This seems to be something that socialist parties worldwide are particularly susceptible to (notwithstanding the Tory Party’s veneration of the late Lady Thatcher) and it looks as if the British Labour Party are no exception. Now don’t get me wrong; I like Jeremy Corbyn. He’s a man of sincerely held and deeply felt principles, a few of which I happen to agree with. However, aside from the Parliamentary Labour Party, who apparently can’t stand him, the grassroots Labour Party seem to be falling into the same trap.
The Cult of the Leader is well known in socialist circles, none more so perhaps than Stalin in the 1930s, when history was rewritten to portray him in a better light. From Fidel Castro in Cuba and Mao Zedong in China through to Enver Hoxha in Albania and Kim Jong Un in North Korea, the socialist leader has encouraged his very own personality cult in the event of gaining – and retaining – absolute power. It may be something to do with totalitarian states – of which all of the above were to a greater or lesser degree – but it does seem to fly in the face of the central tenets of socialism.
And I’m afraid that Corbyn does seem to be encouraging it, which surprises me as I had thought he was a better politician than that. Has his taste of power as Leader of the Opposition affected his principles, I wonder? And would it affect Owen Smith, much less of a traditional socialist than his incumbent colleague, should he win the leadership contest?
It really is a peculiar phenomenon though. No wonder I’m no longer a party member; I’m not sure I could resist taking the mickey.