If Corbyn’s supporters keep up this hero worship, they’ll ruin everything for him

The trouble that a Corbyn Government might very well face is that he has made an awful lot of promises to an awful lot of people

Click to follow
The Independent Online

“Oh Jeremy Corbyn! Oh Jeremy Corbyn!” 

That was sung loudly, raucously, and with gusto to the tune of the White Stripes song “Seven Nation Army” as an exhilarated crowd left what the NME said might have been the best gig of 2017.

Admittedly the headliners – rap rock super group The Prophets of Rage – are an overtly political act with a slew of (superb) overtly political songs. But still, it took me aback. 

In 30 years of gig going (I started as a teenager) I’ve never heard anything like that in support of an elected politician. You’re far more likely to hear boos and ribald abuse when their names are mentioned. That’s part of the fun. 

It all leads me to ask this: is all this Corbyn-mania starting getting a bit much? Is the hero worship going a little too far?

However nice they may seem, however charming they may be, however much you may like their programme, and however sure their touch, a politician with a God complex is still a dangerous thing. History teaches us that. 

Let me state for the record: I’m a moderate (but not a Blairite) and I started off as a Jeremy Corbyn sceptic.

I voted Labour on 8 June, but at least part of the reason was because my local MP (Wes Streeting) is extremely good and was in a marginal going into the election (he now has a majority of more than 10,000). 

I also continue to advocate progressive parties working more closely together, and I would vote for the party most likely to defeat the Conservatives were I in a different seat. 

That is in no small part because I can’t actually remember a time when I disliked like the Tories more – and I lived through Thatcherism. 

The current lot are a thoroughly nasty bunch, and were so before the Grenfell Fire showed them up. By the way, don’t even get me started on Boris Johnson. 

So I know which side my bread is buttered, and I know who the real enemy is. As such, I was both surprised and delighted when Corbyn gave the Conservatives the bloody nose that they richly deserved. I hope he does so again – in what, three months? Six? – when their minority Government falls apart. 

But my contempt for the current incarnation of the Conservative Party comes from the same place as my concerns about the Corbyn hero worship. I really don’t want to see them ushered back in after a single term in opposition.

Jeremy Corbyn: There'll be another election and Labour will be back in bigger numbers

Given where the Conservative Party is right now, it getting back into power after a short Labour interlude is not a pleasant prospect, for reasons that go beyond the fact that I have disabilities and need the NHS. 

The trouble that a Corbyn Government might very well face is that he has made an awful lot of promises to an awful lot of people. Public sector and private sector workers. Unions and small businesses. Young and old. Poor and actually quite rich when it comes to preserving winter fuel payments for pensioners with comfy incomes. Personally, I’d rather that money went towards helping the growing number of people who have to resort to food banks, but that's just me. 

Politics is the art of the possible, and however much we’d like it to happen, Corbyn won’t be able to get Britain storming the gates of heaven overnight, particularly given the economic situation that confronts it as it prepares for the historic mistake of crashing out of the EU.

He will almost certainly struggle to deliver on some of those promises. That's not a particularly knock on him. Most politicians struggle to deliver on all their promises even when they present relatively modest programmes. Jeremy Corbyn’s is not that. 

As a result of that, he may quickly start to look like what he is: another politician. A well intentioned one, maybe, but a politician all the same. It would be a tragedy if the injection of youthful enthusiasm he has overseen were to be dashed on that rock. 

I’m not saying that his experiment isn’t worth trying. I’m not saying that there isn’t an appetite for something new; a departure from the neo-liberal economic consensus that has served to concentrate wealth at the top while everyone else struggles, particularly since the financial crisis.

Bu just as Corbyn would do well to lower people’s expectations just a bit, so should his supporters lower them for him. 

If both of them need an example of the dangers of what can happen when they are over inflated, just look at Theresa May. 

Let’s not forget she won the election in terms of seats, and is still the occupant of No 10. But she has been declared the loser because her supporters, and her party, had expected so much more and she did nothing to suggest that they shouldn't do so. 

By contrast, Corbyn lost. He won, however, by exceeding expectations that were low when the campaign started out. 

They won't be so low next time around. 

He and his supporters need to bear that in mind, because while they might not believe it, I’d like to see him succeed and treating him like the headline act for the best gig of the year won’t help him to do that.