Deprogramming Corbyn Devotees

The Owen Smith leadership bid is a challenge to the quasi-religious cult surrounding Jeremy Corbyn. Shaking that belief is going to an almost impossible task.

Much has been said about the Momentum organised rallies which are attracting thousands. They have been vaunted by Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign team and Momentum as proof that Corbyn’s support is strong and that he can see off the challenge by Owen Smith who hasn’t attracted similar audiences.

But many critics point out the fact that many in the audience are existing supporters — and not new converts to the Corbynite ranks. But that’s going to be the case if you are the challenged rather than the challenged. These events are designed to shore up support in the same way that religion shores up belief.

Think of any regular religious ceremony, such as Church service, Hindu worship, Muslim prayer or Jewish worship. All these rituals have similar details such as speeches, music and chanting. That’s exactly what Jeremy Corbyn’s rallies are designed to do — to shore up spiritual belief.

And that’s the problem for the Smith campaign. You cannot attack belief with logic. It has to be shaken by an act of betrayal by the godhead. The fact that Corbyn didn’t campaign with vigor and enthusiasm for remaining in the EU is not a strong enough act of betrayal to shake Corbyn’s supporters of their belief in him.

Don’t assume that his supporters are ignorant of logic and reason. Many of them are professional ABs. They are academics, lawyers, accountants, doctors, etc — just like your church, temple or synagogue. I believe in God — and I suspend reason and logic in order shore up my own beliefs. A spiritual aspect is important for my mental health.

Which brings us to the next problem: If you shatter someone’s belief, you had better replace it with something else. I’m not suggesting that Owen Smith establish his own Church — but real community activity in the Labour Party which isn’t centered on any faction or individual. In a sense, I am proposing what Momentum has promised but has failed to deliver.