Celebrating the red dawn among the Corbynistas of north London

There wasn’t much time for the hopey-changey stuff while there was a chance to be vile about the Tories

19 September 2015

8:00 AM

19 September 2015

8:00 AM

‘Jeremy Corbyn night’ at the Forum in Kentish Town on Monday should have been a scene of orgiastic pleasure for socialist Labour. Corbyn’s victory was the triumph the grand old reactionaries of north London have been waiting a generation for. But they weren’t happy; they were as angry and full of bile as ever.

The scene took me right back to my childhood in Islington in the 1970s. My neighbours in the queue outside the Forum had posher voices than you hear at Annabel’s. The smart greybeards from the £2 million villas of Kentish Town and Islington were joined by a new generation of under-thirties: white, university-educated, also with upmarket voices. And how they lapped up the tide of anger pouring from the stage. The comedian Arthur Smith celebrated the day Margaret Thatcher died, to cheers from the audience, and quoted Jack Dee — ‘The Russians, they knew how to treat the royal family.’ He went on to describe the traditional Tory fire drill in a crowded building — ‘Run for the door and trample over everyone else.’

Brian Eno, formerly of Roxy Music, mixed sanctimony with unpleasantness. He told us how he started writing left-wing protest letters decades ago because so few people write them, ‘unless they’re nutters from the right’. Does he ever read the Guardian letters page? Eno argued that Corbyn’s victory wasn’t enough. The left had to keep on fighting for the cause — something they don’t naturally tend to do, because they’re ‘nice’ and aren’t ‘permanently bitter’; because they like doing interesting things and ‘have girlfriends’. The implication was clear — lefties are lovely, caring people, unlike those nasty nerdy Tories. The comedian Francesca Martinez did more than imply, in her skit on the Tories’ ‘smarmy c*** gene’.

Jeremy Corbyn was unable to make the evening himself but he did send a message, saying his campaign was one ‘of hope and optimism’. Well, there wasn’t much evidence of either on stage at the Forum. It was like going back to the 1980s and watching a series of elderly figures imitating Rick from The Young Ones. Other principal hate targets included Tony Blair — Arthur Smith had a line on him dressing up as Batman at a Chipping Norton fancy-dress party, being ‘sucked off by Rebekah Brooks’. David Cameron got another dose of bile for his smooth ‘public-school skin’, as Smith mused on what his testicles were like — ‘quail’s eggs wrapped in silk’.

The Daily Mail was another safe public enemy at the Forum. And not just the Mail. Sara Pascoe, a comedian, reached new heights of sanctimony, saying, ‘Sorry if you’re a journalist, but you should get a nicer job.’

Where was all the hopey-changey stuff? The new red dawn; the glorious revolution ushered in by Jeremy? Well, there wasn’t much time for that, not while there was still a chance to be vile about the Tories.

There’s the same approach in a new ebook, Poets for Corbyn, crammed with hate-filled poems. ‘Wongawongaland’ — by a poet called Tom Pickard — centres around an evil Tory, ‘Doctor Gobbles’. And here is ‘Corbyn’ by Ernest Schonfield, a lecturer in German at the University of Glasgow.

So I can vote for Corbyn

Because I’m sick of New Labour bullshit

and I can’t wait to see the look

on war criminal Tony Blair’s face

when they elect a decent man

of principle and integrity

rather than some Tory-lite twat!

How I feel for the undergraduates reading German at Glasgow University if this is the best their lecturer can do.

Left-wing hatred isn’t a new thing. Who can forget Polly Toynbee’s 2001 attack on Auberon Waugh and his fellow conservative writers two days after he died: ‘Effete, drunken, snobbish, sneering, racist and sexist, they spit poison at anyone vulgar enough to want to improve anything at all.’

In that same article, Toynbee said that Boris Johnson, then editor of this magazine, had asked her to write a piece about why the right is so nasty and why liberals are on the whole nicer — ‘His idea and something he disarmingly thought true: good medicine for his complacent readership, he said.’ Toynbee refused; she didn’t want to write for a right-wing magazine where politics was ‘just an Eton Wall Game between left/right tribes’.

