There’s been a lot of stolen thunder this week; and all of it seems to have been stolen from Labour by the Tories. The embarrassing (anti) climax of Angela Eagle’s ‘Dragons’ Den’-style pitch for the Labour leadership on Monday morning saw the hopeful no-hoper ready to take questions from the assembled press corps, unaware most of them had dashed around the corner to catch Andrea Leadsom’s withdrawal announcement. On Wednesday, Owen Smith (yes, you know him, don’t you?) decided to split the anti-Corbyn vote by declaring his own intention to stand against the leader; and this declaration was utterly overshadowed by the Cameron-May handover. However, the Corbynistas must have been delighted that their performance at the meeting of the National Executive Committee on Tuesday evening played second fiddle to Tory headlines, for by all accounts the scenes there were rather unpleasant.
The meeting spanned five hours, called to decide whether or not Jezza was entitled to have his name on the leadership ballot without the required number of Labour MPs and MEPs to nominate him. It felt like a dodgy technicality devised to give those standing against him an unfair advantage, but it can only be a proper contest with the incumbent leader allowed to take part, especially when he refuses to budge. The goalposts have already been moved out of sheer desperation to prevent his endless tsunami of online recruits from buying him the leadership again, but his opponents are running out of ideas now.
Despite the fact that we’ve just lived through one of the most dramatic political weeks of the last half-century, Corbyn hasn’t publicly commented on any of the events to have taken place beyond the bunker at the Commons where his Swiss Guard repel visitors; but it was no great surprise that the Invisible Man materialised at the NEC meeting, arriving to a rapturous reception from his starry-eyed acolytes outside the venue. It confirmed to me that Jeremy Corbyn really isn’t interested in anything or anyone but Jeremy Corbyn.
The persecution complex that Corbyn and his bullish mafia are forever exhibiting in public, painting themselves as heroic little people being crushed by the evil elite empire, doesn’t quite fit with the tactics they use against their perceived enemies, some of which are as vicious and sinister as anything governments have in their intimidating arsenals. Following a series of publicised warnings from the likes of the bolshie throwback thug, Unite General Secretary, Len McCluskey, the Corbynistas were out in force at the NEC meeting. Aggressive threats of legal action on the part of the Shadow Cabinet (or what’s left of it) should the NEC come to a decision that Corbyn’s mob disapproved of were delivered as soon as the conference began, according to shaken NEC member Johanna Baxter on ‘The World at One’ the following day.
The vote to decide whether or not Corbyn could be automatically included on the list of candidates was a secret ballot because many feared reprisals from the Corbyn faction should their individual votes become public knowledge and serve as ammunition for the bullies shielding Jezza from non-believers. Incidentally, Corbyn himself made it clear he didn’t want a secret ballot, despite pleas from NEC members seeking to avoid the kind of treatment any Labour MP or member who dares to criticise Corbyn receives on social media; you know the kind of thing I’m talking about – and it’s not just a brick through the window, virtual or literal. With one simple gesture made by the Messiah, his troll battalion would have done as they were told; and he refused. For all his public condemnations of bullying undertaken on his behalf, Corbyn seems to attract it in the same way Sham 69 used to attract violent far-right skinheads to their gigs.
The deceptively avuncular John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor and Corbyn’s closest party ally, aired his own foul-mouthed opinion of the PLP ‘plotters’ at yet another of the endless rallies he and the rest of the Corbyn crowd are forever attending on the same night as the NEC meeting. You can take the boy out of the backbench, but you can’t take the backbench out of the boy.
Inherited guilt over everything Tony Blair represented, and an inability to know how to deal with it, has pushed Labour into the hands of a fanatical, nasty little neo-Trotskyite clique who haven’t a clue how to reach out to anyone who doesn’t fit their narrow agenda and basically don’t give a shit about doing so. Their public image as dedicated keepers of the sacred socialist flame is a soft sell to the converted, and the Guru’s Gestapo is something that the starry eyes are blind to.
Just as Tony Benn had Militant Tendency, Corbyn has Momentum; he can even call on powerful supporters within the same media he likes to portray as the root of all evil – ageing champagne socialists as well as graduates of the latest academy of ‘isms’ and ‘phobias’, always on hand to spread the word via a tweet that accuses any opposite opinion of being Blairite, end of. And tonight they want to party like it’s 1979 – on a never-ending loop.
Angela Eagle and Owen Smith are like a couple of music hall acts somewhere halfway down the bill, just below the performing dogs, whereas Corbyn is the emcee, banging his gavel and giving his Good Old Days audience the archaic familiarity they crave. And these are the best Labour can offer the public as an alternative to Theresa May? The new PM may as well call a snap Election in the autumn; were a full five-year term rather than just under four desired, Labour would hand it to her on a plate. If she can make Boris Foreign Secretary, she could give Michael Portillo a Peerage and make him Minister for Badly-dressed Middle-Aged Men if she so wished. She can do what the hell she wants – and that’s why everyone crying out for an alternative is either desperately honing in on Corbyn or simply despairing. At the moment, the Labour Party is the best guarantee of uninterrupted Conservative Government that the Tories have ever had.
© The Editor