It’s no secret to my Facebook friends that Jeremy Corbyn scares me.
When I read a story about Corbyn that worries me – and there have been many – I share it. And then my more left wing friends dismiss my worries out of hand.
Of course I want to rubbish him, they say – I’m a Tory.
It’s the mainstream media that’s out to get him, they add, because he’s against the élites.
He’s been democratically elected by his party activists, they point out, and the people have spoken.
It’s as though Corbyn, far from doing the many things that are a matter of record – failing to properly address antisemitism among his activists, taking money to act as a mouthpiece for Iranian state TV, calling Far Eastern terrorist groups his ‘friends’, chumming up with the IRA as they conducted mainland bombing campaigns – can in fact do no wrong.
According to those who support Corbyn, he is being ‘smeared’. He is being ‘misrepresented’. He is being ‘brought down’ by some mythical entity called the ‘anti-Corbyn movement’ which seems to be some cabal of Tories, Blairites and the mainstream media.
I shouldn’t be worried, these supporters say. Corbyn just wants, against the odds, to create a more just and fair society.
Well I am fucking worried. And the more people who are worried about him the happier I will be.
It’s not because I’m worried he will win the 2020 election. I’m not. The Tory party – my party – will win many more seats if Corbyn is still in place.
And I disagree that the mainstream media are out to get him. There are negative pieces from people on almost every part of the political spectrum – from Tories to Marxists. There’s no smoke without fire, and the fact is that much if not most of what is written about Corbyn is true. If it wasn’t, why hasn’t Corbyn put his detractors in court?
What Corbyn has done is to create a populist movement, not so very far divorced from right-wing populist movements past and present, in which the leaders’ word is law. Why else has he threatened his MPs with a purge of deselection? Why else would he sack Hilary Benn for minor dissent? This from a man who spent most of his career to date dissenting against his own party.
Corbyn is not there because he will fulfill your hopes of a fairer society. He is there because he is offering simple – often empty – answers to complex problems in our society. People idolise him like a religious visionary, because they feel they have a personal relationship with him – and that he will make their dreams come true.
He won’t. He can’t.
But what he can do is set neighbour upon neighbour, friend upon friend. And it is starting now. Look around you.
He readmits antisemites into his party. He fails to rein in Momentum activists who commit acts of violence in his name. And he refuses to stand down because he knows that, if he is not reelected, his growing army of supporters will take to the streets and cause major civil unrest in his name.
In his name. Not in the name of his principles, but instead the dreams his many individual followers pin on him.
“Oh,” some will say. “But I’ve never encountered an antisemite in the Labour party. And I would never condone violence.”
And do you know what, friends? I believe you. But I am terrified that your noble dreams – the ones that Corbyn could never realise – will unleash such poison and hatred in our society that we may not recover for decades.
Already I fear we may be too late.