Much as I revere Boris, I think he got it wrong. Of course, there are lots of nice people on the left and lots of unpleasant people on the right. But not as many right-wingers go in for ad hominem attacks as their opponents on the left do.

Why should this be so? The sanctimony comes from the idea that the left are goodies; the right baddies. There’s a sort of logic to it: the left, in a romantic, altruistic way, want to take from the rich to give to the poor; the right, in a hard-headed, cold way, point out that it just won’t work in the end. Warmed by this bath of all-round niceness to the world at large, the left feel entitled to be rude to individuals. The right — apologetic about their cool pragmatism — feel less entitled to make personal attacks.

Left-wing rage derives from frustration at not being in power — which they feel is their rightful position thanks to moral superiority. Thus Polly Toynbee’s marvellous self-regard in her column last month: ‘If being right was all it took to win elections, the Tories wouldn’t be in power.’

You could see the same frustration at the Forum. Yes, the Corbynistas were delighted their man had become Labour leader; but even their greatest optimists know it’s an uphill struggle for him to reach No. 10. Still, their nastiness on Monday night can only be partly explained by sanctimony and rage. It was also just pure nastiness.

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Show comments
  • WFB56

    No writers in the Spectator, and certainly not Boris Johnson, should be feeding the lie that the left are “nicer”. The policies of the so-called “right”, in reality just advocates of free markets, have done more to improve the lives of people around the world than any wooly headed Islington politician or musician. By contrast those pursuing the policies of the left, socialism or communism, have killed, enslaved and robbed more people of human dignity than any other system, inluding feudalism.

    The moral high ground isn’t to be found in Islington.

    • Peter Stroud

      My impression of the article was that it did reveal the nastiness of the Left. Especially that part of the Left, inhabited by rich, well educated types: perhaps typified by the likes of Poly Toynbee and Owen Jones.

      • The Buttscratcher Jimmy

        Owen Jones and Polly are prime examples that having an Oxbridge education doesn’t prevent you from being a clueless fuckwit.

        • Frank Marker

          As someone had in his Debrett entry: Education: On the Long Vac from Balliol.

        • Charles Windsor

          Polly doesn’t have an Oxbridge education – she flunked out of her first year.
          How either of them got in in the first place is a mystery though.

          • John C.

            Toynbee- the name, dear boy, the name.

    • Teacher

      I completely agree with this. My experience of being with left wing people recently is that they are angry, envious, resentful, jealous and bitter and, while exuding a sense of smug superiority, are actually ill informed, unselfknowing, deluded, ignorant, emotive, irrational and without manners. But maybe that’s a bit of over generalisation.

      • Walt

        No, it isn’t. I know a guy in his late 20s from rather privileged background who left the Labour party because it was not left enough. Its crime? Not offering him unlimited free university studies since he had no intention ever seeking a job. Nut cases wherever you look.

        • Leon Wolfeson

          So, you talk about yourself…

      • Leon Wolfeson

        So, you don’t know any lefties…

        • Dave Roberts

          Keep taking your medication Leon.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            I run the steroid cream *on* the small patch of eczema.

            Anything else you care to be wrong about?

    • John C.

      But it’s not what you do but how you feel with these lefties. Their politics is nearly all touchy-feely, self-admiring, posturing.
      In my career I have met many people who you can roughly describe as “left” and “right”, and almost without exception the most helpful and genuine were on the right. Lefties were perpetually emoting and admiring themselves in a virtual mirror:” I’m so caring, look at me”.

      • Frank Marker

        I agree. In my previous employ I attended a number of union meetings in rooms above pub. They were just so depressing, full of dreary and colourless people who lacked any warmth at all.
        I think the excuse they would use for their boorish behaviour would be something like. “Yeah, well. What you have to understand comrade is that good manners are a right-wing construct, used to keep the masses in their place”.

        • Leon Wolfeson

          Psst, Management are not Unions.

          • Frank Marker

            When I was in my last job I was in a union.
            Psst, now please go away.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Ah you lost your job AND your union membership? What did you do!

            And now you want no other views near you, as you’re on the rebound from your getting fired. My!

    • Leon Wolfeson

      No, Capitalism is a leech and distortion on the market. Really, it’s tired, as your Tories keep poverty rising. As you blame the left for everything, of course. As you make excuses for the looting of the 3rd world, make excuses for ATOS, etc.

