Politics

What's It Like to Be Called 'Corbyn' in the Age of Corbyn-mania?

There are a surprising number of Absolute Boys sharing a name with Labour's leader.
July 10, 2017, 7:45am
(Ben Birchall/PA Wire/PA Images)

The Mirror recently published the results of a survey suggesting that 50 percent of new parents "would consider" naming their baby Corbyn – reflecting the rising popularity of Labour's leader, arguably the current Prime Minister, Jeremy Corbyn. The article contains what I thought was a very sweet request: asking for people who had named a child Corbyn to get in touch. 'What on earth are they going to do with that information?' I thought, 'Compile a comprehensive survey of what it's like to be called Corbyn in the age of Jezza?' Oh.

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I managed to find an improbable number of people called Corbyn, between the ages of six and 28. I asked them about how their life has changed now that someone with their name has risen to the status of social-democratic demigod and the nation's benevolent allotment tending grandpa.

Corbyn Jones is 19 and replied within seconds of receiving my message. He told me that he was named after the actor Corbin Bernsen, and that his mum picked the name while watching the credits roll after an episode of LA Law. This is the only kid in the country who can possibly have been named after someone from LA Law, I thought to myself. I was sadly mistaken.

Corbyn admitted to me that he had lied about his name as a child, as other children would look at him, "as if I was speaking another language", when he introduced himself. His conflict of identity seems to have continued into adulthood: he voted Labour and thinks "Jeremy Corbyn is a lovely guy who has people's interests at heart," but considers himself to be more conservative at heart, and lamented the amount of abuse that people get for voting Tory. I can't help but wonder if some Corbyn's confusion and anxiety about his personal identity aged eight has seeped into his political one. LA Law has a lot to answer for.

There was more astonishing nominative determinism to come. Corbyn Hales is a swimming teacher, and is also 19. He was named after Korben Dallas, Bruce Willis's intrepid cab driver in The Fifth Element (his dad wasn't much of a speller). Corbyn votes Labour, but originally struggled with JC's low popularity and the split in the party, which meant he did not initially get fully behind his namesake. An increase in positive reactions to his name, particularly amongst his own age group, made him more aware of the upcoming surge than most – he is now comfortably behind Jezza, especially since the election. Corbyn's brother Cameron (!) votes Conservative "for economic reasons" – I was delighted to discover that somewhere in Ealing there is a household that represents a perfect cross section of UK politics. I've chosen to believe they have a weedy, much despised family cat called Tim.

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So what is it like to be a Corbyn in the age of Corbynmania? Reactions are mixed. A lot of my new Corbyn pals said it had helped as a social lubricant – making small talk easier and attracting attention in clubs and on Tinder. Not all the attention is welcome though. Corbin MacNeill is 28 and originally from the United States. He told me he gets lots of hassle while working bar when people find out his name – especially as his bar has become something of a local for constituency Labour activists, asking for selfies and making jokes he's heard ten times before.


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Corbyn Morgan lives in an affluent part of the South West, and was the only person I interviewed who picked his own name. "I chose it in my early twenties to mark a change in my life – I just saw it written on a building and liked the shape of it." Being in a Tory constituency though, means "lots of negative comments about Jezza. I think he played a good election campaign but he's still a politician. I didn't vote, I'm an anarchist".

Further afield the reactions were more positive. It's always nice to be reminded that Corbynmania isn't limited to the UK: Corbin Chapman, 20, lives in Salt Lake City Utah, and contacted me on twitter after I put out a request. "Does it matter if I'm from the US?" he asked. "That depends, it only matters if it means you don't know who Jeremy Corbyn is," I told him. "Of course I do! The absolute boy!" came the reply.

I'll leave the last word with Corbin MacNeill, who's still getting used to the new association of his name with a cult figure: "Jeremy's a marmite character – you either love him or you hate him so everyone expects an opinion from me. I really hated the attention at first, but I like his policies at least, I could be associated with someone much worse. As long as he doesn't do a Hitler with my first name we're cool".

@multiplebears