12 Sep 2015

The Corbyn factor: shocking the political system through sheer normality

90 per cent of Labour MPs did not vote for him, but 59.5 per cent of Labour’s 422,664 voters did. The disconnect between Westminster and British politics writ large.


Jeremy Corbyn has connected with grass-roots party politics across the United Kingdom like no other Labour politician since Tony Blair. Yet whilst Blair was coiffed, prepped, focus grouped and spun, Corbyn’s sheer normality comes almost itself as shock to the political system. Hot tempered we know, but he’s extraordinarily ‘normal’ too. Relaxed, yet confident in himself, suddenly what he looks like matters not a jot.

I have blogged before about the alienation and disillusion that so many feel from the whole Westminster circus. Corbyn’s record is the antithesis of honours, expenses fiddling, war and austerity. It is those issues that have driven so many to the Corbyn cause. Yvette, Liz, and Andy just could not distance themselves enough from the Blairite past and the Westminster present.

I remember whilst covering the Scottish Referendum almost experiencing a sense of political intoxication: the enthusiasm, the detail, the debate, and the understanding of the issues was unlike anything I had experienced in the UK. I could not imagine such a thing happening in England. To a very large extent with Corbyn, it might.

Those serried ranks of Labour MPs that refused to countenance a vote for Corbyn have been wrong footed. It will be intriguing to see what they now do. My suspicion is that Corbyn has the where-with-all to last much longer than they think. Possibly, with so many behind him in the country, to achieve much more than they can imagine.

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31 reader comments

  1. Aidrean O'Cearra says:

    I hope and pray that you are right Jon.

    For the first time in over 2 decades, the GB public now have a true choice between Conservative and Labour. For too long it has been Conservative vs conservative. Clear blue water between each party’s policies is what is needed to foster real debate, and real choice for the electorate. Now we’ll get that, at the very least.

  2. Iain says:

    Jon Snow working on a weekend? Something momentous must be happening! We will be getting a 7 day NHS next!

  3. Branka Tomasevic-Rokvic says:

    Well done Snow to your honesty and integrity for voicing this. Stunning Westminster by being ‘normal’. That is what every human being deep down in their heart feels and thinks. And that does not mean one has not have vision or wisdom.

  4. Tez livin says:

    For a change the establishment and their media have lost control of the situation, with this result that reflects the feelings of many ordinary decent folk, who are probably the majority. You Jon, seem to be a reliable honest person, I hope you will be able to maintain a good standard of reporting policy development by the emerging Labour Party, avoid the personality cult reporting beloved of BBC etc and therefore contribute to real change in politics. Thank you.

  5. Philip Edwards says:


    You probably expect too much of yourself. Hiding away in the god forsaken hole that is Berkshire – just down the road from the nuke weapons factory at Aldermaston – isn’t calculated to support a sense of reality.

    Multi-coloured ties and socks can only get you so far.

    Me, I intend to watch laughing as political traitors like hard right John McTernan squirm and squeal for the next few years. God knows they’ve got it coming.

    Corbyn has something none of the New Labour spivs have ever had or will ever have. That is called democratic fairness and honesty.

    For the first time it looks like we might actually have someone who takes on the crooks, liars and spivs in Canary Wharf. Even if he does, that’s just the start. But we’ll see.

    We have to come out of this dark age of institutional corruption and tenth rate barrow boy economics sooner or later. The sooner the better. That’s what terrifies the far right who have ripped off the country for over a generation now.

    As for Jon Snow………..whose side will YOU be on?

    1. Jackcabnory says:

      Wow, you obviously didn’t read the same post. Jon was very balanced and if anything shares your optimism.

  6. Kathleen O'Neill says:

    I do hope you are right Jon. And as for Zoe Williams making reference to ragtag freaks in the shadow cabinet I presume that now as she is a Jonny cum lately we do not seem quite as bad to her. Tony Benn would be chuckling in his grave. I am so sorry he did not live to see this day.

  7. June Knight says:

    Thank you

    You have got it RIGHT!

    Jeremy Corbyn has smashed the Carefully Crafted Message and Straight Jacketed Party Line to open the debate and where we go forward and how to the whole country.

