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What remains of the Corbynistas?

Jeremy Corbyn has built up a large personal support base in Islington North. Credit: Getty

June 23, 2024 - 3:00pm

North London

As the sun beat down on Whittington Park in North London, a curious mixture of unlikely comrades came together to voice their support for the independent candidate for Islington North. Old union folk, long-grey-haired hippies, young creatives, middle-class progressives, Palestine activists and British Muslims all cheered for “the man who is on our side”. But what side is that? The patchwork of people with ostensibly different political concerns sparked the thought: who makes up Jeremy Corbyn’s support base?

A young woman who introduced Corbyn was herself billed as a “Palestine activist and a local teacher”. Note the order. She then spoke of the excitement that children in every school in the area had for Corbyn. Unlike most other constituencies, the kids knew the name of their MP. “Jeremy is the future of our constituency,” she proclaimed. Jeremy, 75, is also the 40-year past of the constituency, having held the seat since 1983.

Next atop the soapbox stage was the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) President Ian Hudson. He had travelled from Blackpool the day prior to start canvassing for his old pal and he galvanised the “Corbyn family”. Taking a pop at the new candidate Labour has selected to compete against the expelled former leader, Hudson said Praful Nargund had “made his wealth in private health” (Nargund used to work as a director at his family’s IVF treatment company). When I spoke to Corbyn, he told me he was “disgusted” at the way he had been treated by the party.

Hudson went on: “There are loads of people coming here from outside [Islington North] because they recognise that if we want a voice in Westminster, we as a class have to organise and put them there.” No doubt it chimed for some genuinely working-class people in the audience, but it was hard to avoid the feeling that young upwardly mobile creatives with their totes and craft coffees were LARPing radicalism. “We as a class,” Hudson had shouted. That might have worked in Blackpool, less so in Islington.

Then up stepped the man himself. After giving thanks to his disciples, Corbyn said: “This beautiful park didn’t come from nowhere. No park came from nowhere. It came because of progressive politics.” He spoke of his local successes, including ensuring Whittington Park’s survival and retaining the Number 4 bus service. There was also some mention of his global efforts: standing up for human rights and championing environmentalism. A man recording him had a Socialist Worker “Freedom for Palestine” sticker on his phone. Children ran around playing with mini Palestine flags. From the Number 4 bus to Palestine, it was a disorientating mix of the hyper-local and the global.

While the teacher might have been overstating the excitement Islington’s schoolchildren have for their MP, there is no doubt that Corbyn looms large in these parts.  Seen as part-sage, part-heroic leader, since 2010 he has won his seat at every election with more than half the vote share, reaching a high of 73% in 2017 with a 33,000 majority. What will also give Corbyn confidence that he can win this seat even without the party infrastructure he has previously enjoyed is the fact that this is a politically engaged constituency. In 2019, the voter turnout here was 71%; in the UK as a whole it was 67%.

But it will still worry Corbyn and his team that he is an independent. The MC who was giving the activists advice on what to say at the doors insisted they should open with the question: “Do you know Jeremy Corbyn is standing as an independent at this election?” Many people don’t know, he conceded.

Corbyn’s ignominious fall from the top of the Labour Party as it made its turn back to rehashed Blairism is the elephant in the room, and the Labour Party in its present form is despised here. Hudson, a lifelong Labour voter, told me he would be voting Green. Martin, from nearby Dalston which falls under Diane Abbott’s constituency of Hackney North and Stoke Newington, said he would be doing the same. While Starmer will devote little concern to what happens in Islington North on 4 July, he may have turned away many more Left-wing voters than the polls suggest.


Max Mitchell is UnHerd’s Assistant Editor, Newsroom.

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Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
28 days ago

What remains of the Corbynistas?
Small bands of diehards up in the mountains and deep in the jungles.

Andrew Vanbarner
Andrew Vanbarner
28 days ago

And various cool kids at very expensive universities, or in very prestigious positions in corporate America, or in the upper echelons of our respective national governments.
Join the struggle while you may, the revolution is just a tee-shirt away.

Martin M
Martin M
28 days ago

More like bands in the Mines of Moria, being led by a Balrog.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
28 days ago

Takes the credit for the Number 4 bus, after spending a political lifetime trying to stifle the economic activity required to pay for the Number 4 bus.

John Riordan
John Riordan
28 days ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

Quite. That idiotic claim that the park he’s in is only there because of progressivism.

What an arse he is.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
28 days ago

“She then spoke of the excitement that children in every school in the area had for Corbyn.”

That’ll be during the Palestinian Gender Studies module.

I was under the impression that Islington has woeful educational standards despite his 40 years of loving concern and care.

Catherine Conroy
Catherine Conroy
28 days ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

Thank you for making me laugh. Love the Palestinian Gender Studies module.

Katja Sipple
Katja Sipple
28 days ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

That’s not just an impression; that’s a fact! Most of the pupils wouldn’t be able to find so-called Palestine on a map! I dare say that probably half of their teachers will also struggle to locate Gaza and the West Bank.

Jonathan Glass
Jonathan Glass
28 days ago
Reply to  Katja Sipple

Half of them probably can’t find their own tuchus!

Robbie K
Robbie K
28 days ago

To his credit at least Corbyn has backbone and an ideology which he has stuck to, and because of that he is a brilliant campaigner and philosophist – quite the opposite therefore to Sir Kneel.
It’s just unfortunate of course that his world view is diseased and twisted, otherwise he could be a genuine asset to the country rather than a freak show in which his vision would have resulted in the UK mirroring the disaster that is Islington.

Peter Drummond
Peter Drummond
27 days ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Corbyn has represented North Islington for 40+ years, he hasn’t had a new opinion or thought in 45.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
28 days ago

“From the Number 4 bus to Palestine…”

Not quite what the author meant i know… but what a good idea! Let them all take that bus.

Katja Sipple
Katja Sipple
28 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Without a return ticket, please!

Martin M
Martin M
28 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

I’m going to check Red Bubble to see if there is a t-shirt with that on the front!

Paul T
Paul T
28 days ago

Corbynistas – I always found the diminutive and feminine sound of this irrelevant when referring to his fanbase.
Corbynoids – more accurate, describes drones, cyborgs, humanoids all spouting the same Borg-like desire to assimilate and ultimately destroy any difference “for the good of all”.

Ryan K
Ryan K
28 days ago

what ‘s this rancid piece of sh t doing for famine and deprivation and rape in Sudan. fcking antisemite.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
28 days ago
Reply to  Ryan K

Quite so. And the Turkic Muslim genocide in North West China.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
28 days ago

Corbynistas turning to the Greens. That helps to explain the recent Green election flyer I saw that bullet-pointed Gaza and disarming Israel, while completely forgetting to mention global warming or the environment at all.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
27 days ago

Since 2016 the Conservatives have changed PM without the new PM going to the country. Labour will do the same if Starmer fails to satisfy the Left.

Douglas Redmayne
Douglas Redmayne
26 days ago

The Left have personality disorders and adherence to the creed should be treated as a mental illness which could be subject to sectioning