THE BLOG

Is Jeremy Corbyn The New Messiah?

21/08/2015 17:09 BST | Updated 21/08/2016 10:59 BST

It hasn't gone unnoticed that Jeremy Corbyn shares his initials with another figure of hope from history.

The other JC was also plucked from relative obscurity and thrust into the public arena with little initial appetite for the responsibilities imposed on him. He also found himself bearing the wishes and dreams of a downtrodden populous seeking a figurehead to lead them out of the wilderness into a fairer society. He also had a beard, which apparently is important right now.

Just like Jesus Christ, Jeremy Corbyn has become a source of comfort to many of those who believe in him, even if many of them haven't regularly worshipped in his church. The hopes invested in him as he makes his seemingly unstoppable journey to victory aren't far short of messianic. The crowds of upturned faces, waving arms and tearful adulation at the recent rallies he's fronted can't help but put you in mind of a religious event.

In a similarly transcendental manner he's inspired many new disciples who see him as the only hope of turning the Labour Party from the irrelevant distraction it's become into a force against the evil excesses of the occupying forces of neo-liberalism.

In ancient Judea it was the Romans. In modern Britain it's the Tories. Although it's not known if Jesus charged his disciples three Denarii to attend the sermon on the mount.

Labour is charging an entrance fee for the privilege though, as well as demanding an oath of fealty to their aims and aspirations. Fair enough, but the problem is many of the new converts seem to have a better idea about what those should be than the party grandees do.

The concept of buying into an election, in the way many seem to be doing right now, was flawed from the outset, but not as much as the idea that after having offered the vote to anyone who cares to sign up, you then decide to edit that offer on the fly. We have all the ingredients for a stitch up and plenty of people who already have the needle. It's a tawdry spectacle that risks de-legitimising the result and makes the party look even more morally questionable than I previously thought.

I've not voted for Labour for over 10 years now, and having recently stood as a Parliamentary candidate for The Green Party, I'd not pass Labour's fairly arbitrary test as to my belief in their core values, even though I'd say Greens have in fact been the torch bearers for many of those forgotten aspirations for years. The fact that many in the Parliamentary Labour Party would probably fail that test themselves just goes to show how capricious the exclusion process will probably become.

I'd also suggest that party officials and office staff probably have better things to do right now than spend their days poring over the social media profiles of potential supporters like suspicious spouses searching for grounds for divorce.

Why anyone would want to take part in the leadership election for a party they didn't previously support and haven't voted for bewilders me. I've supported the Greens for a number of years now but only joined the party about 3 years ago. The reason I chose them over my previous Labour allegiance was the long slow slink into ideological decrepitude that Labour had been taking for what seemed like about 25 years.

Even before the political androgyny that Blair infected it with, the Labour Party had lost it's mojo on so many levels. It was either rooted in it's past of veiny-necked, class war dogma, or jumping every other trans-national corporate bandwagon that whistled past it's tattered doctrine.

Of those two steady states, it's arguable that Labour really only has a role in the former. Accordingly Corbyn freely extemporises on those golden years of outright opposition to the excesses of a party that would culminate in the hatchet that Thatcher took to social justice in the 1980s.

But it has to be remembered that throughout that period, opposition is all they had going for them. They were never to find a way of properly framing that position in a way that made them electable. The only solution that finally got their feet under the Cabinet Office table was to allow a Thatcherite clone to jettison most of their 'core values', whilst indulging in a monumental bout of cognitive dissonance.

Equally the current squabbles between leadership candidates, who seem to have more concern for opposing each other than they do of countering the worst excesses of a newly minted government, fits with the post-Blair landscape and will probably serve to keep the party in it's present wilderness for many more years.

I hesitate to say it, but I think what's missing is some mythical middle ground.

The direction taken by any political party can't all be loaded on to the shoulders of the leader, and anyone who wants to take on that role should be looking to unite it's members rather than divide them. That takes a certain amount of sacrifice and moral certitude that I'm not seeing from what it's plain are going to be the runners up in the current contest.

By the same token, the idea that one man is going to be able to wave his hand and regenerate a progressively socialist agenda in a party that is now firmly rooted in right leaning, centrist politics is wishful thinking of gargantuan proportions.

The party faithful and those who are now rushing to pledge their vote to such a leader are clutching at a very well constructed straw man. I'm not questioning Corbyn's abilities or commitment, just the perception of his role within the process. The party is not the leader and the leader is not the party. Without the will from both the PLP and the electorate there will be no transformational dawning of a new age in British politics born of one man.

With or without Corbyn as their leader, the Labour Party has a very long road ahead with many dead ends and cul-de-sacs along the way. At the risk of 'labouring' the biblical metaphors, it's a road to Damascus that many of the sitting Labour MPs and their supporters will need to be dragged kicking and screaming down, amid the potential implosion of the party. That's a heavy cross for one man to bear, along with all the other expectations being pinned to his leadership.

It is slightly worrying though that JC might be starting to believe his own omnipotence as he makes pledges on policies he's very unlikely to ever achieve, whilst giving apologies for the actions of former leaders before he's even got the name badge. That smacks of hubristic tokenism from someone getting far too carried away with the moment. Maybe that's understandable, but it suggests that the anointed one is just as susceptible to bouts of egotism as his rivals.

Not that I'm joining the calls for what is laughingly referred to as 'realism' in politics, by which I think most people mean leaving things as they are. Political leaders are after all supposed to be visionaries, thinking the improbable and making those things possible. If politicians were realistic we'd never have had the NHS, the welfare state, or the banking crisis.

Whilst I'm happy to be a bystander, I hope Jeremy does win, mainly because he's a preferable personality to the other three androids in the running. If nothing else, his victory will make Labour interesting again and it may well start the process of political reform that we so desperately need in this country.

But this all assumes that the man who is most likely to become the new figurehead of this evangelical movement doesn't meet with the same fate as that other similarly initialled redeemer supposedly did 2015 years ago, when his supporters got tired of waiting for the miracles to start happening.