The rod and the solution

From Jeremy and Corbyn, Chapter Six – order now on Kindle

Both Jeremy and Corbyn were shocked by the booing the other candidates had received upon refusing to criticise the benefit cuts. Corbyn disagreed with them, of course, but he could not condone such treatment. After all, they were only stating what they absolutely believed in.

Even their insane support for weapons of mass destruction, Britain’s ‘Trident’ nuclear submarine system, did not warrant the hisses and calls of ‘Shame!’ according to Corbyn. There was no need for unkindness in politics, and all the unnecessary fall-out that accompanied such behaviour.

Returning by train from Stevenage, Corbyn revealed to Jeremy his anxiety that the media would use the behaviour of his supporters against the campaign. Jeremy offered no sympathy. In fact, he had found the whole affair most refreshing.

‘It’s not as if you planted them there, old boy. It was the honest reaction of the audience.’

‘It was unhelpful. If our supporters behave like that, how can we reach out to Andy and Yvette – even Liz – and hope to change their narrative?’

‘So you’ll support their right to say whatever they want, but you won’t do the same for your supporters?’

Jeremy recalled with glee the look on their faces when the booing had begun. Tactfully, he omitted to mention the same look he had seen written across on his friend’s face.

‘Every time something like that happens,’ said Corbyn, ‘it just pushes them away from us. If we want to get through to them, we need to demonstrate a new politics, a kinder politics. Perhaps in that way we can help make them understand that the left isn’t so bad; that it isn’t so childish and unreasonable as some… on the left, would lead them to believe.’

Jeremy laughed about it all the way back to London, mistaking Corbyn’s earnest misgivings for irony. But Corbyn only sulked.

Toward the journey’s end, Jeremy straightened up and told his friend that he mustn’t be so sensitive. With genuine concern, Jeremy said he would be mad to go through the next three months worrying about what the media thought:

‘We’ve thirty years of transgression on our permanent record,’ he said. ‘They’re hardly going to make us head boy!

‘You say we need a new, kinder politics, and that we need to shift the “moral narrative”, all that nonsense you pick up off Diane, no doubt.’ Corbyn wrinkled his nose.

Well, that’s the first time I’ve been to a Labour hustings and heard booing… no, I’m serious this time. Those people who booed today did so because of you – it’s not a bad thing!

‘Forget the new, kinder politics. That was a new kind of politics. It was angry, frustrated, demanding real answers. You were the reference point. You were like the rod around which the solution crystallised.’

Corbyn did not answer. He was not sure he wanted to be a rod. Neither was he sure he that he wanted a solution crystallising around him.

In any case, they were agreed on one point: the nuclear question. Corbyn admitted that the other candidates were quite insane, and Jeremy conceded that, nonetheless, it was still a point of view.

From Jeremy and Corbyn, Chapter Six – order now on Kindle

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