Corbyn: reluctant hero or selfish schemer relishing taste of power?
He portrays himself as a reluctant hero – but nothing could be further from the truth. For 50 years, Jeremy Corbyn has schemed and plotted to get ahead in politics, driven to impose the far-Left views he first embraced as a teenager on a country he has never quite felt at home in.
Today, aged 67, like a child tearfully clutching his football long after the other kids have gone home, he clings to the leadership with an iron grip that belies the myth he was loathe to serve.
And it is in the particular circumstances of his childhood where an explanation can be found for his stubborn refusal to step aside even as his shadow cabinet desert him one by one.
Raised in rural Shropshire by Leftleaning Bohemians, Mr Corbyn, grew up alienated from his Tory neighbours and detesting his rule-obsessed grammar school.
By 16, when he joined the Labour Party, he was an angry young man and socialism seemed to provide answers to his disaffection. His political journey was complete by his early 20s, when he moved to north London, at the time the epicentre of extreme Leftism. There were marches, rallies, sit-ins, protests. Finally, Corbyn fitted in. Throughout the 1970s, he agitated and schemed for a far-Left, Bennite takeover of his party, sacrificing his waking hours (and two marriages) to the cause. No matter if his world view was on the far margins. No matter, indeed, if the party split, as it did so disastrously in 1983.
But then, as one Labour MP said recently: “Jeremy never understood that Labour owes more to Methodism than Marxism.”
Once in Parliament, Mr Corbyn continued to put the interests of his tiny faction above that of his party, waging a virtual one-man war against his own leadership.
Just as he had refused to serve in his school cadet force, he simply did not view politics as a team sport. Having never played by the rules, and failing to recognise a higher duty to party, he must have been baffled by David Cameron’s honourable decision to resign. To Corbyn, “doing the decent thing” is anathema.
In the 10 months since he came to power, many have commented on how clearly “Comrade Corbyn” enjoys the job he attested not to want.
Holed up in the bunker, his acolytes will today be urging him to ignore the pleas to stand aside for the good of party and country.
For the sake of the cause he must stay on, they will tell him. And he will modestly agree.
For the sake of the cause he must stay on, his acolytes will tell him. And he will modestly agree.
Jeremy Corbyn attended Adams’ Grammar School in Shropshire