OK, credit to Toynbee for belatedly praising Corbyn. Just to pick out a few points though; Corbyn has DEVELOPED as a leader, but he has not changed specific to his basic principles. He has always been a democrat, and he has always been a listener. What HAS changed, is that Toynbee and almost all the mainstream media PROJECTED on to Corbyn, McDonnell et al, what THEY thought, not the actual reality. Corbyn has always compromised and ‘reached-out’; his first, and subsequent Shadow Cabinets have covered all ‘parts’ of the party, including those he supposedly hates (of course, he doesn’t). What Toynbee is pointing out, without saying it, is that she, along with virtually every one else, was wrong about Corbyn. About McDonnell. About The Movement. The, quite frankly, unprecedented humility shown by Corbyn and WLG/Momentum/The Movement and blind-eye turning/tongue biting they demonstrated, while facing mass internal opposition and outright abuse, has been indicative of Corbyn and The Movement since day dot.
Of course, like anywhere, you may have the odd arsehole, but I have yet to see it first-hand. In our Welsh Labour Grassroots/Momentum group I am told-by the media-that we are a bunch of anarchist, jobless, hate-filled racists; but when I look at the breath of ages, economically diverse, gender balanced people of all colours, cultures and faiths I see merely decent people: professors, solicitors, teachers, unemployed, single mothers, single fathers, students, social workers, economists, retail workers, councillors, retired folk, children etc.
You will, and do, get those who still absolutely do not ‘get it’. I don’t mean they disagree with ideology or policy, which is of course entirely their privilege to do so, I mean they STILL do not understand what is going on, why it is happening, and why ‘their way’ exists in a minority of the electorate, but majority of the mainstream media and Westminster bubble. My own Labour MP has gone so far out of their way to not praise, or even positively mention the current JC AT ALL since he helped them add 8,000 new votes in a constituency that the official Labour campaign only targeted those known to have voted Labour previously, while leaving all mention of Labour and Labour logos off a lot of the campaigning material; yet we campaigned for the candidate despite attempts to keep us Corbyn lot away.
It is THEY who have to change unless they want to look petty, pedantic and ‘sore winners’ and deniers of reality. The best examples of this: The Tories and the political commentariat/media editors. They remind me a bit of that General in Iraq, always interviewed on camera, who remained loyal to Saddam Hussein, saying they were still very much in control and on-point with the people, while, quite literally, in the background, the people were pulling down the statue of Saddam. Were I relevant enough to the narrative, the aforementioned people would now be creating the headline “Corbyn supporters believe New Labour lot are as bad as Saddam Hussein!”.
Again, were I relevant enough, the BBC would be deriding me on air for making such a comparison. They would insinuate I was part of a cult. I would point out that, from my perspective, a cult is usually the minority…I would also point out that defending someone most of us have been waiting our lives for, and defending ourselves, against the daily abuse/character assassinations/lies/hate etc, or ‘circling the wagons’ is an inevitable consequence of dealing with the aforementioned bile thrown at ‘The Leader’, and us all.
Which brings us to the man himself. While it was absolutely essential Corbyn was elected Labour leader-if only to act as an anchor to the runaway Neo Liberal train that crossed both parties-and that I know of no one else who could have maintained such resolve, dignity, compassion and STILL reached out to those doing everything to bring him down, by his own admission, Corbyn is merely a front to a Movement. He is one of us; he has our back, we have his. Collectivism. Socialism-to quote the late, great, Hugo Chavez-“21st Century Socialism”… Somewhere else in the article where Toynbee is wrong, is about the Brexit vote; it was not a top-down stitch-up as she says-it was democratically decided by members on the Conference Arrangement Committee. Again, collectivism and inclusiveness.
There has been talk, from those who have the loudest voices in the media, but who were wrong about every single major political event of at least the last 2 years, that we may have reached “Peak Corbyn”. This, once again, fundamentally misunderstands what is going on; it is a Movement, not a man. It’s just that for once, thanks to our ridiculously outdated voting system, there is an option of someone who can actual be in power who shares the policies, ideals, morals, ethics, compassion and progressive ideology of millions of people. When have we had that option in the last 30+ years? We haven’t. If we voted for one of the main parties, we have had to vote with massive reservations.
It will also continue to be VERY difficult for this movement; the roots of extreme, rogue, Neo Liberal Free Market Capitalism run very deep in our society. There is, and will continue to be, HUGE opposition to what we are collectively trying to achieve. I also do not doubt the lengths that the aforementioned will go to to stop The Movement; anything will go. Anything. It will also be difficult as The Left has not had this opportunity before really; we are not used to power or at least, potential power. Therefore, there are many people with many different takes on what is the ‘correct’ way to do things; which will, inevitably, play into the hands of the critics and their “The Left always fight and disagree, they can’t be coherent!” narrative.
We must remember that we are ultimately on the same page, pointing in the same direction-support each other, deal head-on but politely with any issues. Remember that different people take different things from this Movement-while we are all committed and all want change, for some they want to be more direct, for others the focus is on the social side of creating change. No way, that broadly follows along the lines of the basic principles, is ‘wrong’. So, embrace differences, listen to each other and remember who the true enemy is. We must also embrace all those who disagree with us; we can all learn from each other, and none of us should be too precious about the way things need to be done. The important thing is the end goal. The more collective we are, despite differences, the more successful we will be…which means the better the UK will be.
So, now Corbyn and the Movement are making the much-under-estimated cultural impact on society, we must continue to build the Movement so that when the time comes, the next head of this wonderful bunch of people, is able to, as seamlessly as possible, click in and continue the good work and development. I am hopeful and excited by the prospect of Prime Minister Corbyn; but remember, we are currently trying to change THEIR world in to OUR world, and so we will all have to make & accept compromises, despite the goal being the same. That is because none of us are the same. But to quote Emily Thornberry:
“Nothing is stronger, nothing on earth than a person of principle … whose unshakeable values will carry him (or her) to Downing Street”…Solidarity with you all.