The rise of Corbyn… and that Yorkshire remark

JEREMY Corbyn’s resounding victory quite knocked away my intention to address the more parochial matter of David Cameron being rude about Yorkshire.

It had seemed for a while that the veteran left-winger would win the leadership of his party. And to cries of “Jez we can” – or that’s what it sounded like on the car radio driving back from the supermarket – Corbyn stole the poll this morning, securing 59.5 per cent of the vote. A victory thanks in part to the reported 88,499 supporters who voted for Corbyn after paying £3 to join the Labour Party.

Some of those who visit me on this ledge will be pleased by this result, as suggested by comments submitted to the blog or separate messages on Facebook.

I’m still not so sure. Is there any chance that the veteran protestor and complainer about much that his party believes in can do two things at once? Men are often teased about their inability to multi-task in this way. What Corbyn now has to do is unite a battered party whose members will not all be pleased about having him for a leader – while at the same time convincing enough Labour-sceptic voters that his brand of socialism could work for them.

I don’t belong to Labour or any other party, but I am a ragged old leftie by instinct, a long-time small ‘l’ liberal. To me what has happened today is one of those head-and-heart occasions.

My head says: hang on, do you really think having an old leftie for a leader is a good idea on any scale of common sense away from the whirlpool of wish-fulfilment? Can an anti-establishment leftie with no ministerial experience take on a resurgent Tory party? Well, I hope so because there is nothing more depressing than seeing Cameron and Osborne on a right-wing rampage. But once the febrile moment has gone, the danger is that Labour will wake up with a bad headache and even less chance of winning than before.

Now let the heart take over.

At least Corbyn seems to believe in what he says, rather than being one of those identikit pick-your-party talking heads we see so much nowadays. And it’s a long time since anyone stirred up quite so much excitement on the left. So give the man his chance (fingers crossed, wooden objects touched smooth and so on). And at least Corbyn dares to be anti-austerity, dares to speak up about what is happening under this government. And, well, you just never know.

That is probably quite enough from my hungry old heart (and everyone has one of those, according to the book of Springsteen). In all honesty I don’t know if this is a good day for Labour, or the beginning of a long march towards oblivion.

What happens now should in part be down to those three-pound Labour members whose undeniable enthusiasm for Jeremy Corbyn has seen their man lifted high. They need to stick around and stay loyal, to take an interest in the hero they created. Because if they wander off once the excitement is over, then Labour will left with a leader elected by temporary members who’ve passed on to the next craze.

But let’s hand back to the heart. This could be the start of something for those of us who grumble about the Tories. Perhaps Jez really can… that groaning you can hear off-stage is head complaining about a gathering migraine.

AS FOR Cameron’s unguarded moment, was this such a big deal? The prime minister was caught by a microphone while discussing rival devolution bids in Yorkshire, saying: “We just thought people in Yorkshire hated everyone else, we didn’t really they hated each other so much.”

As a Bristol-born, Manchester-raised former Londoner and long-time resident of Yorkshire, I can see where he was coming from. Pride in Yorkshire as a whole, and as an almost mythical identity, is something immovable in this county. And fair enough, there is much cause for such pride.

Step beyond that and the rivalries open up: between York and Leeds, Leeds and Bradford, everywhere else and Hull.

It’s a twin-track affair: people love Yorkshire unfailingly, while thinking their particular patch is without doubt the best.

And I think the prime minister was joking. I was ejected from the David Cameron fan club a long time ago, but I thought this was quite amusing.

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