There is a class of conviction politician who, over time, become convinced they are infallible, simply by dint of a few good and/or popular acts. And it destroys them...
First published in November 2020.
Margaret Thatcher won the Falklands War, and it made her feel invincible. She destroyed Michael Foot, was in the hot-seat when the Soviet Union fell, won election after election. It went to her head, she started making woeful decisions, and it ended her movement for 20 years...
You can very easily argue (and I would agree) that many of her decisions were awful BEFORE the ego took over. But by her own standards, she was successful, because she was capable of taking enough people with her and acting rationally. Then hubris. The Poll Tax. The end.
Tony Blair came to think himself indallie after a few incontrovertible successes: Drop The Debt, Peace in Ireland, ending the Kosovo War. He began to think a thing was good simply because he backed it, rather than only backing good things. Then hubris. Iraq. The end.
Jeremy Corbyn was the UnBlair. He opposed the incontrovertibly BAD things Blair did (Iraq, Afghanistan), was proven right on those things, and was greeted with singing, adoring crowds after defeating the continuity Blairite candidates.
I am not making a special case of him in any way, other than his hubris came about without actually winning an election or delivering a single policy. But he was just as much of a victim of hubris as Blair or Thatcher. It appears to me that Jeremy Corbyn has come to think he is innately Good. And therefore anything he does is innately Good. It infers upon him a sense of infallibility, and that, in turn, leads to him thinking it is OK to deny the findings of the independent Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). Blair did the same thing: believed himself a Saint, therefore how could criticism be real?
The problem is, fans of each of these politicians refuse to accept it. They are locked in a feedback loop, endlessly reinforcing that sense of infallibility.
I don’t especially blame Corbyn for the hubris. I don’t dislike him, and now that he has left a job he was clearly not right for, I rarely think about him at all. But I do kinda pity him, because he is suffering all the delusions of power without having achieved any of the successes.
I think, on a purely personal level, it would be good for him to withdraw from this now. Fighting on smacks of vanity, and the idea that Keir Starmer, Rachel Riley and the EHRC are in league to discredit him... Honestly, I doubt one of them wants to give him the publicity.
His friends should advise him to retire. So should Blair’s, frankly. This isn’t about having a pop at Corbyn, although you probably won’t believe me. It’s about recognising when your moment has passed: clinging on is so unhealthy.🔷
Russell Jones, Designer, data analyst, blogger.
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🗳️ Keir Starmer