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Does Corbyn have a Messiah Complex?


Fierce Writing

Not so much Rage Against the Machine as Slightly Peeved the Taps Won’t Work

Labour, politics

I received the following email from an associate of mine:

Hi Chris, I need your views… I was sickened yesterday when I saw on TV Corbyn at Glastonbury acting like he is some sort of Messiah, lauded by all those white, middle-class kids who paid £200 plus for their tickets who were applauding him for using the GRENFELL tragedy to to score political points… He then tells the organiser in private that he is going to scrap the British nuclear programme when he is PM. I think he has a Messiah complex. Suppose all those privileged kids had contributed their festival fee to helping the poor, now THAT would have been revolutionary.

Here is my reply:

What do you want me to say?

Let’s go back to the beginning. Remember, Corbyn only got onto the leadership ticket because a couple of Labour establishment figures thought we needed a proper debate and agreed to include a left winger. This is because the Labour Party had been transformed under Tony Blair into a centralised neo-liberal party in which constituencies no longer got to choose who their candidate was. They were mainly Blair loyalists parachuted in from central office. But once Corbyn was on the ticket it galvanised the membership in the Labour Party who wanted to see an alternative to austerity.

Corbyn only got chosen as it was his turn. The left in the Labour Party were a rump consisting of about dozen or so MPs, and everyone else had had a go. He never wanted to be PM.  He never chased office. He has the lowest expenses returns of any MP. He’s been consistent in his views throughout his life, voting according to his principles.

Under Blair, if you remember, the Labour Party had become as corrupt and self-serving as the Tory Party. Remember Stephen Byers, Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt. Blair left office and made himself unimaginably rich: the richest ex-Prime Minister ever. The Blair method was to appeal to the right wing press by instituting policies that the ruling class approved of. In other words, these weren’t Labour policies. Margaret Thatcher, when asked what her greatest achievement was, said “New Labour”. And there you have it. There was no longer a choice in politics. It was blue Tory vs red Tory, with hardly anything to choose between the two.

The financial crisis of 2008 gave governments around the world the opportunity to institute austerity. It was the corrupt, and frankly criminal, activities by the banks that caused the crash, but it was the public and public services who were being asked to pay. The banks were bailed out, hardly anyone went to jail, and the rest of us were asked to tighten our belts. But it was always fake. Austerity was the opposite of what was required. Old fashioned Keynesianism says that in a time of recession you need to stimulate the economy, not shrink it. The point is that austerity had nothing to do with helping the economy. It was a means by which wealth was being transferred, from the bottom to the top, allowing both Labour and the Tories to sell off what remained of our public services.

That’s the background to Corbyn’s rise, and the reason his message is proving so popular. It’s not because he has “a Messiah Complex”. It’s because the Labour manifesto is promising something other than this continual transfer of wealth from – for example – BHS’s pension scheme to Sir Philip Green‘s third yacht; from the less well off to the wealthy, in other words, a process that has been going on for the last 40 years and which has been accelerating under austerity.

Here’s the reason austerity is wrong. If you redistribute wealth from the poor to the rich, all they do is to squirrel it away in tax havens where it does nothing. If you do it the other way round, and redistribute from the rich to the poor, the poor spend their money, thus stimulating the economy, thus making us all better off. It worked in 1945, it continues to work in the Scandinavian countries, why wouldn’t it work here and now?

So rather than attack the policies, the press have decided to attack the man. He was a clown, if you remember. A fumbling idiot. Unpatriotic. Scruffy. Unelectable. Didn’t bow his head at the right angle at the cenotaph. Didn’t support our armed forces. A whole bunch of other stuff. Now he has “a Messiah Complex”. The amount of bad press has been extraordinary, and not only from the right wing media, which you would expect, but from the left and the centre as well: from the BBC, the Guardian and the Independent as well as the Sun and the Mail. From his own back benches.

So “Corbynism”, if you want to call it that, isn’t about the man, it’s about the policies. It’s a movement, of the sort that brought the Labour Party into being in the first place, and which brought it to power in 1945. Everyone thought then that Winston Churchill would be the post war leader, but what the pundits didn’t know – as they failed to recognise this time – is that there was a genuine grass-roots movement taking place. Then it was in the forces, amongst the mainly young men and women who had been asked to risk their lives in the fight against Nazism. Now it is amongst the youth, who have been asked to pay for the profligacy of the rich and of the old through increasing insecurity, low paid jobs and zero-hours contracts, while our governments, instead of fighting Nazism have been supporting it: selling arms to Saudi Arabia and supporting terrorism in Libya, Iraq and Syria. Then it was Atlee, now it is Corbyn.

As for him “scoring political points” over Grenfell: yes and why not? Grenfell is precisely the symbol of all that is wrong in this country: using inferior non fire resistant cladding for poor people and immigrants in order to save money on the council tax bills of the richest people in the richest borough in the UK. Why would he not point that out?

As for all those “white middle class kids” paying over the odds in Glastonbury: haven’t they got a future too? And Corbyn is mobbed wherever he goes: in Gateshead, in Liverpool, in Birmingham and Manchester, and not just by the white middle classes.

Remember Grime For Corbyn?

People all over the country are rising up against the corruption of nepotism of the old politics, where, for example, Theresa May’s husband runs a company specialising in tax avoidance using loopholes his wife arranges while in government, or Boris Johnson closes down fire stations and then sells off the fire fighting equipment to his mate for £2 the lot.