    The People once more are Engaged in Party Politic and the future of their country.

    How Frighteningly worrying to Some.(winks at this point)

  8. peter hunt says:

    I think a lot of working class labour voters like myself are for his policies on investment, nationalisation of the railways, etc but might find other aspects a bit worrying. such as the troops out movement, connections with various Palestinian groups and other for want of a better word agitprop agendas. These are fine in north London but cut little mustard elsewhere. Also many working people are very concerned about immigration, about social cohesion and rightly worry if he lets too many migrants in what effect that will have on culture, freedom of speech and could cause severe alienation amongst decent working people and could play intp the hands of UKIP or worse.

  9. Alan Robinson says:

    What he has going for him is that he understands that movements can not be sustained by figureheads alone, and he gives confidence by that example of cheerful, unselfish working together. He will have everything thrown at him that the political establishment can muster, but he stands a chance of making headway for socialism in action precisely because a time appears to have arrived when a broad cross-section of people are fed up of being isolated by barriers erected by an increasingly privileged elite.

  10. Ryan Evans says:

    I agree with your analysis. The breathtaking arrogance of some members of the PLP astounds me. I have voted Labour since 1970, at every election, local and national except in 2015, when I voted for UKIP. The likes of Tristram Hunt, Jamie Reed etc have been elected as Labour MPs taking votes like mine for granted. We are good enough for votes when it suits them but they only pay lip service to believing that we should have a say in policy matters and the election of the leader we want. I voted for Jeremy and do not want a slick Blairite type leader. We have reclaimed our party from their arrogance and if they are stupid enough to attempt a coup against Jeremy they will face the wrath of our membership/supporters. They should be reminded of what happened in Islington after 1983 when Jeremy was elected as an MP. The three MPs George Cunningham, John Grant and Michael O Halloran two who joined the SDP and the other as an independent were defeated. All of the 51 Labour Councillors in Islington who defected to the SDP were defeated at the next local council elections. Arrogant MPs be warned, you will be looking for a new job too if you do not work constructively with Jeremy.

  11. Just Hairman says:

    Just thought I’d point out that a ot of us in Wales voted for him as well. And, yes – he’s a breath of fresh air!

  12. Michelle Churchland says:

    Thank you for this Jon. I have been despairing about the standard of British news reports of late. What the British public needs as much as a potential P.M. that they can trust(Corbyn), is a more fair and balanced news service on mainstream media. As it stands ,the media and elite seem literally terrified at the prospect of the British people having any real say or choice about their country and the policies that shape it. Please, allow us all to have a real voice, and a choice in our future, by not buying into the usual smear campaigns and vilification tactics that have helped to sink the British media to the depths that they have sunk to in recent years.
    All I’m asking is that you keep an open mind. This is a good start.

  13. Mark Wiseman says:

    As a Dad, I really connected with the image recently of Jeremy walking with who I presumed was his son, mid-late 20’s. His son subconsciously reached out to smooth down his Dad’s hair, which was being ruffled by the wind. It spoke volumes to me about what sort of a man he is. Children are like fruit from the parental tree, a good tree bearing good fruit, etc.
    My main worry is that he will be shredded by the Oxbridge lot in Westminster, who surely have become even more intolerable given a generation of time to coalesce as a monotone, one dimensional, and toxic phalanx. I for one will be praying every day for his protection and prosperity (in the greater sense), but I wonder where, in a society that bestows such unspoken and automatic privilege on accent, ancestry and educational background, men and women with that ‘uniform’ will speak out in his defense, and in encouragement?

  14. Jack says:

    At long last we have a left Labour party again…

  15. Mike Freeman says:

    I was waiting for someone to pull the “You’re well-off so you can’t be a socialist” comments out.

    I’m a home owner but that doesn’t me I can’t campaign for everyone to have the same chances as me.

  16. Emily Jones says:

    Well said Jon. Your article is spot on. Here’s hoping for re-invigorated politics that connects with ordinary people. It’s what we all desperately need. Thanks for being a sane voice in the media – it’s very disturbing how biased the reporting of Corbyn’s victory has been. Rather than challenging the Westminster elite for how out of touch they have been with ordinary party members, media pundits of all stripes appear to be trying to set up Corbyn to fail. Now more than ever we need a genuinely independent media.

