The inside story of the movement behind the man—and why, whoever wins the electoral battle, the Left is winning the warby Jack Shenker / November 8, 2019 / Leave a comment
Late in October, just as temperatures dropped and the nights drew in, more than 1,500 people joined an online conference call to discuss how Labour might win the upcoming general election.
Participants introduced themselves and shared their locations: from Crouch End to the Calder Valley, Canterbury to Cornwall. So many people were typing simultaneously that the text was often unreadable; it was a giddy celebration of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party by its most passionate activists. “Don’t listen to the naysayers and the doom-and-gloomers, don’t listen to the cynical hacks from the Westminster bubble!” Ash Sarkar, a journalist with the left-wing Novara media outlet, implored to wild applause. “This time around, you are Labour’s secret weapon,” insisted Callum Cant, an organiser with the pro-Corbyn Momentum group. He ran through some of the local initiatives that Momentum would pioneer to counteract the Conservative Party’s financial advantages: voter registration drives, phone-banks in living rooms, and WhatsApp threads to prompt like-minded friends and family members to knock on doors in marginal constituencies. “It’s only by stepping up your commitment that we will win,” he said.
Then it was time for a live link-up with Corbyn himself. Her Majesty’s Leader of the Opposition appeared on screen with the outlines of a children’s soft-play area and ball pit dimly in view behind him; he was calling in from the back room of a community centre in Harrow, where he’d just been meeting with supermarket workers, trade unionists and Labour members. “In this election campaign, nobody anywhere in this country will say there isn’t a choice,” he declared. This was vintage Corbyn, revelling in the role he plays best: the unvarnished politician communicating directly with supporters, rather than being trapped in the corridors of Westminster where the ambience and rituals reek of institutional power on somebody else’s terms.
“So, be up for it,” he concluded, his voice rising. “It’s going to be cold, it’s going to be wet… but you’ll look back on the winter of 2019 as the time you delivered a government that didn’t believe in free market economics and neoliberal thought, and instead believed in people, believed in social justice, whose whole being is based on our socialist values, and you would have got cold and wet for a very good reason.”…