      The moral high ground is not yours, and your dislike of the 99%.

      • smeged34

        The only ‘high ground’ that you odious lefties really care about are the platforms and soap boxes from where you can sing your own praises and pat yourselves on the back for being ‘so progressive, yah’. You couldn’t give a toss about the 99%, you just use them in your rhetoric in some weird attempt to make yourselves appear enlightened and benevolent.
        I’ve got news for you my friend; there are those of us on the right that are in that 99%, some of us who don’t have a pot to p*ss in but still grasp the concept that hard work and determination are going to get us where we want to go in life, not sitting in echo chambers whinging and singing songs about politicians we don’t like. Your lot don’t speak for me or my friends.

  • Frank Marker

    Humpf. What I object to in this article is Arthur Smith being described as a ‘comedian’.

    • A Free Man

      Well it begins with ‘c’ but it has fewer letters…

      • Frank Marker

        ‘Gareth Hunt’ perhaps?

      • Icebow


      • Frank Marker

        He just reminds me of some old bore down the pub who everyone drives to avoid.

        • Allow me ~to show you a fantastic ways to earn a lot of extra dollars by finishing basic tasks from your house for few short hours a day — See more info by visiting >MY_DISQUS_PROFILE

    • Man on the Clapham omnibus

      I can’t see why anyone in their right mind would inflict such an evening on themselves. The only half sane thing was – ‘Sorry if you’re a journalist, but you should get a nicer job.’

      • Frank Marker

        They really are a dreary lot.

  • poverty denier

    Jeremy Corbyn demonstrates how a nation does not require a leader to deliver on policies. The nation requires people to deliver them.

  • John Andrews

    Can we find a substitute for the too-cuddly ‘lefties’? ‘Taxers’? ‘Spongers’? ‘Gripers’?

  • Tamerlane

    Such delightful people. Give them all the rope they need.

    PS -Sara Pascoe comedienne? In what universe? She’s another Beeb parasite.

    • SonOfGud

      excruciatingly unfunny standup routine

    • Les

      Be careful folks. Tammy is a Nazi apologist who thinks Hitler was misunderstood.

      • Tamerlane

        Lol. I’m sure they’re all treading carefully now Yvonne/Barry. Magic!

        • Les

          You and Jimmy Savile ,found out.

          • Tamerlane

            Icky. Even by your standards.

    • Frank Marker

      Having never heard the delightful Ms Pascoe before reading this article I thought I would see for myself what her act was like. The clip I saw of her playing the Edinburgh Cringe was enough for me to agree with your analysis.

    • Leon Wolfeson

      Ah yes, hanging, your first thought, as you hate on the BBC. And many of the British.

      • Tamerlane

        Blahdy blahdy blah.

        • Leon Wolfeson

          So, no actual rebuttal then.

          • Tamerlane

            Yakkety yakkety yak…

          • Leon Wolfeson

            You prove my point, with added Yak-breath.

          • The Mayor of Trumpton

            Brilliant. Incisive. Nitwit.

      • Tamerlane

        Blah blah blah…

        • Leon Wolfeson

          So, no dispute then.

  • Dogsnob

    Corbyn is Labour’s lonely treat – its indulgent purchase. It knows it can’t even dream of having a leader who will take them towards power, so it opts for something silly, comforting and naughty.
    Corbyn is a Walnut Whip.

    • Leon Wolfeson

      So you think you can polymorph people into deserts. Oh dear.

      As you try and speak for Labour. Despite not knowing a thing about it.

      • Dogsnob

        If we can’t speak of people through images, then we are partly blinded. Perhaps you think that a restriction worth making?
        I don’t speak for Labour, I speak about them and I do know a thing or two about them.

        • Leon Wolfeson

          And only that thing or two, it appears.

          And no, I’m just mocking your silly little image. If anything, Corbyn is the one who’d be on the end of the whip. (And no, I’m not sorry for *that* disturbing mental image, heh)

          • Dogsnob

            Do you know what a Walnut Whip is?

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Yes, hence my mocking.

          • Dogsnob

            Good luck with your new project-leader.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            And good luck with your new fish.