  17. Trevor Clarke says:

    I’m not sure about how “normal” Jeremy Corbyn is but he seems to be closer to the man/woman on the street than so many other politicians. Can it, or will it be maintained as Leader of the Opposition, or will he become cocooned and detached in a PR minder bubble? I detected a few signs of it so soon after his election.

    Will he really continue to cycle everywhere? Or be allowed to? If so, look out for some Boris style video clips of expletives in response to the less than complimentary comments from the man/woman on the street that are not supporters. (Or Michael Crick thrusting a microphone under his nose as he tries to wobble away!).

  18. Algar G-B says:

    I have in the last 24 hours rejoined labour. We now have a party led by a true leader – one with vision, humility, honesty, integrity and kindness. Leadership is our responsibility too. Jeremy has given me hope – now I will do my bit and add that to a society that is humane. Thank you Jeremy.

  19. Khaled says:

    Westminster has made a farce of democracy. This club of ‘professional’ politicians that are only interested in being re-elected has disgusted people of politics and politicians. Is it too naive to hope for change ?
    I am a higher rate tax payer by some margin but I joined labour today.

  20. Rob Doughty says:

    I fervently hope the Jeremy Corbyn will steer a course towards a fairer society, end the vilification of the disabled, proper funding for the NHS, closing of tax loopholes etc. However, I also hope that he takes on board the reservations of a sizeable section of the UK population with regard to the likes of immigration and nuclear disarmament.

    The majority of British people are fair minded and would be willing to help genuine refugees, but only until such time as they can return to their homeland. Permanent migration is viewed with suspicion and as a threat to British values, culture and the livelihoods of British people.

    While most fear the consequences of a nuclear conflict (quite rightly), they are also fearful of the consequences of NOT possessing some form of nuclear capability. So whilst they would accept the non-replacement of Trident (thereby saving a huge amount of taxpayers money), they would be more reticent about the removal of all of Britain’s nuclear arsenal.

  21. Vince says:

    It’s a New Dawn a New Day as the song goes. Absolutely delighted with the result, it was important that JC got a big majority a BIG mandate from the grass roots of the Party, this should ensure partial unity for the time being. I was a member of the Labour Party in the 80’s and became more dissolutioned as the Party moved right and then right again to get elected. I was pleased as all Labour supporters were in 97 although I wasn’t a member and hadn’t been since the late 80’s, Blair’s first term had notable policy highlights not least peace in Northern Ireland, but also it had major negatives such as the PFI which our children could be paying for until their old age.
    Despite having voted Labour in every General Election since 79′ I hadn’t realised just how far the party had moved to the right until I heard the first hustings debate and then I realised that me and all like minded Socialists had been absolutely starved of ‘Real’ debate, the General Election debates were a Joke, the Tories got away with absolute smear after smear, completely unchallenged, leaving the electorate to assume the financial crash WAS Labour’s fault, because our Labour Politician’s lined up to apologise for the over spending, Liam Byrne’s ‘ironic’ note at the treasury being used as evidence. The right wing media including the BBC (thanks Panorama) are lining up to paint Corbyn as a danger to society, all very predictable stuff, just a note of warning to the ESTABLISHMENT did your smears work in the last 3 months? Social media has changed the game, the young are Savvy there is a movement building, lets see how well Osbourne or Johnson does against a REAL politician who can handle all the lies and smears, the truth will win out, HOPE or FEAR ……………my money is on the former. JEZ WE DID !!!!

  22. AW1983 says:

    New Labour divides into three camps. There are those who truly believe in third way politics as a cause for good and then there are those who are committed to social justice but who aren’t experts in economics and adhere to the consensus. The third way will evaporate. Its faces will become of the past, its new adherents will find new outlets outside of the Labour Party. The others, they will switch allegiance if they think the mainstream has moved.

    Then there is a third group, those in the pay of the corporate lobbyists. The Labour MPs who quit and find themselves on the Boards of private healthcare companies or arms manufacturers. They will fight tooth and nail to get ‘their’ party back and use their friends in the media to do so.

