I offer this story because something important is missing from Helen Lewis's largely okay analysis of Jeremy Corbyn's support. Part myth-buster, part explanation of what's driving 'enthusiastic Corbynism' (for want of a better phrase) Helen has performed a service for a Westminster-focused readership who range from critical to actively hostile toward all things Jez. And they need it because some of the establishment explanations of Corbynism doing the rounds would embarrass a 9/11 truth'er for their crudity and incredulity. What Helen's piece doesn't include (but doesn't, in principle, really exclude) is a sociological understanding of the movement and the social dynamics in play. Nor does it consider a fully thought through account of grievances.
The one group of members overlooked in nearly all dissections of Corbynism are the existing members switching from whoever they supported in 2015 to Jeremy. We're not talking people who joined to vote last summer and have stayed, but comrades who've knocked about the block ( as well as a few doors) and have served the party in various capacities. I know this party constituency exists because, a) I'm one of those people, and b) so are nearly all my comrades. I know folks who voted Andy, Yvette, and Liz last time who are all hitting the Corbyn button on this occasion. It's not that Jez has so much won them over, but rather the behaviour of his opponents have driven their support into the arms of his campaign. Jeremy hasn't attracted them - the political geniuses of core group hostile, you know, the people supposedly specialising in reaching out beyond bases and comfort zones, lost them.
It's not just the constant undermining and anonymous briefing in the press, though that has been disgraceful enough since day one. Nor is it necessarily even the most petty, pathetic, and mind-bendingly desperate criticisms ever to have gained circulation in the modern history of British political discourse. Nor the high-handed and haughty dismissal of members' views by MPs - you know who you are - stupidly and blindly inviting their own deselection. No, what has turned previous Corbyn-sceptics into people voting and supporting him is a protest against the gross, but so far failed, attempts at trying to stitch the party up. The attempted coup that wasn't failed because key PLP organisers were oblivious to a wider party beyond the green benches. The bureaucratic attempt to keep Jeremy off the leadership ballot, the court case that was absolutely nothing to do with them, the sudden and unexpected imposition of the six month rule and the £25 charge for supporter status available for two days only, and the disgraceful ban on all party meetings beyond leadership nominations are stark and very public manifestations of the party's historic culture of backroom chicanery. Everyone knows a story of a stitched shortlist here, an administrative suspension there, the "losing" of documents, the mysterious "dropping off" from party mailing lists, and a good proportion of long-term activists have either been party to them or copped it at the receiving end. To see this go on in a leadership contest as if there isn't a huge media spotlight beating down is as unconscionable as it is outrageous.
There are people who pretend that to care about the proper, democratic, and transparent functioning of the Labour Party is an illegitimate obsession. Especially when every spare hour should be spent campaigning and winning votes. Never mind that good internal democracy is the best way of giving intelligent and talented people whose skills go beyond back scratching a chance. The opposition to taking internal matters seriously is but a cynical veneer. They are even more obsessed with party management and factional advantage. The growing numbers of reluctant Corbynists know this, which makes their protest even more determined and a crushing victory for Jeremy more likely.
There are more reasons why I'm supporting Jeremy this time, but for the majority of reluctant Corbynism, an uncaring, selfish, stupid, and anti-democratic culture is enough for most to revolt. And to think, it could all have been very different had Jeremy's opponents eschewed smear, character assassination, and stitch-ups and gone down the route of political debate instead. Professional politicians indeed.