Another definition of leadership which was posited on my Facebook thread was that a leader has followers. And, indeed, it’s hard to see how one can be a leader without followers. Perhaps I should clarify here that I am using the word ‘leader’ to mean a good or effective leader, someone who protects the group they are leading and effectively advances its vision or mission. Of which more later. As an aside, I should also mention here that there are many many people who have many many followers but who might not fall into the group of what we might call good or effective leaders. But maybe the Revererend Sun Myung Moon, to pick one such at random, is a model of modern leadership. Who am I to judge?
No matter. I digress. On the question of followers, there is absolutely no doubt that Jeremy Corbyn has many followers. Under his leadership membership of the Labour Party has ballooned, so that, at nearly half a million, it now outstrips the membership of all the other political parties put together. This is in many ways an excellent thing for a Labour Party which would otherwise be short of funds. However, this rise in membership did intrigue me, so I did a bit of digging (for which read “spent five minutes on Google”). There is not a lot of information available about the types of people who make up the current Labour Party membership, because the party does not publish it, but I did find these two pieces, which I find most interesting: this from The Guardian and this one from the New Statesman.
On the whole, it would seem that a lot of the new members of the party have come from the middle-classes, most of them educated, affluent (large numbers are home-owners or, one may guess, the children of home-owners), primarily professional, largely urban, with a disproportionate number in London. A number seem to be people who left after the Iraq War and have now rejoined. Corbyn is, in other words, reshaping the party in his own image.
More shortly, Nicky Smith..