          • Dogsnob

            Tah. Just while you’re here: could you tell me which bit I don’t understand about Labour?
            You see, I voted them in, in ’97, only for them to sit round a table and plan how they could ‘rub the right’s nose in multiculturalism’. They decided they could do it by a programme of mass-immigration, regardless of the long-term consequences brought to bear on the well-being and security of our society.
            Am I missing something which would make me return to the fold?

          • Leon Wolfeson

            So, you’re a North Korea fan. As you blame the Other for your far right’s violence, of course. Those problematic, say. Jews (to pick the first target of the far right) – so detrimental, blah blah.

            You are obviously a far right voter, and always have been. Labour | National Front.

          • Dogsnob

            You’re disappearing behind a bit of a smoke-screen there. No surprise.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            So, you’ve thrown a smoke screen.
            As it’s yours, why would you be surprised?

          • Dogsnob

            If stated clearly the salient points of my argument. You’ve responded with obtuseness.

          • Leon Wolfeson

            “I” stated, yes?

            As you reject my answer on ideological grounds, I see. Anything but read and think!

          • Dogsnob

            I haven’t rejected anything. I’ve offered points of argument and what you have resorted to is wild, unfounded speculation.
            So, there’s another invitation.

          • oldoddjobs

            Everyone to your right is “far right”

          • Leon Wolfeson

            Thanks for your PC bigotry, though.

          • oldoddjobs

            You’re welcome

          • Leon Wolfeson

            You say that like it’s a good thing… (ps, sarcasm)

    • greencoat

      That’s right. It’s a kind of ‘scweam and scweam until I’m thick’ moment.

      • Dogsnob

        The very one!

  • King Zog

    I’d like to see Brian Eno fight Bryan Ferry.

    • Frank Marker

      Both togged out in their early 70’s glam rock gear. My money would be on Bryan.

  • New Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, in earlier years demonstrating (pun intended) the
    Marxist tactic called the ‘Scissors Strategy’ (click picture for updated photo of Corbyn).

    • Scylla

      Errr…never mind.

      • “Errr…never mind.”

        It’s impossible that you can’t get the meaning of the following proofs…

        ‘When Soviet citizens were liberated from up to 74 years of horrific Marxist oppression on December 26, 1991 there were ZERO celebrations throughout the USSR, proving (1) the ‘collapse’ of the USSR was a strategic ruse; and (2) the political parties of the West were already co-opted by Marxists, otherwise the USSR (and East Bloc nations) couldn’t have gotten away with the ruse.’


        ‘…the ‘freed’ Soviets and West also never (1) de-Communized the Soviet Armed Forces of its Communist Party officer corps, which was 90% officered by Communist Party members; and (2) arrested/de-mobilized the 6-million vigilantes that assisted the Soviet Union’s Ministry of the Interior and police control the populations of the larger cities during the period of ‘Perestroika’ (1986-1991)!’


        ‘The West never verified the collapse of the USSR because no collapse occurred, since if a real collapse had occurred the West would have verified it, since the survival of the West depends on verification. Conversely, this proves that the political parties of the West were co-opted by Marxists long before the fraudulent collapse of the USSR, since the survival of the West depends on verification.’

        The photographic proof…

        A Pictorial Presentation Of The Fraudulent Collapse Of The USSR…

        (1) The Emblem of the Soviet Union atop the Russian State Duma building…


        Notice that the State Emblem of the Soviet Union is illuminated at night for clear viewing by Muscovites…


        …however the coat of arms of the Russian Federation, situated above the door between the fourth and fifth floors, isn’t illuminated, though either side of the heraldic design is illuminated for no apparent purpose other than to highlight the heraldic design’s obsolescence.

        (2) High atop the facade of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs building, the State Emblem of the Soviet Union is Illuminated with pinpoint precision at night…


        (3) The State Emblem of the Soviet Union atop the Russian Ministry of Defense building, including other Soviet era iconography…


        (4) Soviet Red Stars atop Kremlin towers remain where Stalin placed them in 1935…


        (5) Moscow’s Central Post Office employees are still in the dark as to the ‘collapse’ of the USSR in late 1991..


