“Oh Jeremy Corbyn”: the left must resist *all* personality cults

October 7, 2017 at 12:25 pm (celebrity, cults, labour party, populism, posted by JD, reformism, stalinism)

The unity, enthusiasm and upbeat self-confidence on display at the Labour conference was in most respects, excellent, and in stark contrast not just to last year’s event, but also the wretched Tory debacle that followed.

But one aspect of the conference was less attractive; one delegate’s contemporaneous comments appear the present issue of Solidarity:

A pernicious and probably controversial issue is the unstoppable adulation and hero worship of Jeremy Corbyn.

Not all of the adulation is the fault of the enthusiastic delegates in the room. The Labour machine now appears to be cashing in on Corbynmania with a range of Corbyn-themed items.

It is very impressive that a whole crowd at the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury are so enthused that they chant his name, but do we really need a seven minute delay in his conference speech to chant, or the chanting of his name when other shadow ministers speak? Or delegates taking valuable time to ask pointless self congratulatory questions about the importance of Corbyn?

All of this must stop!


  1. Dave said,

    Bit late. It won’t stop.

  2. Glasgow Working Class said,

    The voter will decide. The adulation was like a Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini and Kim Jung Eck gathering. Very disturbing and dangerous watching the adulation. Never thought my party would be taken over and descend to what is inevitable defeat.

  3. John Cunningham said,

    I remember, when I was a miner, a personality cult emerging around Arthur Scargill. It was always my impression that Scargill loved it. The problem with this sort of thing (and not the only problem) is that it works against constructive critical thinking. The leader speaks and, hay presto, everything is OK. In the run-up to the 1984-5 miners’ strike Scargill talked about how when the necessity arose he would activate the ‘Triple-Alliance’ (Steelworkers-Railway workers-miners). The only problem was that the Triple-Alliance didn’t exist, it was figment of Scargill’s imagination. Yet, he said it exists…and therefore it must exist. This is what personality cultism can lead to, something much more serious that just chanting a name or buying mugs with a face on it. Ultimately it cripples you. In 1983 myself, my old friend and comrade Rob Dawber (who so sadly died in early 2000) a railway worker, tried to organise a meeting around building a real Triple Alliance but no-one turned up – I think (I don’t know for sure) it was ‘nobbled’ by Barnsley. Personality cults can just be stupid exercises in idolatory, buying T-shirts etc. but they can, in certain circumstances, be disastrous for any political movement.

    John Cunningham

    • Jim Denham said,

      Thanks for those most valuable observations, John.

    • rotzeichen said,

      Thank you John, this has prompted me to point how your observations lack the backdrop to what is not so much a personality cult but recognition of the vilification piled onto both these people, from a vicious
      lying media and MPs that sought to undermine them.

      Whether this is your intent, of course must be left up to your own conscience, but this document written by Nicholas Ridley in 1977 corroborates why people like Jeremy Corbyn and Arthur Scargill deserve the adulation the receive, and why your comment is so out of place.

      Nicholas Ridley’s 1977 research papers:

      Click to access FABEA1F4BFA64CB398DFA20D8B8B6C98.pdf

      • Glasgow Working Class said,

        A. Para 5. Ridley got that right. I worked in the private and public sector. The public sector front line staff are being cut in favour of the rubber desk johnnies. One case in particular is the senior officer and trade union rep respectively. Climbing the ladder on both fronts. The workers feart tae open their mouths… Jobs temporarily deliberately created with obscene salaries and the person walks away with five figure sum. Corruption is endemic in the public sector. The two cases above I mention are real.
        Now before you go on and on with a leftie rant do switch on and open yer eyes.

      • rotzeichen said,

        I think you just make it all up as you go along.

      • rotzeichen said,

        GWC…….. I would add that had you read the document properly, forgetting the nonsense presented as research, that it details how the Tories would fragment the nationalised industries, in order to break them up to be privatised. They would deliberately undermine the Unions, and use the army and police to break strikes, all of which was planned long before Arthur Scargill even got wind of the pit closure plan. THEN BLAMED THE UNIONS FOR FOR THE CRISIS DELIBERATELY CREATED BY THEM, and people like you are only too keen propagate TORY lies.

      • Jim Denham said,

        I mean, John’s only an ex-miner who actively supported the 1984-5 strike: what would he know, eh rotzeichen?

  4. Glasgow Working Class said,

    rotzeichen. If you are unable to digest reality in the public service then at least you should investigate and talk to workers in that service. However I suspect you are a brainwashed leftie with very little knowledge of working people.

