jews, will pay the price, as will others. Corbynites have failed British Jews, and themselves, but mostly they have failed the people they claim to cherish, but weirdly cannot see: the destitute. Still, on he goes, glibly, hearing nothing he does not want to hear, and seeing nothing he does not want to see: a god in tiny rooms.

April 04, 2023 10:45

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