        Why, you ask? Click the following link for the answer…


        (6) Headquarters of the Russian Federal Security Service, and the Soviet Union’s security service, the KGB…


        Note the State Emblem of the Soviet Union still over the main door (click picture to enlarge), and hammer and sickle logo still above the clock. And here’s the Lubyanka at nightime…


        Note illumination of hammer & sickle, and enhanced illumination of area above the main door, where the office of the KGB chief was located (third floor).

        (7) Satellite image of the Volga River cities of Engels, (right), and Saratov (left)…


        Engels Air Force Base is east of Engels city, where the two long parallel lines are located…


        Notice that Engels city and adjacent air base were named after Marxist “hero” Friedrich Engels, but the names were never changed after Russians were “liberated” from Soviet tyranny in December 1991 with the ‘collapse’ of the USSR.

        (8) The province of Leningrad Oblast is still named in honor of the great Russian persecutor (and Marxist “hero”), who despised and cruelly stamped out Russian culture…


        (9) The province of Kaliningrad Oblast is still named after Marxist “hero” Mikhail Kalinin, nominal head of the USSR, 1922-1946…


        (10) Red Star, the Official newspaper of the Soviet Union’s Ministry of Defense…


        Note the Soviet era title (Red Star) and the four Soviet emblems (representing awards) to the left of the masthead, the outer emblem displaying Vladimir Lenin. Now, click the following link to view the official newspaper of the Russian Ministry of Defense…


        The newspaper is still called Red Star(!) and still has the four Soviet emblems with Vladimir Lenin still present!

        (11) Soviet roundel still on Russian military aircraft…


        (12) Soviet era Communist emblem (the Soviet red star) still attached to the bows of Russian naval vessels…


        (13) The hated hammer & sickle logo still used by Aeroflot, purpose being to remind Russians when they travel abroad to be careful what they say to foreigners concerning the ‘collapse’ of the USSR and who’s still in control of the ‘former’ USSR…


        (14) The brigades of the Armed Forces of Ukraine never destroyed their detested Soviet banners, nor did Kiev order the armed forces to destroy the reviled Soviet era banners …


        …and the left side of the Soviet banner…


        • Frank Marker

          Riveting stuff. Not sure I would want to be trapped on a desert island with you though.

          • “Riveting stuff.”

            “Riveting”? “Stuff”? Boy, Ripley was right about plunging IQs!

          • Frank Marker

            Who was it who said ‘He could bore for England”? Or is it the USA in your case? Are you on medication or do you just need a girlfriend? Actually cut the medication. You could possibly be suffering psychotic side-effects from too much of it? I actually think conspiracy theorists add to the general joy of the world. But in your case, well….. Walks away shaking his head.

          • “Are you on medication…”

            I took the red pill Morpheus offered me, which allows me to see a picture of Lenin’s head and four Soviet nationality emblems next to the masthead of the Russian Ministry of Defense’s official newspaper, which is STILL called “Red Star”…


            I’m also now capable of seeing the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’s emblem–the distinctive Soviet Red Star emblem–still on Russian military aircraft and naval vessels…



            I also see the thousands of hated statues to Lenin still standing in Russian cities, towns and villages…


            The red pill also allows one to comprehend the meaning of the following…

            ‘The West never verified the collapse of the USSR because no collapse occurred, since if a real collapse had occurred the West would have verified it, since the survival of the West depends on verification. Conversely, this proves that the political parties of the West were co-opted by Marxists long before the fraudulent collapse of the USSR, since the survival of the West depends on verification.’


            When Soviet citizens were liberated from up to 74 years of horrific Marxist oppression on December 26, 1991 there were ZERO celebrations throughout the USSR, proving (1) the “collapse” of the USSR was a strategic ruse; and (2) the political parties of the West were already co-opted by Marxists, otherwise the USSR (and East Bloc nations) couldn’t have gotten away with the ruse.

            Would you like me to ask Morpheus to contact you, so that you too may take the red pill and disconnect yourself from the Matrix?

            “I actually think conspiracy theorists add to the general joy of the world.”

            Your education was misspent, Comrade! Next time learn the difference between a “theory” and “fact”, since my observations are all based on FACTS, not conjecture.

