Thoughtful writing about the Corbyn phenomenon is not just impossible to find, it is impossible to imagine. Admirers live in a land of make believe as closed to the rest of the world as North Korea. They barely know how to explain themselves to outsiders because they cannot imagine any honourable reason for outsiders disagreeing with them. Disputes with ‘Jeremy’ must be the result of ideological contamination – you have become or, perhaps secretly always have been, a ‘Tory’ or ‘Blairite’ – financial corruption – you have sold out – or racial corruption – you are a ‘Zionist’.
My colleague Janice Turner of the Times posted a copy of a leaflet Corbyn supporters are handing out in constituency meetings. They have an answer to every charge against him. The trouble is you can only believe the answers if you live in a hermetically sealed container which no argument or doubt can penetrate.
Outside the container, Corbyn has demonstrably lost the confidence of his MPs on a scale and with a finality no party leader, who has tried to cling to office, has matched before. Inside, his supporters reassure themselves, ‘almost three-times as many Labour MPs voted confidence in him last month as voted for him last September’.
Outside, everyone can see Labour reduced to a rump party of 150, maybe fewer MPs unless Corbyn goes soon. He had the worst English local election results of any opposition leader for decades. He came third in Scotland behind the Conservatives, a prospect that even two years ago would have been unimaginable. Where it has won, Corbyn’s Labour has not won with Corbynist candidates. Like First World War generals, the far left send others to do its fighting for them. Hence, Sadiq Khan won in London, but did it by explicitly renouncing Corbyn. The right wing Labour MP Jim McMahon won the Oldham West and Royton by-election.
Inside, Scotland is forgotten, the local election results and opinion polls are ignored or manipulated, and the few victories fought and won by moderate Labour politicians in London, Oldham and elsewhere, are claimed