Like a footballer returning to Wembley with the World Cup, Jeremy Corbyn entered Parliament Tuesday, after losing an election, to the strains of stadium style chanting of the White Stripes “Seven Nation Army”, chanting his name. For the record, the White Stripes are the last real rock and roll band to chart anything, let alone seize popular music across the Atlantic in a way that would land that one tune into every stadium in the world. Jezza’s an Arsenal fan.
The Rolling Stone, rock and roll’s magazine of record, has a headline today reading “Goodbye, and Good Riddance, to Centrism”, but somehow misses the White Stripes angle. Matt Taibi, heir to Hunter S. Thompson, nonetheless is precise.
Our media priesthood reacted with near-universal horror at the election in Britain. We panned the result in which Labour, led by the despised Corbyn, took 261 seats and won 40 percent of the vote, Labour’s largest share since hallowed third-way icon Tony Blair won 40.7 percent in 2001.
Blair never had a football chant, let alone the White Stripes. He had Mr. D:Ream. Things can only get better. What better rock and roll writers might later categorize as the latest in “beige” brit pop, Blair’s victory song was a kind of pointless dance floor number that felt good at a rally. It all felt so real.
I never actually met Jeremy Corbyn. In three general elections, I met Tony Benn, Dennis Skinner, some other pretty hard core Old Labour grandees, but Corbyn never crossed my New Democrat Clintonian Third Way Blairite clique. We’d “hear” of Corbyn’s latest escapade, somewhere out at some protest with Ken Livingstone & George Galloway, list your favorite lefty caricature. Especially during Iraq.
Corbyn was not in the garden at Number 10 for the East Midlands Labour Party’s reception after the commons Iraq vote, at which I shook Tony Blair’s hand and said, “as the one American here, I want to say thank you.” Tony said “Thank you,” back, very sincerely. Jeremy Corbyn was never at the Strangers bar in the House of Commons yucking it up with the back benchers. Jeremy was the back of the backest bench.
Now, Jezza gets the best of all worlds. Doesn’t have to govern, has chants descend upon him, an army on the march singing the whole way, and can sit tight, to watch the Tories consume themselves. This, after two years of hand to hand trench warfare within the Labour Party descended upon Corbyn out of nowhere in spring, 2015. Before his name even was floated, I observed New Labour make its last fatal grasp at the neoliberal straws Taibi’s headline celebrates as over. Now, Corbyn has a White Stripes chant, in the House of Commons, and I suspect the Strangers Bar has a new regular. That’s where losers get a pint.