Most politicians are corrupt, but instead of celebrating the one politician who is not corrupt, we say he has a “Messiah Complex” because people are responding to what he says. Don’t you think that’s a bit petty? What we are watching is a genuine transformation of social relations of the kind that happens every so often in politics, when a corrupt and venal political class go too far, and the people find them out.

We’re lucky to have Corbyn. Can you think of another politician who could go through the campaign of vilification he has suffered over the last two years and not want to give in? I don’t think anyone else, on the left or the right, could have done it. But it’s not about him, it’s about us, and the future we want to see for our children and grandchildren. We had free education, a national health service and a welfare state, why would we not want to bequeath those things to future generations? The magic money tree is real enough. It is the wealth that people generate through their hard work and ingenuity, when they are freed from poverty wages and the stress and anxiety caused by the false philosophy of neo-liberalism and the self-serving rule of the very rich.

Bring on the revolution, that’s what I say.


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10 Responses to Does Corbyn have a Messiah Complex?

    1. Did Jesus have a ‘Messiah Complex’?
      I think he simply said what he believed.

      Comment by Jim Gault on 10 July, 2017 at 9:17 am
    2. That is as comprehensive and eloquent an answer as could have been given to such a superficial and uninformed question. I would only add – for clarity – Blairs net worth last year was £75m and he now owns a diamond mine in Sierra Leone producing what he himself called “conflict diamonds” under his company “London Mining PLC”. That was after spending tax payers money to send UK troops to Liberia and Seirra Leone to capture Samuel Doe and Charles Taylor so they could face war crimes tribunals in the Haigue. Since he has taken over their enterprise, perhaps it’s time he should join them in the Haigue?

      Comment by Malik Al Nasir on 10 July, 2017 at 9:32 am
    3. Thank you Chris Stone, for explaining why Corbyn isn’t the Messiah (and doesn’t think that he is), and why he’s so popular with so many people of all ages.

      Comment by Janet Marks on 10 July, 2017 at 10:11 am
    4. This is an excellent summary of how and why Corbyn came to power and why it is so important that he not only remains leader of the Labour Party but also, at some point, becomes Prime Minister. The extent to which Britain has become overtly corrupt is both astonishing and frightening. We desperately need someone with his integrity to put Britain back on track of becoming a decent, caring society that does not thrive on exploitative arms deals or backhanders between government and the corporocracy. This is the strongest and most influential position the Right had found itself in since the 1930s – it simply cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. I’m not a great believer in ‘ if you’re not for us, you must be against us’ but, in this case, things are different. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. To Corbyn!

      Comment by Chris Collins on 10 July, 2017 at 10:46 am
    5. Excellent summary and spot on – JC4PM

      Comment by Jacqueline Smart on 11 July, 2017 at 8:31 am
    6. The best support article i have read in a long time. Accurate short and to the point.

      Comment by Paul Ross on 10 July, 2017 at 10:47 am
    7. Interesting points raised and some make a lot of sence …
      Youth rebellion is a wonderful thing and should be celebrated.
      Now all those people who attended Glastonbury ( to use one example ) paid approx £200 per ticket to go to an amazing event that is held most years and is now regarded by many as one the best festivals in the world .
      It has become a righ of passage for some , it is very English, it is very white, it is rural , it is in a word it is ‘middle England’ …

      Imagine if all those people donated their admission fee to the Labour Party instead of going to the festival !

      Would that be a possiblity ? = in a word no.

      Couldn’t have seen my daughter giving her hard earned £200 to Corbyn or anyone.

      Corbyn attending Glastonbury instead of supporting our armed forces is fine , his call …

      As a young man he was a sudent radical who came from a very middle class family, Glastonbury
      is the right place for him to be, where he is comfortable and safe.

      As a world leader I have my doubts , yes he would make a very good international ‘union’ rep but world leader nah .
      Those bastards would eat him for breakfast with his old fashioned socialist policies .

      We need somebody with a strength that is unmatched , somebody who is fuctioning outside that box , someone who is not rooted in the past …
      Who that person is …I don’t know but something has to give soon …
      It certainly isn’t May or Corbyn …

      Comment by Simon Haddock on 10 July, 2017 at 11:32 am
    8. So who on earth voted for T. Blair [and kept on voting for him?] The Council are to blame for Grenfell and every other decision they make throughout the country. They always conveniently walk away from any responsibility just as they did at Rochdale, Oxford, Rotheram etc etc etc …. By the way, I am a Colliers son, from a pit village and very proud of both facts. It seems the only ‘working class’ specimens are those that hail from the upper and middle classes, particularly London. Bring on the Revolution eh? It will no doubt be a piously false “Revolution”. A ‘Look at me, Im holier than thou ‘revolution’.. The youth should be sticking two fingers up to ALL politicians and getting on with doing what young folk are supposed to do. Creating something that is all about them and only them.

      Comment by paul rawson on 10 July, 2017 at 12:27 pm
    9. Dear Chris,
      An excellent reply. Can’t think of anything else to say in that respect really. It drives me nuts, these mealy mouthed people who drivel on about “messiah complexes” or “terrorist links” or “anti Semitic” or whatever the latest thing is. Completely forgetting all the points you make so well in your piece, all of which are in the public domain, having happened and been in the media recently. It’s nice to read such sense. Thank you.

      Comment by Christine on 10 July, 2017 at 5:55 pm
    10. I think that as soon as we have the power to nominate a candidate WE have chosen, not one bussed in by a political party, then we will have a fairer system all round. JC is the nearest example of this so far, but we still have a long way to go. Excellent article

      Comment by Christopher East on 13 July, 2017 at 6:39 am

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