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Corbynmania: Young people across Britain are flocking to Jeremy Corbyn’s cause (photo: Chris Beckett/Flickr

The late Tony Benn seldom missed an opportunity to scorn weathercocks: those slippery, chameleon-like characters who populate both the government and opposition benches in alarming numbers. Infinitely preferable to be a signpost, according to Benn, and stick staunchly to one ideology regardless of public opinion or shifting political zeitgeists. Of course, there is a substantial degree of truth to this. The last great British statesman, Lady Thatcher, stood firmly by her principles despite strong opposition from both the public and members of her own Cabinet. Her opponents — Gorbachev and trades unions alike — may have despised the Iron Lady’s politics, but they certainly respected her grit.

Benn’s protégé Jeremy Corbyn, however, is an altogether more dangerous species of signpost. His extreme left-wing rhetoric is peppered with moral absolutes, imbuing what would ordinarily be laughably arcane policies with a degree of credibility. He talks about social justice and solidarity with such earnestness and zeal that even I, an erstwhile President of the Oxford University Conservative Association, find myself forgetting that Corbyn is a man who believes that reopening coalmines, printing banknotes and  holding peace talks with ISIS are sure-fire routes to a more prosperous and harmonious society.

Hardly surprising, then, that my contemporaries are flocking in droves to support Corbyn’s campaign. In an age where political activism has been reduced to Facebook witch-hunts and Twitter debates; where blaming inequality on the straw man of capitalism is easier than engaging in meaningful introspection; and where an entire generation has grown up insulated from the grim realities of life in the Soviet Union, young people across Britain are parroting Corbyn’s ill-conceived platitudes on renationalisation and ending austerity. At Oxford, the website of a student group calling itself Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century decries the injustices supposedly inherent in any capitalist society while lionising Lenin and Trotsky — both practitioners of mass killings and torture — as “great revolutionaries”. Even the formerly moderate Oxford University Labour Club has officially endorsed Corbyn’s campaign, calling for “socialist democracy” with the sort of hypocrisy that only a group of largely white, privately-educated Home Counties kids can pull off. But I can just about excuse the youthful naivety of my peers; surely the wisdom that comes with age and a better acquaintance with the works of Orwell will teach them that unreconstructed Marxism is not a political bandwagon they ought to be jumping on.

The intellectual laziness of Corbyn’s political opponents, however, is inexcusable. Much of the centre-Right, having decided that Corbyn poses no great threat to the Conservative majority, has resorted to lampooning him at every opportunity. He has been caricatured by Toby Young as a Japanese soldier emerging from the Burmese jungle, unaware that the Second World War has ended and ready to refight long-settled battles. David Cameron himself has declared it “fun to watch Labour make a mess of things”. Most distastefully, numerous grassroots Conservatives have paid £3 to register as Labour party supporters in order to vote for Corbyn, gleefully documenting their efforts on social media under the banner “Tories for Corbyn”.

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amcdonald
September 14th, 2015
1:09 PM
A vain,sloppy, presumptuous article. The sociologist and philosopher Bassam Tibi (also a muslim) has the right idea. Unfortunately no muslims support him. There`s only me and Zizek so far. The Tory `Dismaland` might be terminal.

Anonymous
August 30th, 2015
2:08 AM
Ms. Ahmed is a rare voice of sanity, clarity and well-placed anger. We Americans could use a few more Maryam Ahmeds on our side of the pond.

Charlie 7Anonymous
August 28th, 2015
10:08 PM
Very perceptive. It is 25 years since the collapse of Communism and those under the age of 45 have little or no memory of it. There was no trials of communists who murdered tens of millions. Ever since 1935, the vast majority of arts and humanities academics have been left wing, especially post mid 1960s and in the ex-polys. Consequently, there are vast numbers of arts graduates who have left wing views, in part because of their indoctrination at university, who have been filling state and NGO positions since 1945 and especially post 1997. As Ruth Sutherland of The Observer pointed out , Browns economic policy was taking money from SE England and using it to increase public sector employment in the regions. There are many left wing academics and state employees who are Trots not traditional labour supporters, a reason why K livingstone won the election to become Mayor of London against the Labour candidate in 2000. As N Cohen pointed out,it was the 500 members of the Trot Socialist Action whose organisational skills who enabled Livingstone to win. The massive over supply of arts graduates has produced tens or even hundreds of thousands of under employed and potentially, very bitter, hateful, jealous and envious people. It was said that unemployed lawyers were a major cause of unrest which created the French Revolution. If Corbyn can unite all the hard left /Trot groups in academia, local government, the NHS, education and NGOs and mobilise a few tens of thousands of hateful under employed graduates with plenty of time on their hands to organise, then there could be problems.

Anonymous
August 27th, 2015
3:08 PM
I saw plenty of un-sourced claims of what Corbyn thinks or said here. e.g. "printing banknotes and holding peace talks with ISIS "

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