Jeremy Corbyn’s election as the leader of Britain’s Labour Party has generated what seems an unprecedented level of coverage, both in the mainstream and social media. It builds on an election campaign in which thousands turned out to hear this supposed “Loony Lefty” speak.
Yesterday Corbyn faced his first “Prime Minister’s Questions”. His approach differed in two ways from what we have experienced before. First, he said he was going to go about the process “in a more adult way than it’s been done in the past.” Second, he chose to make the process more “democratic” by asking the public what they would like to ask the Prime Minister. He received 40,000 suggestions.
When asked how it felt in the House of Commons Jo Coburn, seasoned co-host of the BBC’s Daily Politics programme, said:
“Extraordinary, actually. I literally got the last seat in the House.
I have never seen the chamber so packed, to the rafters. On the public gallery side, on the press gallery side, and most definitely within the chamber itself.
It was also completely different to any other PMQs I’ve watched in the sense that there was so much anticipation.” [emphasis added]
What is going on?
First, as an unknown outsider thrust suddenly into a position of power, our minds are working overtime to decide whether Jeremy Corbyn represents an opportunity for us or a threat.
Second, he is making that difficult for us to decide by behaving differently from what we are used to. He is engaging in the political process at a cultural level, changing not only what gets talked about but also how it gets talked about. He is showing as much as telling the change he wants to see. That may simply be because he is an “outsider”, different. Or it may all be part of his cunning plan. Or both. Either way it affects us at an unconscious level, heightening the sense of opportunity or threat we feel.
And third, we see it but we do not understand it. We make sense of what we see based on our own world-views rather than the reality of Mr Corbyn. When you ask two people what happened yesterday you get two different answers. One reviewer saw “Cameron Flounders As Corbyn Turns PMQs Into The People’s Question Time. Another saw only “gesture politics… [lacking] rigorous, detailed queries.” People are ‘projecting’ their emotions on to him, seeing what they want to see. The result is an atmosphere in which the House of Commons is “packed” with anticipation, and whether or not he sings a song can become a matter for frenzied response.
What Mr Corbyn himself thinks he is doing, and what he actually stands for, only he knows. It will become clear over time.
In the meantime, being on the receiving end of so many projections and misinterpretations can only increase the levels of stress and churning he may be experiencing.
This means that for Jeremy Corbyn, as for all of us, the number one priority is to ignore all the interpretations being made by other people, both positive and negative. To ignore all commentary on what he is doing, why, and what he should be doing instead.
His number one priority, as for all leaders in a time of churning, is to centre and ground and deepen his connection with what he knows is important and what he is going to do about it.
Then he can decide when and in what ways he will leave us with our own projections, or change them.
Chapter 1 of inner leadership contains tools to help you centre, ground, and connect deeply with who you are and what matters most to you.
Chapter 2 contains tools to help you make sense of the situation, removing the mis-blinks and projections that we all sometimes make, and accessing the power of your unconscious mind to help address the issues you face.