26 September 2016
I have been getting quite a few YDUB (‘you don’t understand, Bryan’) responses when I tweet my less than enthusiastic feelings about Jeremy Corbyn. YDUBs cause a red mist to descend more effectively than outright abuse – it’s the lugubrious condescension – and especially so in the case of Corbyn because, you see, I do understand.
I have known Corbyn for most of my conscious life. I knew him at school, at university and at work, notably when certain gangsters – soi-disant trade unionists – tried to destroy the British press. The Corbyn is always the one sitting to one side staring with cold judgmentalism at the events and people around him. He knows, he thinks, everything in spite of the fact that he reads nothing unless it is by people who agree with or admire him. He is absolutely certain that he is right.
This is a psychological point I am making, not a political one. The Corbyns I have known have been equally distributed between right and left. In fact, it hardly matters what they say they are since, as we all know, at the extreme ends of the spectrum, right and left merge into one lurid nightmare of deluded certainty. The only difference worth noting is that left-wing Corbyns of the past have been markedly more successful when it comes to mass murder.
I knew from the first moment I became fully aware of him that Corbyn was a Corbyn. I remember a shot of him sitting on the back benches giving that cold judgmental stare at, I think, George Osborne. Fair’s fair, we’ve all done that but I knew at once that this was a habitual cold starer. Okay, so that was this Corbyn put neatly into the box with all the preceding Corbyns. I have systematically excluded them all from my life and there was no reason I should not do the same with this one.
Later I realised I had been misled by my habitual exclusions. This was not a Corbyn, this was THE Corbyn, the final distillation of the species.
The first hint of this came in a typically piercing analysis by John Gray. Surveying the tolerance of Corbyn’s Labour Party for terrorism, brutality, bullying, sexism and anti-semitism, he observed, “For the first time in its history, a serious question must be asked as to whether Labour can be trusted to promote civilised values.”
This stunned me because I realised at once it was true and that something that looked suspiciously like evil lurked in British politics. The overwhelming emphasis on the welfare and workings of “The Party” is the clearest possible warning sign for, when The Party starts to come first, democracy comes second and, as we should all know, in the worst cases fields of corpses tend to follow. Reading Gray or Nick Cohen will provide you with plenty of further evidence.
I started watching Corbyn more closely and noted my findings in a tweet – “moral impassivity, coldness, sarcasm and self-regard”. He is the judgmental starer, ignorant but certain.
I despise judgmentalism and I cannot even understand certainty, but both are now in the ascendant in the Labour Party. Like most people, I have assumed that inevitable electoral disaster will be the cure for these inhuman afflictions. But I’m not so sure now. Speakers for Momentum sound more plausible, lucid and clever than Corbyn – probably he is their useful idiot – and, in fact, it is not their policies that I find alarming. Having drifted to the left myself, I would probably agree with many of them. They could, conceivably, persuade the electorate if Theresa May loses her grip.
But, as I say, this is not about politics, it is about psychology. It doesn’t matter what policies the Corbynistas now embrace and how much niceness they exude, everything would change if they got into power. There are plenty of precedents. Corbyn is the supreme Corbyn and my little box is not big enough to contain him. But he must be contained.