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AS much as I’d like to lay claim to being a cultured follower of Shakespeare, I’m not. I am aware, however, of some of the famous quotes from his work, and one in particular often makes me think of Jeremy Corbyn: “Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
I don’t need to point out which version of greatness best relates to Corbyn, the humblest politician in Parliament.
Corbyn was often thought of as the reluctant leader. He decided to throw his hat in the ring in 2015, not to reach the next obvious rung on the ladder of career progression, or to revel in watching himself back after gruelling interviews or PMQs. He did it for us.
He did it for everyone who signed the petition myself and Beck Barnes started in 2015 with the help and support of Red Labour’s Naomi Fearon, calling for an anti-austerity candidate to run in the Labour leadership contest.
We were crying out for change, for Labour to become a real opposition, for hope — and Corbyn couldn’t resist that pressure despite his natural inclination to be part of the collective rather than lead it.
And that’s why we grew to respect, trust and even love him as a leader in a way that nobody, least of all Corbyn, could have ever envisaged.
Over time we were accused of being a cult with our “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” chant, scarves and badges. Frankly, we didn’t care. Not because we were a cult unless as some Corbyn supporters started to jokingly refer to themselves, they were members of “the cult of giving a f***.”
But because we knew this was never about Corbyn the man. It was all about what that man stood for and the hope he represented.
Having said that, we knew we owed that hope to the courage of that man and we loved him for it. And the more he was scorned and smeared and slandered, the more angry and outraged we became.
After all, we are a movement that only exists because of our intolerance of all things unfair and unjust, and the treatment Corbyn received from the Establishment, including — and especially — from the Labour rightwingers, was both of these things in spades.
Eventually, our hopes and dreams were murdered. Killed. Slayed by the Machiavellian manoeuvres of the Establishment and their proxy People’s Vote campaign enacted so well by the current, vile, Labour leader.
Well, that’s what they like to think.
In reality, that hope and dream is still there. It’s even greater than it was in 2015, before Corbyn took that brave and selfless step of running for leader. We are more aware than we were in 2015. More cynical. More battle weary. However, we are also more angry, more determined, and more confident.
Thanks to Corbyn and the movement that grew around him, we have seen how popular left-wing policy positions can be. We now know they almost won a general election despite the most hostile press and Parliamentary Labour Party in political history.
I’m so grateful to Corbyn for running for leader. I’m so grateful for the hope he helped me feel and the hope that still burns within me because of the lessons learnt during that exhilarating, painful time.
Many now know the current Labour Party is an Establishment tool to keep up the pretence of democracy without the risk of anything much changing.
I’m not averse to good socialists staying in the Labour Party. However I am excited by the idea of the left finding new ways to fight for real change, be that through new parties, trade unionism, more general political activism, or by joining the Green Party to steer it in a more socialist direction.
Despite what on the surface appears like fragmentation, there is a solidarity that runs deep amongst us all, forged during the Corbyn era.
So yes, Corbyn is a great man, despite or maybe because of the fact he can’t see it himself.
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