  5. Glasgow Working Class said,

    Scargill was a Marxist and his mission was to bring down the government any democratic government. The workers were just his pawns.
    Most of the pits would have closed eventually under EU legislation on fossil fuels.

    • Jim Denham said,

      Scargill was a good union leader, but politically a useless Stalinist: you may note how his recent statements in favour of an ultra-hard Brexit have elicited the support of letter-writers to the Daily Telegraph!

      • Glasgow Working Class said,

        It is likely to be a hard brexit when you consider the personal insults towards Davis. The EU will not tolerate any dissent. They would screw the British like they did with the Greeks if possible. Fair trade and cooperation does not require an EU Parliament with all its flunkies and hangers on.

    • rotzeichen said,

      The simple facts here, is that the commentators who talk in terms of personality cults don’t even understand that Jeremy Corbyn is not a cult figure, that people in the party that support him, support him because they trust him, precisely why some commentators here want to attack him.

      JIm your agenda is is transparently clear, it’s what Jeremy stands for that you hate, and no he is not anti Semite, you freely band such accusations about in order to discredit people, a truly nasty agenda that will harm the Jewish cause rather than protect it.

      GWC you clearly did not read Ridleys document and like Jim are working to an agenda not based on facts but perpetrating propaganda.

      Just to show what you seem to ignore, is that the Tory agenda was to denationalise the state and put it back into the hands of the private sector, and they planned this out in detail, before the Unions even got wind of it.

      Quote, in their own words:

      Part II Denationalisation.

      12. Denationalisation should not be attempted by a frontal attack, but a policy of preparation for the return to the private sector by stealth.

      Confidential Annex, outlines how they would go about it and in the conclusion they state this:

      These five policies (5 policies in the conclusion) seem all that is available and if integrated and used wisely they provide a pretty strong defence – particularly when there is no incomes policy against which to strike. They should enable us to hold the fort until the long term strategy of fragmentation can begin to work.

      So in truth the commentators on this site that attack people like Arthur Scargill and Jeremy Corbyn are acting in unison with establishment forces that work against peoples interests, that is their agenda.

      The nationalised industries were an asset to the state that paid people real wages, created better working conditions and maintained low prices that acted as a subsidy to the private sector as well as the public at large.

      Today the private sector regard people as a milch cow to be milked to the last drop, and incidentally, that means you.

      • Sholem Aleichem said,

        You’re right, it’s all just a right wing Zionist Neocon conspiracy to discredit the Messiah. Wake up Sheeple!

        Er, by the way, which “Jewish Cause” is it that your Messiah is trying to aid, and which you accuse people like the well-known right wing agitator and capitalist Tory Jim Denham of trying to harm? I’d love to know.

  6. Stephen Bellamy said,

    • Saul Sorrell-Till said,

      That was a mental post on a truly unhinged blog. All rather pleasing, as I now have another go-to link whenever people ask for an example of a genuine left-wing anti-Semite. Thanks!

  7. Political Tourist said,

    Glesga Bigot, whatever happened to Ukip?

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      They happened to help us get us out of the fascist EU. And Farage did a good job in exposing the EU wasters.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till said,

        So much ‘fascism’ everywhere these days. It’s almost as though people such as yourselves have drained the word of most of its meaning. Meanwhile you defend Farage, who has many widespread associations with actual, blood-and-soil fascists across Europe. The cognitive dissonance must be dizzying.

  8. Glasgow Working Class said,

    Saul Sorrell Till. My point was about Farage exposing the EU for what it is.
    If Farage is a fascist and you have evidence then produce it. My reasoning is we do not need an EU Parliament or a Commission but just a good old fair trade deal between nations.

  9. John Cunningham said,

    A few points.

    1. There was a personality cult within the NUM around Scargill, maybe you needed to be inside to see it but, believe me it was there. To set the record straight, at least as far I’m concerned, Scargill led a damn good fight in 84-5. Of course anyone could have a criticism here or there (I’ve already mentioned one – the myth built up around the ‘Triple Alliance’) but overall he was a model strike leader. What happened after doesn’t even warrant thinking about – his Stalinism rose to its full height and his creation the SLP died a, deserved, miserable death. The last time I saw Arthur Scargill was in Barnsley about 3 years ago at a Strike memorial meeting at the NUM HQ. He looked a sad and rather pathetic figure. Few people spoke to him and as far as I could see he didn’t even come inside the hall for the meeting.

