The Left-wing Labour Cult


Photograph: A Labour Party contingent during a 1980s demonstration to protect a woman’s right to choose. On the farthest left hand side is my mum and with her some of those fantastic friends I mention.

This is a response to not only Hadley Freeman’s latest article for The Guardian (which in short describes Corbyn supporters as cult members) but the many pieces carrying similar sentiments I have seen since Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader.

For once I am going to up sell myself because I think it is necessary under these circumstances: I am an intelligent young woman and I consider myself to be equally compassionate and empathetic. I have been engaged in politics since the day my mum stood outside a polling station to support the Labour party, adorned with a red rosette and a baby in a sling (me). I continued to attend political rallies and demonstrations throughout my childhood and adulthood. I wrote the only vaguely political articles for my high-school newspaper in my final years of attendance. I got involved in student protests against the rise in tuition fees and government cuts during my undergraduate degree. I founded an intersectional feminist bookclub online to provide a safe space for those who were interested to discuss feminist literature without fear of being attacked. I have first hand experience of online abuse for daring to even mention I might have opinions; stupid little girl.

I also joined the Labour Party in early 2014 because despite having campaigned against Tony Blair’s policies on multiple occasions I saw an opportunity to be a part of an organisation that was founded on left-wing ideologies and may very well, with support, be able to provide a real alternative to the gruesome austerity measures put in place by the Conservative party. This was before Jeremy Corbyn was even nominated to run in the next year’s leadership election. That is not to say that my opinion as a member is of any more value than those who joined because of Corbyn; they too were inspired by the possibility of a political party, founded by trade unions (more cults?), that might once again defend the rights of the majority in the UK.

I never during any of this signed up to a cult. The very implication by mainstream media, where I expect to see intelligent discussion and diligent research being carried out, that I, and my friends and family are in fact members of a cult is insulting. It is in fact no better than the online hate spouted by faceless twitter eggs that they claim to scorn. Just because someone can turn a phrase, have a news outlet send them a cheque or has a million twitter followers does not make them exempt from being called out when they use derogatory rhetoric. It is an appalling excuse for journalism.

I look at those around me, like my mum and her friends, intelligent, kind people who I personally cannot ever express how grateful I am to for the parts they have played in my life, and then I look at the name calling being directed towards them and it makes me sad. Am I expected to not take it personally? And it is directed towards us; we are the hard left of the Labour Party if that is what you want to call us: we believe in the welfare state, liveable minimum wages, council housing, benefits for those who need them, the NHS, free education, free childcare, more jobs, better working conditions and progressive taxation; we oppose the acadamisation of schools, tax avoidance of the wealthy, the privatisation of the healthcare system, the bedroom tax, the discarding of student nursing bursaries, the slashing of disability benefits, fracking and countless other damaging right-wing policies. And we all voted for, and will vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

These are men and women who supported the miners’ strike, who fought for gender equality, for LGBTQ+ rights, who campaigned against the Iraq war, who have raised money for refugees, who fought the poll tax and the bedroom tax, who have knocked on doors during elections, handed out leaflets, organised hustings and engaged in both local and global politics their entire lives. These are people who raised me, who taught me kindness and showed me unconditional love and support. They are not an insignificant bunch of Corbyn fanatics. It is not the so called ‘cult’ of Jeremy Corbyn that has people engaging with the Labour Party on an exciting new level – it is the progressive, anti-austerity and anti-hate politics that he symbolises.

Continue to tell me I am not a decent person, that I am the member of a cult and an extremist, that I am stupid and incapable of making an informed decision. In the mean time I will continue to fight for a fairer and more tolerant country, one that mirrors the family I grew up with.

5 thoughts on “The Left-wing Labour Cult

  1. I saw Corbyn speak yesterday & I’m really glad I did because it helped me see that, although I do still have a few qualms about him, it’s more some of the support around him that bothers me than the man himself. I want a socialist government, and right now he’s the only one who is campaigning with those ideas & with a strong record of voting for those ideas. I think it’s extremely dismissive and patronising to say anyone who supports him is a ‘cultist’ or a ‘sheep’ or whatever, but there is a significant, and loud, section of his support which makes me deeply uncomfortable. If I ever say anything on the Internet even mildly critical of him (from a supporting place), I get random guys being very aggressive, dismissive & patronising for not supporting him, even though I am! Like, if I don’t treat him like the messiah, I’m a ‘traitor’ (and that momentum FB thing which posted pics of anti-Corbyn MPs with ‘traitor’ written over their faces, just weeks after Jo Cox was shot for being a ‘traitor’, was vile.) It feels like there’s an element of ‘cult of personality’ around him (though not coming from him in the way it comes from Trump) rather than purely a movement of ideas that he’s fronting at the moment. I think anyone who supports Corbyn is being lumped in with those people, which is not good, but I also think the campaign needs to move even more towards promoting ideas/specific policies, because right now those things are being lost amidst the ‘Corbyn the man’ stuff. Sorry, epically long comment! Basically, yes I agree & also support Corbyn, but there are some cult-y factions of his support which need to be addressed.


    • D I think it’s a personality type the support you speak of . When some one comes along after god knows how many years .And is then vilified and smeared for offering an alternative , some folks go on the ultra defensive . I do it my self with my football team , others with car marques . It’s a human trait to become over defensive against perceived bias against a thing that stirs feeling within you. Not a left/Corbyn problem . But a facet of the human emotional spectrum .


      • Absolutely it’s human to become defensive about something you care about, and I’m not saying it’s just a problem within Labour. However, it’s important, perhaps now more so than ever, to allow for nuance. It’s not helpful to have everything as such strict dichotomies – either you’re 100% Corbyn & never critical of anything about him, or you’re 100% against him & only critical, and that’s all that’s allowed. The aggression & dismissiveness on both sides of the debate is not okay. Everyone in the situation is an adult and capable of taking a moment to step back not immediately respond with ultra defence. For example, I made a comment “Corbyn needs to be more present & visible as leader of the opposition during moments like this” (re new PM, then Boris’ appointment). Two strangers then wrote a lot of replies basically telling me I was stupid & just another ‘brainwashed sheep’ that only cared about appearance/looks & the status quo. I mean…I don’t know where they got all that from with what I said, but it’s that sort of thing that puts people off engaging. And I think it’s important to be constructively critical of those you support, because no one is perfect & doing everything perfectly (whatever that means), and not allowing any constructive criticism is the thing that makes it seem culty.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s