    For most of us, we need to choose those who want to represent us. I don’t think anyone wants extremism, just less corruption in office, less influence by cash, more people from ordinary backgrounds in office doing extraordinary things.

    Corbyn does not have a mandate to be a Marxist or a Socialist. He has a mandate to represent ethical politics across the centre left.

  23. Nick Hanna says:

    Privy Council oath likely to be a bit of a problem for Mr Crobyn?

    Wikipaedia quote:

    It was formerly regarded by the Privy Council as criminal, and possibly treasonous, to disclose the oath administered to Privy Counsellors as they take office. However, the oath was officially made public by the Blair government in a written parliamentary answer in 1998, as follows:

    You do swear by Almighty God to be a true and faithful Servant unto the Queen’s Majesty, as one of Her Majesty’s Privy Council. You will not know or understand of any manner of thing to be attempted, done, or spoken against Her Majesty’s Person, Honour, Crown, or Dignity Royal, but you will lett and withstand the same to the uttermost of your Power, and either cause it to be revealed to Her Majesty Herself, or to such of Her Privy Council as shall advertise Her Majesty of the same. You will, in all things to be moved, treated, and debated in Council, faithfully and truly declare your Mind and Opinion, according to your Heart and Conscience; and will keep secret all Matters committed and revealed unto you, or that shall be treated of secretly in Council. And if any of the said Treaties or Counsels shall touch any of the Counsellors, you will not reveal it unto him, but will keep the same until such time as, by the Consent of Her Majesty, or of the Council, Publication shall be made thereof. You will to your uttermost bear Faith and Allegiance unto the Queen’s Majesty; and will assist and defend all Jurisdictions, Pre-eminences, and Authorities, granted to Her Majesty, and annexed to the Crown by Acts of Parliament, or otherwise, against all Foreign Princes, Persons, Prelates, States, or Potentates. And generally in all things you will do as a faithful and true Servant ought to do to Her Majesty. So help you God.

  24. Meg Howarth says:

    Not a member of any political party but the media attacks on JC, and particularly his shadow-chancellor John McDonnell, have almost propelled me to join. McDonnell supports land-value tax – widely referred to by its abbreviation LVT – something every progressive politician should get behind. Interesting to see that HM Treasury has an LVT section. I trust they’ll give JMcD every assistance in formulating policy on the matter when the Tories are ousted in 2020…

  25. IAS2015 says:

    Right, “shocking the political system”, but only seen and felt as VOICE that serves the failings, challenges and aspirations of ‘ordinary’ people in our communities.
    Believe me, the privileged are afraid!!

    The media is focusing on his presentation of dress wear, and his seeming disrespect not to sing at a recent celebration.

    Isn’t Corbyn an example of a politicians who doesn’t protect the privileged or the “establishment” but one who seems principles in his Values as he stands for and wants protect REAL values and develop a REAL democracy in-tune with Fairness and Justice for ALL?

    Isn’t this so far away from anything that the “privileged” Cameron. Osborne… etc – that it’s RADICAL?

    Just maybe, Corbyn will change the political system – including the policy that allows MPs not to be tested for their achievements in representations of constituents. Ok, maybe that is far too radical for Corbyn at this stage.

  26. Simon says:

    60% of voters for. 90% of mps against. In Australia we’d call that a wedgie. If you’re googling, use the image search! Better, 99% of the “main stream media” wedgied, more painfully even, but not our Jon Snow! Well it couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of blokes. And sheilas.

  27. tom easton says:

    The Tories will self destruct , they always do. Let’s hope Corbyn is still the Labour leader when the inevitable happens .

  28. interested party says:

    Corbyn’s policies are sensible, he is indeed ‘normal’ as you say. That is a shock to hear almost as if we’ve become so used to putting up with the circus of Westminster as you describe it that a quiet voice requires an adjustment of attention which jolts the awareness.

  29. paulf says:

    Thanks for those comments Jon. It’s good to hear a member of the mainstream media give Corbyn a fair appraisal.

  30. Iain MacIain says:

    When people like John McCain and informed retired senior members of our armed forces judge that bombing in the absence of a coherent military political plan is merely gesture politics we should at least pause and reflect rather than launch attacks that will undoubtable cause more civilian casualties that degradation to Daesh.

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