Daily they drop into my email account — alongside the more obviously useful stuff about how I might elongate my penis or ensure it performs with greater fortitude than at present, and the charitable offers from women who live ‘nearby your house, Roderick’ and apparently wish to test whether or not those previous solicitations I mentioned have been acceded to with success. Alongside all that stuff are the fecund exhortations from a bunch of online campaigning organisations. Click democracy, a sort of spastic form of activism whereby you stick it to da man simply by pressing a button. They come, these missives, from the likes of Change.org and 38 Degrees. Sometimes shrill, sometimes cloying, almost always stupid.
Click here to stop the Tories selling off our hospitals to their vile friends in the City. Click here to stop austerity right now. Click here to let everyone into the country and click here to stop us deporting Mohammed Jihadi al-Semtex, a really lovely bloke who somehow got stitched up by Cameron’s fascist goons. Oh, and the bees, the bees. The bees are dropping dead all over the place. Click here to save the bees. If you don’t save the bees your children will be next, etc. So click here. Put your name to the petition and make a bee happy today. It’s always from the maniacally obsessive, relentlessly involved liberal left, this stuff. Always. There is never a right-wing petition to be signed. You never get an offer which says ‘Click here to deport everyone and don’t let anyone else in’. Or ‘Click here to gas a badger’.
It was the same when Labour was in power, by the way — just in case you’re thinking that the one-sidedness of this activism is a function of us all writhing under the jackboot of a Tory government. There are no normal people at all in this online activism: normal people are all at work or down the pub. It is a tiny fraction of the population — I’d say much less than 0.5 per cent — and they are all psychotically furious about every-thing and think that you are scum. And they are winning.
I clicked once, incidentally — to my shame. Save the trees. Stop the Tories flogging off our woodlands to their vile friends in the City (who want the forests, I assume, to surround their recently acquired hospitals). I like trees, so I signed. I knew nothing whatsoever about the issues — what proportion of our woodlands were already in private hands, for example. But I signed — and reader, we won! The government dropped its plans to sell off the woodlands at least in part because of this petition containing the names of perhaps 150,000 pig-ignorant lefty click activists.
Believe me, they really are winning, these people. They have been empowered, you see. Vulnerable people who have been empowered. It may be that more than 99 per cent of the population disagrees with them and would like them to shut the fuck up because they are infantile and possibly mentally impaired. That doesn’t matter. He who shouts loudest wins. And they can shout.
What has happened in the Labour party is a microcosm of what is happening in society at large. The same people who wish to save the bees and halt the deportation of Mohammed Jihadi al-Semtex have been clicking away frantically in support of Jeremy Corbyn. And there is nothing the Labour party can do about it — because it was stupid enough to offer ‘membership’, and thus voting rights, for three quid to anyone who cared to sign up. Since it made this fatuous offer 42,550 people have joined.
A few hundred will have been those inspired by my colleague Toby Young’s mischievous and funny ‘Tories for Corbyn’ campaign. The rest are the mentals. Who else would join the party directly after its inept and staggeringly unsuccessful election campaign? Only the gibbering perpetual adolescents of the click-activism left. 42,550! About half as many as signed that save the bees petition. A huge number for the Labour party, but a drop in the ocean when matched against those who might vote for it.
Last week I met a woman who told me she had voted for Corbyn in the leadership campaign. She was a member of Southall Black Sisters — an organisation for which I have enormous, unfathomable respect, of course. Interested, I asked her what branch of the party she was in, as I am a Labour party member myself and enjoy jabbering about internecine Labour affairs, even with those who are likely to be my enemy. Branch? What do you mean, branch? I’m not in a branch, she said. I joined in order to vote for Corbyn. Paid her three quid, clicked in the relevant box and will presumably have no further association with the party.
I’ve had similar conversations with people on Facebook, all members of the ‘Jez We Can’ brigade who joined solely to foist the idiot upon us all. One of them even expressed disgust that I was allowed to vote, being a fascist — yeah, fair point. I’ve only been in the party since 1979 and spent all those hours leafleting and canvassing and sitting in horrible, badly ventilated rooms trying to stop my ward from endorsing Benn or Livingstone or, indeed, Corbyn. And paying my £13 a month subs.
Good, you might be thinking: you reap what you sow. The party deserves Corbyn. Well, point taken — perhaps we do deserve the bloke. But the movement which is about to foist Corbyn on the Labour party is the same one that bullies the rest of the country and actually manages to change government policy, despite being minuscule in number. It punches above its weight to an extraordinary degree. It is akin to the rest of us being governed by the green-ink brigade, the people who would write to newspapers convinced that there was a conspiracy behind everything. Well, the green-ink brigade is now running the show. Thank you, the internet.
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