Last Saturday, I went to the Momentum rally. We were told Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, was coming straight from Glasgow, from speaking at the memorial for Keir Hardie, founder of the party and our first member of parliament 132 years ago.
The square was filling up with the several thousand-strong crowd of supporters and interested passers by. Too distant from the podium to capture the warm-up speakers, I seemed mostly to sketch the backs of people’s heads.
I moved round to the other side to try to get closer but now was blocked from the speakers by the deaf translator in a check dress, signalling animatedly and passionately. The organiser tried to whip up religious passion, wanting us to sing “Jez we can” to the non-tune of the crowds’ chant “here we go”. Diverse though the crowd was in many respects, in this they were English to the core. She failed utterly. By contrast, my drawing lost all sense of proportion and the Sikh sound engineer appeared in my sketch to rise god-like from the masses.
Jeremy had arrived and was eventually allowed to speak. His voice keeps the same pleasant pitch and randomly rises and falls in volume, without obvious connection to the points he is making. He is the anti-demagogue, the opposite of populist, using his non-eloquent skills to provide a masterclass in un-rhetoric. He whips the crowd into an intense absence of frenzy. What comes across is an honesty, humanity and approachability that has us cheering every point.