To London’s Battersea Arts Centre, then, for the Labour Party’s election campaign launch. It is still visibly damaged from a horrendous fire that ripped through it in 2015, a terrible event for which the cause is still unknown, though most lay the blame on Ed Miliband’s decision to open up the leadership election to “supporters” paying just £3.
In these turbulent times, Jeremy Corbyn has assumed the role of a kind of political monarch. Everything changes at breakneck speed, but Corbyn remains, steadfast and unchanged. It’s a mere two and a half years since they lost the last election, but the Labour Party remains reassuringly the same.
“For the Many Not The Few” remains the slogan, the last unpurged vestige of Blairism, plastered up on the backdrop, just as it was in 2017, and just as it was in 1997.
It does work slightly better as a slogan when it’s the many not the few who are voting for you, but oh well. Corbynism is nothing if not aspirational.
The pitch is the same as it ever was. “Whose side are you on?” Corbyn wanted to know, time and again, yelping into the singed rafters. “Are you on the side of the tax dodgers, hiding their money in tax havens so they can have a new super-yacht?
“Or are you on the side of the children with special educational needs?”
A verbatim quote that, and a real head-scratcher.
“Whose side are you on? The big polluters, polluting the environment, or the children growing up in our cities with reduced lung capacity because of choking pollution?”
Whose side are you on? Good or evil? Heaven or hell? Spongebob Squarepants’ or Mr Krab’s?
Unfortunately for Corbyn, his audience had not fully understood whose side they were meant to be on. Because each time he asked them whose side they were on – Harry Potter or Lord Voldemort? King Herod or the little baby Jesus? – they would only shout back, extremely loudly, “Your side!”
Whose side are you on – Tom or Jerry!?
Whose side are you on – Little Red Riding Hood or the Big Bad Wolf?!
But I’m not one of the options!
You’ve not really understood the question, have you?
Whose side are you on? Leave or Remain?
Actually, it was a journalist asked that one, and, naturally it turns out that Jeremy Corbyn is on both and neither. He is, you’ve guessed it, on your side!
If you’re from Mansfield and you voted Leave... or if you’re from Tottenham and you voted Remain, you’re both, it turns out, on the same side. Specifically, you’re on Jeremy Corbyn’s side, here in Jeremy Corbyn’s post-Brexit fantasy world, where the fundamental question facing the nation – the one putting everyone’s actual, real-life prosperity on the line – is, of course, a question that can be quietly sidestepped for another day that he hopes will never come.
Anyway. As in 2017, you’re on Corbyn’s side if you’re on the side of – deep breath now – more money for the NHS, free social care, free childcare, higher wages, no tuition fees and nationalisation of water, rail and the post office.
Whose side are you on? Well, if you’re on the side of an absolutely gargantuan amount of free stuff with no idea, means or plan for how any of it’s going to be paid for, then you’re on Jeremy’s side.
As the polls currently stand, the “loads of free stuff” side is, very mysteriously, the side of the few not the many.
But things are volatile. Investments can go up as well as down. Less is more. Together we are one. And whatever happens, they’re absolutely, definitely on Jeremy’s side.
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