When the reality is indescribably bleak, as it is for Labour, the instinct is to seek sanctuary in fantasy. So today we consider the possibility that, in September, Jeremy Corbyn will be announced as the party’s leader.
If the venerable left-winger’s appearance among the candidates strikes many (himself included, apparently) as bizarre, one appreciates why. Some will feel that the recent election result hinted at minimal public appetite for his redistributive politics, while he has never led anything other than a peaceful demonstration. More damagingly still, this is an unimpeachably decent man, without a shred of ego or aspiration, who has stuck with the sort of beliefs – equality of opportunity, decent wages and workers’ rights, not selling weapons to brutal dictators, that sort of outdated guff – that Labour long ago disowned. The notion of such a gentle, archaic figure becoming party leader has the flavour of a straight-to-DVD, non-animated (nothing about Jeremy is animated) Disney movie about Islington’s answer to Harry Truman somehow bumbling his way to high office.
For all that, the 16-1 quoted against him looks tempting. Call it wishful thinking if you must, but with his three rivals crowded together on Tory Lite territory (see elsewhere), Jeremy has the left flank to himself – and, as Ed Miliband’s 2010 win established, the membership is usually leftier than the parliamentary party. All it would take is for 30,000-40,000 people – Old Labour voters, disaffected Greens, satirists, romantics, nihilists, the plain mischievous and, of course, Tories – to pay the £3 fee for the right to vote … and who knows where it might lead? A victory for Jeremy would be the most dramatic upset in political history. Admittedly, the dramatic form would be comedy, but since Labour seems certain to lose in 2020 regardless of its leader, why not go down laughing with one of the good guys?
And to those of you who find the idea of an absolute no-hoper becoming the leader of a main party too preposterous even to consider, I have three words. Iain. Duncan. And Smith.
Ah, the great rival rebrand
A glance at Jeremy Corbyn’s rivals finds the two favourites expertly rebranding themselves. Interviewed in The Mail on Sunday, Andy Burnham attacks the mansion tax as “spiteful”. Mascara Boy is now scheduled to demand the return of the gold standard. As for Yvette Cooper, the odds against her have narrowed sharply since she took such strides, at a lunch with lobby hacks, to jettison the primness. Being in opposition “sucks”, said Yvette, adding that any comparison with Hillary Clinton was “cool”. Asked by Sky’s Adam Bolton whether she intended to make her next speech wearing bobby socks and waving pom-poms, the oldest cheerleader in town said: “Like, tooooaatally, yeah. Awesome.”
Sad to report, Liz Kendall’s candidacy seems to be stalling despite all the evidence of a powerfully original mind. Among other shows of insight, Liz has identified the economy as “important”, and promised to defend “Britain’s national interest”. Why such incisive thinking isn’t striking a chord is beyond me, although Liz did, of course, have a golden moment when she rebuked Burnham for declaring that “the party comes first”. “No,” she told a hustings, “the country comes first.” We suggest she builds on that, using it as her official mantra. The last politician to use Country First as a campaign slogan was John McCain in 2008, and things went splendidly for him. If Liz promises to bomb Iran and hires someone who can see Russia from her front porch as her sidekick, it could be beyond even Corbyn to stop her march to power.
A lock-up full of top gear
In a bid to counter the worrying dearth of Top Gear coverage – it’s almost as though there’s a pan-media omertà – we have news of the motoring show. Well, not exactly news, but some vague speculation about exactly why the BBC was so desperate to retain James May and Richard Hammond after Jeremy Clarkson’s departure. We gather that, strategically positioned across the South-east, aircraft hangar-sized warehouses are overflowing with merchandise – mouse mats, mugs, T-shirts, penis sheaths and so on (I may have made one of those up) – bearing the trio’s images. Whatever hopes BBC Worldwide had of shifting this gear around the globe – series of the show up to 2017 had been sold to almost 200 countries – relied on keeping them. What the BBC will do with the stuff now is unclear. It could donate it to the Argentine government in return for a promise not to invade the Falklands, or wait until 5 November and have one hell of a bonfire.
What’s good for the gander
How depressing to find Cherie Blair under attack from cynics and sneerers for earning an honest crust working for a repressive regime. Cherie’s legal consultancy, Omnia Strategy, has a contract to advise the government of the Maldive islands – an administration that tends to the laissez-faire on the human rights front – on “democracy consolidation”. More than ever since the collapse of Mee, her private health clinic business, she needs to earn a living – and if that comes from helping odious regimes tart up their images, so be it. Besides, everyone knows that having a shared interest is the key to a happy marriage.Reuse content