I had another conversation yesterday with a second old friend who is actively involved in Labour Party politics who spoke of the “idealism” of the new recruits flooding into their ranks.
Like me my old friend experienced Jeremy Corbyn Mk1 back in the 1980s, although we experienced it from different sides of the barricades, “literally” as everybody seems to like to say.
She made the comment that the new Labour members are coming to the support the cause “history free.”
I asked her what she meant by this and she said that they largely either don’t care what happened in the past because they think the future is different, or they just don’t believe the stories about what we both experienced. There is a third group she said, which is much smaller, of people who do know the history and actually want to repeat it.
We both came to the same conclusion. Enthusiasm for politics and idealistic support for new leaders and new ideas is a great thing.
What perplexed us both is that Jeremy Corbyn is not new, he has a track record which is there to see. When he was in local government he and his friends in London Labour Briefing, the forerunners of Momentum, wrecked public services and bullied opponents on their “own side” out of politics.
Corbyn style politics in the 1970-80s was ugly and violent.
We also had to admit that it was all a long time ago and that it’s hardly surprising that new recruits to politics now, particularly younger ones, really don’t care. Bizarrely (to us) they see Corbyn Mk2 as something new and different in politics. Greyer heads on both sides of the barricades know it isn’t, or at least we believe it isn’t. Maybe we are wrong. I hope so.
We ended our chat agreeing that our best hope was that history does not repeat itself.