With Jeremy Corbyn’s recent re-election as leader having seemingly strengthened his grip on the Labour Party, the question remains as to exactly what is the appeal to his fervent supporters of this sandal wearing, vegan, beardie weirdie peacnik? In search of an answer, The Sleaze has spent the last few days at Labour’s annual conference. Despite Corbyn’s lack of charisma, learship skills or intellectual horsepower, he seems to instil in his devotees an almost religious fervour, with them viewing him as some kind of political messiah. “Well, it’s not as if there aren’t parallels, is it?” Adele Frukeston, a biology student and self described ‘Corbynista’ told us. “Just look at the initials: ‘JC’. Plus the fact that he spent years wandering in the wilderness, resisting the temptations of Diane Abbot, before emerging as leader. Most recently, of course, he’s been ‘crucified’ by the Parliamentary party, yet has risen again to smite the ‘Blairite’ bastards!” The most devout ‘Corbynistas’, like Frukeston’, are even prepared to ascribe ‘special powers’ to their idol. “There’s no doubt that he has an aura about him,” she breathlessly informed us. “I’ve even heard that a couple of older delegates have claimed to have had their lumbago and arthritis cured after Jeremy brushed past them at the conference! Some people are saying that by the end of this conference we’ll have enough evidence of miracles on his part to have Jeremy canonised! ‘Saint Corbyn’, imagine that!”
At least one of Corbyn’s critics isn’t surprised that his support seems to centre around a quasi-religious cult of personality. “I know there are a lot of people who would like us to believe that he’s some kind of ‘Socialist Messiah’, bringing the true creed of pure socialism back to a Labour Party corrupted by capitalism, the truth is that, politically, all he’s offered up is a confused combination of warmed over seventies economics and student politics,” opined veteran Labour MP and former Minister for Fish, John Dagmart. “With no political substance to his message, he and his people have no choice but to substitute all this mystical, quasi-religious bollocks, instead. A bit like Tony Blair tried to substitute his Christian beliefs when he lost his faith in socialism, really.” Dagmart does not believe that a cult of personality led semi-religious campaign is any basis for achieing the aims of the Labour Party. “Whether these ‘Corbynites’ like it or not, the fact is that if we’re going to actually help the less well off in society, them we need to win power,” he told The Sleaze, when we met at a fringe meeting about the role of fish in Keynsian economics. “And that means persuading enough people to vote for us that we win more seats than the bastard Tories – but we aren’t going to do that by, quite literally, preaching to the converted like Corbyn does.” Indeed, Dagmart is particularly critical of Corbyn’s apparent preference for addressing rallies of supporters, rather than engaging with actual voters at the hustings or on the doorstep.
“They just don’t understand – we don’t need ‘power’ in the traditional sense of a parliamentary majority. We have the power of Jeremy!” retired nurse Marjorie Bubes, a leading Corbyn loyalist and Momentum activist told us, in response to the criticisms of Dagmart and other Labour MPs. “This is what the Blairites don’t grasp, with their old-fashioned notions of conducting politics through things like winning elections and appealing to to the wider electorate. With Jeremy we don’t have to waste energy on that nonsense – the power he exudes will win everyone around.” According to Bubes, who confesses that she’d had no real interest in politics until she felt herself touched by the power of Corbyn whilst watching him on TV, there are already ample examples of Corbyn’s power in action to convince any sceptic. “How else do you think that, under Jeremy’s leadership, we’ve inflicted all those policy defeats on the government, despite not having anything close to sufficient MPs to out vote them in the Commons?” she enthused. “It’s all down to the power of Jeremy!” She dismisses the fact that these supposed ‘defeats’ of the government were actually the result of some Tory MPs abstaining during key votes. “Obviously, those defeats were the result of the Tory back benchers refusing to support their own government, but why do you think they did that?” gushes Bubes. “That’s right – it was the power of Jeremy!”
One senior member of Momentum, the group set up to promote the ‘Corbynite’ agenda, told us that the adulation of the crowds of loyal ‘Corbynites’ that the Labour leader regularly addresses is essential to his power, their almost orgiastic passion for his wisdom generating the energy he needs to fully charge up his powers. “It’s what those ‘Blairite’ traditionalists just don’t understand – it’s got nothing to do with winning votes!” the official, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Sleaze. “A Labour victory under Jeremy will be fuelled by the love of his supporters! Why else do you think we’re called Momentum? All those rallies full of students naive do-gooders worshipping Jeremy they organise are reinforcing his power, giving, quite literally, momentum to his inevitable victory!”
During our time at the conference, it seemed that any questions about perceived deficiencies in Corbyn’s leadership were always answered by his supporters by referring to his ‘power’. “We don’t need detailed policies!” Adele Frukeston told us, for instance, when the issue of Corbyn’s lack of credible policies was raised. “When the time comes, Jeremy will provide, just as he has always done!” This simple faith in Corbyn amongst his supporters seems to extend to practical matters of how his vision of socialism is to implemented. “I know that the Tories and the ‘Blairites’ like to ask how he’s going to pay for all the stuff he’s promising, but that’s completely irrelevant, “ Marjorie Bubes explained. “I’m sure that the first thing he’ll do when he ascends to power is appear on TV with a ‘Filet of Fish’ in one hand and a carton of fries in the other and use them to feed the hungry of Britain. Once he’s done that, I’m sure that he’ll provide for the homeless in a similar way, with five bricks and a roofing tile.”