Rosa Prince, the online political editor of the Telegraph was an interesting selection for the biography of Jeremy Corbyn And when I refer to “interesting”, of course I’m referring to “perverse”. It’s similar to the idea of asking Owen Jones to write a biography of David Cameron: no one doubts his enthusiasm however, there will be a incorrect circle, the wrong age, the wrong hinterland, no friends of of aunts of friends, and, most important Cameron’s colleagues are extremely suspicious of Jones in the same way that Corbyn’s supporters are of Prince. This would avoid the risk of a hagiography but at the expense of any close-quartered insight. The reminiscences are derived from pieces that have been published, most notably within the Daily Mail. Prince is ruminating on the incident that occurred when Diane Abbott, then Corbyn’s girlfriend, was observed by his friends while he was asleep and wrapped in a blanket. This isn’t a brand new report, even though it appears to be a brand new story and its sexy inclusion is based by one of the Laura Kuenssberg defence (“I’m a journalist and I learned something”).
It’s disappointing because the problem with socialism, the way it says, is that it is a long time of evenings. And nobody has spent more time in the evenings than Corbyn. There are a lot of people including former flatmates, members of the board of directors of the Jackson’s Lane Community Centre, friends at Tony Benn’s parties and others who not only recall him in a personal way and fondly, but also have humorous stories. Gatherings of gritty Greens and other progressives following Corbyn’s election as the leader, felt like an enjoyable wake after a successful game (“Do you remember when he suggested you drive the terrorist into Dungeness?” “That wasn’t an act of terror! It was a vegetarian”).
As a testament, I think to the trust the politician is expected to show, almost none of the voices – with the exception of Tariq Ali, who is in the most behaving and head-down tones are heard. Instead, there are those who have known Corbyn at a distance, long before they began their own journeys toward the extreme right. Leo McKinstry, a thunderer on the Daily Express, the wonderful Telegraph doctor-columnist James le Fanu, who was not a part of the left-wing socialists. From these distant associates, Prince elicits reminiscences of shocking blandness, like the following quote from Le Fanu “‘[His apartmentwas] an absolute point,’ he says. ‘Not stylish. There was quite a bit of people coming and going.'”
The book is not as bad for speed, but possibly more damaging for credibility of the writer, the author displays an utter disinterest in the theories from the Left. The author takes us on Corbyn’s trip through Jamaica through Latin America to north London without mentioning or not noticing the most significant leftwing icons including postcolonialism, the genesis of buen vivir, or the Kilburn manifesto, and so on – instead limiting her attention to the most broad notion of what is leftwing: “What Corbyn saw of the plight of the poor that existed in Jamaica in particular and Latin America seems to have created a lasting impression. He returned with a radical outlook and for the remainder of his life, he would remain in the extreme right of British policy.” This is clear that the author is trying to understand what led Corbyn’s socialism , in the first place. If you believe that the concept of left is that it removes things from those who have a lot and distributes it to those who have little or nothing, then you’ll certainly be confused that anyone who has more than zero could support the idea. “Wikipedia has informed I that Newport was an Britain within Bloom finalist. It seemed like a bizarre location for a revolutionary of a nation in his early years.” Everybody in the middle class is the distinction of being a “highly likely socialist”. Corbyn’s father’s desire to study Russian is “an unlikely interest, given that this was the height of the cold war”.
This opposition to left-wing political views is evident by a determined refusal to differentiate between two causes such as apartheid and Yarl’s Wood, former Guantanamo detainee Shaker Aamer Syria as well as arms deals and privatisation. In one instance, Prince refers to Corbyn’s opposition to the CSA but does not specify what that opposition is (to fathers being chased by police for money? Mothers not receiving cash fast enough?) These differences could be important – but fortunately you can look up Hansard. It’s a sign of it being a single mysterious lefty humus. There is no discussion of the notion that a few people, possibly very few of us, think that the politician who established Yarl’s Wood to hold homeless people with no any other option could have been more insane than the one who marched to the streets in protest.
Acceptance of her “centrist” Labour account still shows an outsider’s inability to maintain critical distance. It’s been fashionable to frame the 1990s and the 00s as a time in which “some of us spent decades fighting the hard left” (in the words by Paul Richards, a former special advisor for Hazel Blears); while Blair was performing the heavy lifting of convincing ordinary people, the warm bodies were carrying out the laborious task of removing Trots as headlice. This isn’t the way I recall it, I’m afraid it was more of it was a slow process, similar to the cooling process of the bath, where there were those who resisted Blair’s decision to repeal Clause Four, which ended the party’s commitment to mass-nationalisation Some left over unilateral disarmament as well as some who were upset with Blair himself, and many others in the aftermath of the Iraq war. A large number of people resigned and attended pubs following the meetings, or did not technically quit, but stopped attending. The CLP became bald, in essence and that’s how they got rid of head lice. Then, as the growth regenerated then the lice started to come back. Of course, I could be incorrect. I’m only talking about one group and the rest could have been caught in a fight of bare-knuckle between radicals and realists. A little more variety and a little less credulity could help.