Brendan O’Neill

Jeremy Corbyn’s unlikely fans show he is no revolutionary

Jeremy Corbyn's unlikely fans show he is no revolutionary
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So now we know: Jeremy Corbyn is a counterrevolutionary. The man who fancies himself as the secret Red of British politics, surrounding himself with trustafarian Trotskyists and the kind of public-school radical who gets a hammer-and-sickle tattoo just to irritate his parents, is now being talked up as a potential saviour of the establishment from Brexit. From Guardian scribes to actual EU commissioners, the great and good want Corbyn to save their hides from that raucous revolt of last June. You couldn’t make it up: Jez the tamer of the agitating masses.

No sooner had those exit polls revealed that May was struggling and Corbyn was rising than the EU-pining lobby was saying: ‘Jez we can stop Brexit!’ Polly Toynbee, the grand dame of Brexitphobia, says thanks to Corbyn’s check on May’s ‘miserabilism’, the ‘fanatical Brexiteers have been stopped in their tracks’. A fanatical Brexiteer is basically anyone who thinks Brexit should happen. Jack Straw thinks Corbyn’s ascendancy will embolden MPs to argue for a ‘much softer Brexit’. That is, those pleb-fearing MPs who’ve long considered Brexit an ‘absolute disaster for this country’ (that’s you, David Lammy) will now use their clout to dilute the cry we made last June. Thanks Jeremy.

‘This is the end of hard Brexit’, declares the Independent. If you’re not familiar with the lingo, ‘Hard Brexit’ means ‘Brexit’. ‘It’s the end of Brexit’ is what these people really mean. The Indie says Corbyn embodies a more ‘conciliatory approach’ to the EU than May. What kind of Das Kapital-reading Seventies throwback is conciliatory to an institution as neoliberal and anti-democratic as the EU? Pah. Some radical. The always fantastically haughty New Yorker, so freaked out by our ballot-box revolt last June, has also congratulated Corbyn this morning for his pursuit of a ‘softer Brexit’. It hopes his gains will weaken the Brexit project.

Even EU bigwigs, the chiefs of this opposite-of-radical oligarchy, are praising Corbyn. The Financial Times says EU officials are optimistic that May’s difficulties and Corbyn’s confidence will ‘increase the chances of a softer Brexit’. The EU commissioner for economic affairs says the success of someone like Corbyn, with his emphasis on a ‘softer Brexit’, means Britain is now ‘in a less simple situation’ regarding the Brexit talks. Strip away the EU-phemisms and this translates as: ‘Corbyn could help us water down that pesky people’s revolt once and for all.’

It has always cracked me up that Momentum types go on about why politics should be ‘for the many, not the few’ while simultaneously sneering at Brexit, which is literally the politics of the many over the few, of the demos and its right to determine Britain’s political affairs over the cliquey technocrats of Brussels. ‘Vote for change! Vote against the elites that look down on you!’, Corbynistas cry. We did. Last June. And you called us fascists. Now things have gone a step further: Corbynistas aren’t only failing to recognise the radical nature of the Brexit rebellion — they’re being called upon by oligarchs and metropolitan moaners to stymie it.

Corbyn isn’t anti-establishment; he might well prove to be a check on anti-establishment sentiment, ‘softening’ our revolting cry. From Britain’s only proper leftie MP to the running dog of the EU establishment — what a sad trajectory!