Today in a spirit of solidarity and political engagement I joined two new Facebook political forums. I am already a member of the 50+ Corbyn Supporters Group I today also joined, ‘We Are Labour’ and the ‘Labour Party Forum“.
To be honest my motives weren’t as pure as I have suggested. I had heard from various sources that these FB forums were very aggressively anti-Corbyn and I was intrigued to see what that meant in practice. So I enrolled to take a look.
A few hours after I joined We Are Labour a bloke called Jonathan Ainsworth posted the following:
(i) “From conversations I’ve had with people who voted for Corbyn I can start to see cracks in his support. The SWP mob who’ve joined the party will never change their views, however, a lot of established labour members who voted for JC because of the language he used at his meetings are starting to have serious doubts. What do you think we can do to get such members to move away from Corbyn? Would a page for ex Corbyn supporters be a good idea?”
I was in a state of shock to see this on such a forum so I felt obliged to challenge this Jonathan Ainsworth bloke, expressing the thought that it wasn’t very ‘Labour’ to so actively and publicly conspire to undermine the democratically leader of the party. I can of course no longer access my comment because I’ve been banned but it went something like this:
(ii) “I am shocked to see someone on a supposedly Labour Party supporting forum so openly plotting the downfall of the Labour Party leader so recently elected with the biggest majority of any political leader, from any political party in British political history. You Jonathan Ainsworth are not Labour. I don’t know what you are but you are not Labour.”
His reply was something like:
(iii) “Mustering as much respect I can to you Chris Jury, piss off!!!! I have been Labour all my life.”
I was going to reply something like:
(iv) “So your answer is to swear at me? Very civilised. The point I am making is that regardless of your years of service you are not currently showing loyalty to the Labour Party because the Labour Party has very emphatically expressed itself by the overwhelming vote for Corbyn as leader.”
But before I could post that second post I was banned from the forum on the basis of my initial post (i.e. (ii) above)! Now as Mr Ainsworth swore at me in (iii) above, I would hope he too has been ‘banned’ from the forum but I somehow think it unlikely.
So be warned, the We Are Labour FB forum, is an anti-Corbyn grouping that will NOT TOLERATE pro-Corbyn dissent. The good news is that the We Are Labour FB group has 248 members whereas the 50+ Corbyn Supporters Group alone has 2259 members and The Labour Party Forum has 23,000!
And moving on to the ‘Labour Party FB Forum’ my experience is so far, so good. There is a wide diversity of opinion expressed on the forum, from died in the wool, un-reconstituted, 1997, ‘Things can only get better’, Blairites, through to died in the wool, un-reconstituted, 1977, ‘Red Flag’ Old Labourites way to the left of Jeremy Corbyn. This is a good thing and much to be encouraged.
The debate on the forum from all sides is robust, sincere and passionate and as a result sometimes very uncomfortable to sit with, as people supposedly on the same side tear strips off each other. But to me that is no bad thing. The election of Corbyn as party leader is potentially a game-changing, truly momentous, event in British politics and the implications for all of us in the Labour Party have to be discussed openly.
So for what it is worth I would highly recommend the Labour Party FB Forum to all Party members from Blairites to Corbynistas and everyone beyond and in between.
My final observation is, that in general the anti-Corbyn voices on both these forums are far more strident, shrill and offensive than the pro-Corbyn voices. And I acknowledge that this is by necessity a generalisation. I am NOT saying all anti-Corbyn voices are strident, shrill and offensive nor that pro-Corbyn voices never are. But I AM saying that overall, in my limited experience so far, you are far more likely to read sneering, passive aggressive, and even straight forward aggressive, posts from anti-Corbyn voices than pro-Corbyn voices.
The anti-Corbyn voices don’t tend to swear often (excepting of course of Mr Ainsworth above), but they often sneeringly question the intelligence and/or sanity of Corbyn supporters and use other disrespectful rhetorical devices like sarcasm rather than addressing the issues. They also seem to equate being called right-wing or a Tory with a foul insult like calling someone a prick or a c**t. And of course we can all see where they are coming from on that one! (Sorry I couldn’t resist it). But they seem to think it is entirely rational and objective to sarcastically call Corbyn ‘the chosen one’ or our ‘divine leader’, or to call a supporter of Corbyn a Stalinist, a loony leftie or whatever. For example a few hours ago someone on The Labour Party Forum posted a link to a news item on N.Korea and asked if that was what all us Corbynistas wanted? A one-party, totalitarian state? So for supporting a moderate, reformist, parliamentarian arguing for a Keynsian mixed economy we are all totalitarian Commies!
The anti-Corbyn voices often seem to divisively accuse the Corbynistas of being divisive, to use inflammatory language to criticise other people’s use of language, and to equate any digression from their own views as aggression or bullying. It really is a very Orwellian situation where words like debate, democracy and unity, are used to mean exactly the opposite to what they are normally understood to mean i everyday usage. War is Peace and all that.
Anyhoo, it’s been a fascinating day that I wouldn’t have missed for the world. Onwards and up wards Comrades, we are Labour!