          • Frank Marker

            You are that grassy knoll and I claim my ten guineas.

          • “Mr Dean Jackson you are that grassy knoll and I claim my ten guineas.”

            You’re embarrassing yourself, Comrade! You refuse to stick to the subject at hand because it’s a losing proposition for a Marxist to do so, so you divert away to another subject, a subject, by the way, that EVERYONE knows Oswald was used as the fall guy. Not even low IQ individuals buy the laughable Warren Commission’s conclusions.

            Next time use the UFO diversion. That’s always a winner. Or Big Foot.

  • King Zog

    The degree to which I trust any political group or organisation tends to be in inverse proportion to its interest in flags.

    • Frank Marker

      Yes what is that flag the ‘sister’ is waving? It certainly isn’t in My Observer Book of Flags.

      • King Zog

        Initially I thought it was the LGBT ‘rainbow’ flag, but looking closer it doesn’t seem to be. Looks like the yin-yang symbol in the centre, which is on the South Korean flag, but it’s not that.

      • evad666

        I could not see it on Fun with Flags has anyone got an idea?

        • Frank Marker

          I imagine it will be included on the ‘Flags of the World incorporating LLBGT Banners’ poster that will be hanging on the walls of every Islington classroom by 2016.

  • King Zog

    I’d love to attend one of these events wearing my ironic ‘Tory Scum’ t-shirt.

  • Kasperlos

    The political game attracts narcissists and psychopaths. People who have and do not have money and yearn for power, perks, privilege and the right to lord over the lives of their fellows. They wish to live a charmed life whilst dispensing tyranny. There’s the psychopathic connection. Corbyn’s world views? Does he include Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin et al as mentors?

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Red Dawn, great movie. Providing you disconnect your logic circuits.

    • King Zog

      John Milius, underrated writer and director. And conservative.

  • So Brian Eno is a first-class ungrateful uneducated falsely self-regarding twit, while Bryan Ferry remains a first-class freedom-loving democrat. Now we all know.

  • evad666

    Orwells animal farm ends with the pigs wlaking on their back legs selling off the working class animals.
    Has anyone in islington read when the Kissing has to stop?

  • Leftyliesrefuted

    Excellent piece. Just one bit I disagree with:

    ” … even [the Corbynistas’] greatest optimists know it’s an uphill struggle for [Corbyn] to reach No. 10.”

    Uphill struggle? That man will be lucky to be Labour Leader by May 2020. Well, actually, he’ll be unlucky if he’s still Labour Leader then, because if he is he will be crushed in the General Election. “No. 10” will be closer to the number of seats he wins than to the address in Downing Street.

  • andy_gill

    A very good piece which accurately portrays the stinking underbelly of the British left. Smug, self-righteous sentimental pricks, not half as clever as they think, and devoid of any sense of decency or genuine human warmth.

  • Scylla

    ‘Centres on’ or ‘revolves around,’ but surely not ‘centres around.’

  • daviejohn

    Spectator has some great articles today, well done team.

  • TheJustCity

    For someone who’s capitalised on the fakery of chillout or ambient music, Eno twitches in a noticeably unchilled way if you mention the word ‘Israel’. A very creepy individual.

    • King Zog

      Indeed. There is something decidedly creepy about him. And the smugness… ugggh…

  • Frank Marker

    ‘Quoted Jack Dee’. I really never thought I would ever hear that. To think it used to be people like Shaw, Wilde, Whistler, Churchill or Orwell who people quoted. But Jack Dee? Standards have indeed dropped.

  • Partner

    Readers posts in the Guardian are indeed distorted by hate and bile. and the horrible thing is they can’t see it because they have a quasi religious belief that they are objectively ‘correct ‘and therefore anyone who disagrees is evil.

  • Ken Mckenzie

    Och Harry get over yourself
    Yes Islington Leftists are a bunch of t***s BUT so are most Tory toffs
    Concentrate on arguing policy & ideas and keep out of the culture wars

  • SchtenGraby

    Is there something in the old adage about people from the right having unpleasant views, but being pleasant people and vice versa?

  • davidshort10

    The only thing funny about Arthur Smith is his silly accent. Without the BBC, he and many others would be on the dole.