WATCHING Channel 4 News last night, a reporter covering the General Election suddenly made what seemed a personal disclosure.
Doesn’t happen that often in these days of heavily choreographed news presentation, so my ears pricked up instantly.
“Jeremy Corbyn has attracted bigger crowds to his speeches than any British politician since Winston Churchill,” he said.
It wasn’t just the words, but the way he said them that interested me. For his tone was such he could easily have added one further word ‘why’.
That is a very good question and I will widen it a little.
Why does Jeremy Corbyn attract such remarkable support – and opposition?
I’m told the Daily Mail has devoted 14 pages today to what amounts to a personal attack on one sole politician.
Not even Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair in their primes attracted such a level of vitriol.
Closer to home, I doubt it’s possible to write 14 pages about Theresa May, so little do we really know about her.
We can rule out several possible explanations straightaway.
The love for Corbyn is little to do with his personal appearance, or even the fluidity of his speeches. If anything, he is often a little stuttering in his approach, often having to reach for water to clear his throat.
And, as his critics rightly point out, he is not necessarily a man of great personal charisma either – at least not in the sense that I understand the word.
The magnetism, or repulsion, depending on your political standpoint today lies both due to Corbyn’s message – and how he communicates
I’ll be honest most, if not all, politicians over the last 30 years have left me stone cold.
I’ve wavered from potential support for one main party, then the other – and invariably decided upon neither. I hadn’t voted since 1987 until I handed in my post vote a couple of days ago.
The reason was that nobody really ‘reached me’. I listened to the words, yes, but none felt as if they applied to me.
I regarded them as actors and actresses on the stage, posturing and going about their usual business but without the one quality guaranteed to change my opinion completely – heart.
We are surrounded by ‘head’ people. I’ve been one of them for many years. We present ourselves, speak and act by the book – more concerned with the reactions of others than being our real selves.
That’s natural, that’s life, it’s the way most keep their heads above water. Stroll into the office and tell your boss what you honestly think about him or her and the result wouldn’t be. Instead we get our heads down, say the ‘right things’ even though we don’t actually believe them and pick up the pay cheque at the end of the month.
Particularly as we have moved away from religion and spirituality in this country, we’ve become more scientific, logical, practical, some would say sensible in our approach.
Not for many, the ways of intuition, following your gut feelings, being prepared to take a chance, make a change, allowing for the possibility that things could go wrong.
Almost everything we consume through the media is communicated by ‘head’ people. It’s not just news presenters who go through the motions, it’s the VIPs they interview. Celebrities, sports people, certainly politicians, almost all repeat ‘head’ knowledge. Infact much media training aims to ensure the interviewee gives as little information as possible – certainly not about themselves.
When I listen to Corbyn, I don’t just hear something refreshingly different – I ‘feel’ different too.
I don’t mind disclosing that I’m often in tears, or close to tears, when he is in full flow.
Why? Because what he is saying is coming from the ‘heart’, not the ‘head’. I don’t need to ask myself whether he means what he is saying – I ‘know’ because he is communicating to my ‘heart’.
I have the same reaction to a few other folk too – I’m not suffering from some odd Corbyn bromance. It could be an ‘ordinary’ person telling his or her story on the radio, or a close friend talking with me face-to-face. Occasionally, just occasionally, they flip from speaking from the ‘head’ to the ‘heart’ and it’s game on. I know then that what they are now saying is real, rather than rehearsed; worth listening to, rather than yet more information set to go in one ear and out the other.
When people speak from the heart, they don’t necessarily seek to please whomever is listening. They just tell it as it is – an incredibly misused phrase these days!
They offend, certainly, but never seek to be cruel. They don’t have to raise their voices, but their words are sharp, a ‘dagger’ on occasions directly to the ‘heart’.
Corbyn naturally has his share of ‘head’ knowledge too. When I look at some of his policies, such as renationalising the railways, he’s coming from the pages of a socialist textbook rather than current reality.
But when he speaks of ‘fairness’, ‘equal opportunities’ and, yes, ‘peace’ – that’s when I believe he is scoring with and upsetting people on an almost unprecedented scale.
We are desperately in need of ‘heart surgery’.
Divided as rarely before, we live in a county where the ‘elite’, although extremely small in number, has ever more of our wealth. But, even more worryingly, those being plunged into poverty aren’t just the jobless and homeless but nurses and fellow professionals working round-the-clock but seemingly fighting a losing battle.
It’s not just unfair, it’s totally outrageous, yet ‘head’ knowledge urges us to hold onto the status quo.
For there are also many in the ‘middle’, neither rich, nor in poverty.
These are people generally doing ‘quite well’, at least by the way this materialist society judges itself. There’s little reason for these folk to rock the boat by risking change, it makes far more sense to get their heads down and play the game.
If it were merely the ‘elite’, the five per cent or fewer, who feared change because it might reduce their incomes, Corbyn’s mission would be easily accomplished.
But it’s the comfortable masses in the middle who actually hold the key to number ten.
Do they want to risk what could be the biggest shake up of British society in decades so soon after the amazing gamble of Brexit?
Many see Corbyn not as a source of hope, but a threat. Wrongly, I feel, they worry about whether they might lose out financially instead of looking over their shoulders at the folk who have nothing and are in desperate need of a lifeline.
Add in the smear campaign, based yet again today by hopelessly inaccurate and misleading narratives, and they have reason to remain in their ‘comfort zone’.
‘Head’ knowledge won’t drag Britain out of our current abyss. We can’t discuss or debate ourselves out of economic servitude, however many letters intelligent speakers have their names. For their message comes from the ‘head’ – never going close to the real problems in this society.
To change a system choking so many of us we need an extra dimension – the ‘will to change’ and that comes fairly and squarely from the ‘heart.
Don’t get me wrong the world won’t come to an end should the Corbyn haters get their way tomorrow just as it won’t turn instantly into a socialist paradise should he get into Downing Street.
But people like Jeremy Corbyn don’t come along very often – a man who speaks from the ‘heart’ and wants to make a difference.
Another 30 years could be too late for me – what about you?