    2. Scargill loved the media exposure he received. In effect the NUM didn’t have a press officer during the strike. AS took all journalists questions and did all interviews. Officially the NUM’s Press Officer was Nell Myers, who was a) useless b) hated the press (not a very good qualification for a PO). AS was a very adept performer in media interviews but his continual exposure only reinforced the impression that the NUM was a one-man show.

    3. No-one, least of all me, is denying the role that Jeremy Corbyn has played in the last few years in galvanising the left. Credit where it is due (in buckets) I was part of the wave of people who rejoined the LP when he first won the leadership contest. I hadn’t been a member for something like 20 years. But I don’t want to be a part of a movement where inane name-chanting, T-shirts and fandom take over from critical thinking and discussion. There is a danger of that happening – how big the danger is I don’t know – better to be on guard now than full of regrets later.

    John Cunningham

    • rotzeichen said,

      John, the reason behind the support Jeremy Corbyn is and will receive into the future is because of the deliberate smears and lies perpetrated against him. Those are facts and whether you feel it is overly Lauding to wear T shirts in support, then that of course is your problem. Not to understand the forces waged against him and the essential character assassination techniques employed, not only to destroy him but the movement as a whole is the crux I feel of your problem.

      People in the Labour Party are not followers like the sheep in other parties I could mention, and any long standing member of the party should be aware of the fact that Jeremy reluctantly accepted his current role, because like most of us without personal ambition, recognise that at this moment in time we have a massive task of educating the people of this country as to what is actually happening….. we also recognise the unprecedented personal abuse inflicted on Jeremy Corbyn by deceitful members within the party as well as those outside.

      No one politician has withstood that kind of pressure before and to a lesser degree Tony Benn who magnificently withstood the media attacks on him, so if you think he doesn’t deserve the kind of adulation that people bestow on him, then perhaps you should put yourself in his shoes and ask yourself how you would bear up to the kind of onslaught he has had to contend with.

      Personally I don’t care whether Arthur Scargill lapped up his adulation or not, he was absolutely right about the need to resist the pit closure plan, and that the document I provided you with spelled out in their own words how the Tories would not only dismantle the Pits but the whole nationalised industries as well, leaving Neil Kinnock as complicit with that into the bargain, whether knowingly or ignorant at the time.

      It also seems to me, a little perverse to denigrate people who withstand unheard of pressures by politicians that have used the state apparatus to thwart them with, whilst not even mentioning the clear intent of a government who’s treacherous acts work against the interests of our people as a whole. They refer to you as the enemy, and I mean you, and it just appears to go over your head, but, you are oh so concerned that Jeremy Corbyn might get the kind of adulation that Theresa May has paid a fortune to foster for herself without success.

  10. John Cunningham said,

    This is getting a bit tedious. The document you so kindly “provided me with” was something I read years ago and is a hardly a state secret. You don’t seem to have read what I said very attentively, please read again my point number one where I praise Corbyn. I did not at any point denigrate him – I actually quite like the bloke. I am, believe it or not, aware that I (and you) are referred to “the enemy”. A certain lady once referred to me (and approx 220,000 other members of the NUM) as “the enemy within” something I have always worn as a badge of pride. I’m 68 years old now and getting a bit tired of being told how to suck eggs.

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      It was well known that Ridley was the brain behind the Tory economic industrial recovery plan and the unions knew this.. It made sense to defeat the miners whose leadership were intent in bringing down the Tories. The Tories won that well prepared battle. No point in moaning just move on.
      Corbyn if he wins the next election will not re-nationalise any industry.
      We will have to wait and see.

    • rotzeichen said,

      “This Stalinism rose to its full height and his creation the SLP died a, deserved, miserable death. The last time I saw Arthur Scargill was in Barnsley about 3 years ago at a Strike memorial meeting at the NUM HQ. He looked a sad and rather pathetic figure. Few people spoke to him and as far as I could see he didn’t even come inside the hall for the meeting”.

      This reference to “Stalinism” does appear to be a recurring theme on this site, I of course made no reference to secrecy about the document you say you are familiar with, of course it has been in the public domain, but it’s a pity when people remind you of the real enemy to working people, instead of finding common ground you persist in attacking people that do not relate to Jeremy in the fashion you presume. Which of course is another form of denigration.

      You also appear to be easily offended, another indication perhaps you are not as onside as you purport. But then I could always be wrong??

      • Jim Denham said,

        “But then I could always be wrong??”: I think you’ll find you are, rotzeichen, especially when you’re dealing with people whose first-hand experience of the class struggle is far greater than yours, and whose understanding of socialist theory is far deeper than yours.

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