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Corbynistas are not the new Nasty Party

rudeWhere I work, telling a middle manager to ‘fuck off’ would result in a summons from human resources pretty sharpish, with the full expectation of a resultant first written warning. And if the target of the Anglo-Saxon expletive happened to be black, the question of whether the incident had been racially motivated would at least have to be considered.

Yet somehow, when Labour MP Jess Phillips addressed Diane Abbott in precisely those terms, she escaped any sanction whatsoever, and nobody was asked to draw generalised conclusions about the political outlook of her wing bit of the party.

In fairness to Ms Phillips, she subsequently apologised, and perhaps the matter is best left there. But those Labour rightwingers and supportive hacks that repeatedly accuse Jeremy Corbyn of surfing some sort of sordid tsunami of invective should at least pause for reflection here.

Is it really true that Labour lefties – traditionally the brainier element of the Labour Party, the ‘middle-class intellectuals’ that actually read books – are these days more likely to brand an opponent ‘Tory light’ then simply hurl a damning quote from Marx?

Or to perhaps phrase the question more fairly, is there actually any proof that we are any more prone to scatological abuse and/or four-letter cusses than the Labour right?

That is rapidly becoming the received wisdom. Contrived comparisons between supporters of the Labour leadership and the supernatural troglodyte beings that feature prominently in Scandinavian folklore are by now almost a cliché.

Chuka Umunna hits out at Corbynistas for their supposed ‘nasty troll form of politics’. John Woodcock brands Diane Abbott (yes, interestingly enough, Diane again) as ‘an internet troll’. Ben Bradshaw and Lord Cashman also joined the chorus against the alleged social media outrages of the pro-Corbyn left.

Such claims are usually backed up by ample examples of offensive Tweets said to emanate from Corbyn advocates.

Not of all them will be genuine, of course. A small number of them seem rather obviously fabricated; that others will be the work of people seeking to discredit the Labour left is also not excluded.

Others still will be problematic in other ways. One Tweet I saw reproduced on a national newspaper website was the written by someone I know by reputation.

I am aware that he has recently been sectioned under the Mental Health Act. Yes, it is true that many of his Tweets conform to the crude ‘you’re a red Tory’ templates of which the right complains. But the guy has serious mental issues.

And let’s be frank, exchanges of insults during the Labour leadership campaign were hardly one way. One Oxford educated corporate lawyer – a Cooper backer, I believe – described me as ‘worse than a fascist’ for supporting a leftwing social democrat. And there was me thinking that only Stalinists were given to Third Periodism.

Backers of the failed candidates were certainly not above a spot of dirty pool, either. These ranged from the digs at Liz Kendall for not being a mother to crude attempts to implicate Corbyn in a municipal child abuse scandal from three decades, with which he patently had nothing to do.

Of course, the majority of the purported Corbyn hate Tweets will be genuine, and many of them utterly reprehensible. Corbyn himself has condemned them. Yet even leaving things there does not tell the full story.

Such was the size of Corbyn’s support base that even if 99% adhered strictly to the gentlemanly traditional rules of debate that obtain at the Oxford Union, that would leave several thousand to which the frothing at the mouth caricatures do apply. Such is the nature of any bell curve distribution.

A few thousand fools can of course make a lot of noise on social media. But it is not legitimate to generalise from that tiny minority to the Labour left as a whole. If Corbyn headbangers outnumber Kendall headbangers 13 to one, that is because Corbyn voters outnumber Kendall voters 13 to one.

What of the other incidents routinely deployed as illustrative of Corbynista beastliness? The unquestioned assumption is made that only pro-Corbyn sputum could possibly have landed on delegates to the Conservative conference in Manchester. In fact, the identity of the perpetrators remains unknown.

There are also claims that Corbyn supporters have made threats of violence or rape against women. These are criminal offences and I would happily vote for the expulsion for anyone guilty of such shocking behaviour. But I am aware of no police or Labour Party investigation that has upheld such allegations.

In sum, let us admit that social media has irretrievably coarsened political discussion in this country. That is a problem, but not a problem unique to any one school of political belief. Any attempt to make factional capital out of it should be rejected.

Image copyright: Stuart Miles image ID : 26416331


  1. Jeffery Davies says:

    Yet the blair babies cause more damage to this party they cant see or hear that the peasants want their labour party back not greedie mps who are not looking after their electorate yes they should cross that floor jeff3

  2. Grzeg says:

    The definition of a “troll” now just seems to mean “anyone who has the temerity to disagree with me.” And thanks to the internet disagreeing with what you said, what you wrote, what you think, has never been easier.

    To single out Corbyn supporters seems strange as I’m sure they’re are just as forthright with their political views as anyone else. Perhaps, like, the SNP “cybernats”, they tend to be younger and therefore more likely to be on Twitter, but as anyone who reads BTL comments (hello) will know, UKIP supporters and other right-wingers certainly know how to dish out the opprobrium.

    We should be celebrating this democratisation. Politicians and newspaper columnists still seem to think that their views should be protected from public scorn. It’s partly comes from an old fashioned sense of entitlement, and partly because the old rules about who wins elections seem to have be flushed down the toilet. They fear for their careers, so I can sympathize with the very public Twitter meltdowns we’ve seen from prominent journalists. But they need to learn the new rules and the new world, not whine about trolls.

  3. John P Reid says:

    If diane abbot had been a middle manager with all the libelous, hatred she’s speaker out over the years she’d have been sacked decades ago.

  4. My left foot says:

    ‘Interesting times’ the Blairite buzzword to drag Corbyn down, rear their ugly heads all over social media and the Tory press. It’s clear they can’t accept Corbyn as a leader and seek to distablise him via their contacts in the Establishment.
    The very fact fabricated claims of rape et al proves the inner core are turning a blind eye in the hope this pressure group continue to chip away. It’s about time some of this group are brought to account.

  5. Bosian says:

    “Where I work, telling a middle manager to ‘fuck off’ would result in a summons from human resources pretty sharpish,..”

    ‘middle manager’? What sort of idiot business speak is this?

    MPs are their constituents’ elected representatives. But you think think they should behave like wage-slaves in a bureacracy?

    And you want us to vote for them?

    1. Jon Lansman says:

      It’s not “idiot business speak” – it’s an attempt to relate what politicians do with what ordinary people expect in their places of work where, very often, there are middle managers.

      1. Bosian says:

        However, Ms Phillips is not an employee of the Labour Party. Corbyn is not her boss. Abbot is not her line-manager.

        Ms Phillips’ responsibility is to the electors in her constituency and to her conscience. If she needs a guide to how to behave, she has the example of Jeremy Corbyn before her. Do you think he ever regarded himself as, or behaved as, Tony Blair’s employee?

  6. Paul Canning says:

    Where was the left when Diane was getting the most vile racist abuse over her affair with Jez? Nowhere.

    I was there watching it unfold and there was absolute silence over it from the left. Go back and look it up.

    Hence why I wrote this

    Osler hasn’t so much got a chip on his shoulder as a boulder.

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