The Corbyn show is already over — but let’s keep laughing

When Iain Duncan Smith’s calamitous leadership of the Conservatives reached its lowest point — which, if I recall correctly, was somewhere beneath the Marianas Trench — it was put to him that he could soon expect a visit from ‘the men in grey suits’ — that is, party grandees who would hand him a glass of whisky and a revolver, and expect him to do the right thing.

IDS, a former lieutenant in the Scots Guards, bristled at the suggestion. ‘Then they will leave without their suits!’ he warned.

Tough talk from the Quiet Man. But the hopelessness of his position was exposed by the exquisite response from a Tory backbencher: ‘That’s fighting talk bordering on the homoerotic.’

Once they’ve started laughing at you, you’re done. Disagreement can be debated, anger confronted, disillusionment won round, but the black humour of the lost cause is always and everywhere terminal.

Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership is already over. It is no more. It has ceased to be. It has rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. It is an ex-leadership. He may stay in situ beyond the guaranteed catastrophe of next May’s various electoral tests; horrifyingly, he may even cling on, like some energy-sucking wraith, until the next general election, ensuring a historically unprecedented mauling. If he does, he will leave behind him a desiccated corpse, a Labour Party locked in an eternal scream and locked out of power, and his name will live in infamy. Whatever, he will not, and cannot, lead. He makes IDS look like FDR.

A Nobel prize-winning scientist would be hard pushed to design a more perfect experiment to prove the incompatibility of the far Left with the real world. Literally every decision Corbyn and his team have taken since his election has been the wrong one. Each position adopted has resulted in abject humiliation. Every one of his deeply held principles has been blunted on the implacable opposition of the British public. In two months, the hapless kook has already racked up more U-turns than Starsky and Hutch.

I have a friend who is a lifelong Labour member and who still, at least once a week, will say something like: ‘I was walking along the street this morning and I stopped in mid-stride, because I suddenly remembered that Jeremy Corbyn is leader of the Labour Party. I keep forgetting, and then it hits me again.’

My friend has decided to resign his membership. He is not the only one. Robert Webb, of the Mitchell and Webb comedy duo, announced last week that he too has given up the ghost. I know Robert, and he is a decent guy — his politics are fairly standard leftie, and he gets clangingly angry at social injustice. He is perhaps the least likely person since the advent of universal suffrage to ‘fuck off and join the Tories’, as the Corbynistas have so sweetly urged him to do in recent days.

This seems to be the universal advice for anyone who dissents from the lunatic pursuit of a hard-Left agenda. On Saturday, Lord Cashman, the former Eastenders actor and MEP, who now speaks for Labour on LGBT issues, felt compelled to tweet (nervously, clearly): ‘Right, I’m going to say this. There is a viciousness coming from a lot of Corbyn’s supporters, & it is not appropriate in the Labour Party.’ These people have earned a place in zoomer hell alongside the cybernats and the Ukippers.

The problem with constantly and aggressively telling people to fuck off and join the Tories is that a fair number of them will think ‘ok then’. A weekend poll by ComRes put national support for the Conservatives at 42 per cent, to 27 per cent for Labour. In the Midlands, the gap is 44 per cent to 24 per cent; in the South East it is 55–18; Yorkshire and Humber is 43–32; in the North of England — the North of England! — the Tories are at 42 per cent to Labour’s 36 per cent. The governing party is ahead among every socio-economic group. Only 17 per cent of voters trust Corbyn ‘to keep me and my family safe’. For the avoidance of doubt, these figures are really, really bad — like, the-worst-act-on-Britain’s-Got-Talent bad. And they will terrify Labour MPs.

The door has slammed shut on the tiny possibility that Corbyn might have surprised us. He has not even risen to meet the lowest expectations. Last week’s meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party saw him treated with contempt. His entry was greeted with silence, following his post-Paris unwillingness to support a shoot-to-kill policy for police when tackling terrorists and his inability to condone the killing of the Islamist murderer Jihadi John in a drone strike. His refusal to withdraw from a Christmas dinner for Stop the War, the vile extremist group which blames the West for the French slaughter, has driven MPs potty. ‘It was the moment that he lost the parliamentary party,’ one attendee was quoted as saying. ‘There were people who had been prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt but you could see the scales fall from their eyes.’ A shadow cabinet minister was even blunter: ‘He gives these grandstanding speeches [but] he doesn’t know what the fuck he is talking about a lot of the time.’

The project staggers from crisis to crisis. The appointment of the ghastly, anti-nuke Ken Livingstone to co-chair a Trident renewal commission alongside the pro-nuke shadow defence secretary Maria Eagle is ludicrous. The strange and sinister shadow chancellor John McDonnell — ‘socialism, but with an iPad’ — continues to place his foot in his mouth each time he opens it. Each new adviser appointed by Corbyn seems to carry enough baggage to sink the QEII.

Let’s be clear: things are not going to get better. They will not settle down. Labour is not heading towards anything worthwhile. There is no ‘new’ politics. Nothing is being remade. There will be no parliamentary discipline. The voters will not be persuaded. And the Tories will win.

The Corbyn leadership is the most farcical, ill-advised and embarrassing episode in British political history. Everything about it is wrong. And, as I say, it is already over. Until he and his motley crew understand this and remove their sorry backsides from the stage, it is incumbent upon the rest of us to point, to jeer, and, most of all, to laugh.


Slick on the draw

I came shamefully late to the world of graphic novels. I was never a great comic book fan as a boy, and as an adult wrote them off as juvenile fodder.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. My artist sister-in-law has a large collection and every time we visited I’d end up in a corner with my head buried in Swamp Thing or Sandman, engrossed in the latest work of Neil Gaiman or Alan Moore or Scotland’s own Mark Millar.

Having become a bit addicted, I’ve started to build my own collection. There’s so much good stuff out there. Marjane Satrapi’s ‘Persepolis’, a tale of growing up in Iran, is as perceptive and moving a work as you’ll find in any format. Ditto Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘Maus’, a story of the Holocaust which portrays the Nazis as cats, the Jews as mice and the Americans as dogs. Then there’s Richard McGuire’s magnificent ‘Here’, which focuses on a single corner of a room throughout history. Weapons of Mass Diplomacy is a hilarious take on the run up to the Iraq War from the perspective of the Quai d’Orsay. Logicomix is a smart take on the early years of the philosopher Bertrand Russell. I could go on and on…

My current favourite, though, is something slightly different: ‘Vargic’s Miscellany of Curious Maps’. Martin Vargic is a 17-year-old boy from Slovakia who designs beautifully intricate maps when he gets home from school, ranging from a ‘map of stereotypes’ to a ‘map of music’ to a ‘map of penis and breast sizes’. It sounds nuts, but the book is packed with mini masterpieces and, like the others mentioned above, is a tribute to the extraordinary power of the human imagination.


George the Forthright

I’ve never quite been able to make my mind up about George Galloway. I disagree with him strongly on pretty much everything, and find his views on the Middle East particularly egregious and distasteful. And yet… he was one of the Unionist heroes of the independence referendum campaign, a powerful and charismatic voice when those were in short supply. Last week, when asked about shoot-to-kill, he gave a response that put Jeremy Corbyn’s prevarication to shame: ‘I think that on these matters one has to be iron and steel hard. I’d shoot them myself with my own hand. I’d be happy to see them all dead in the street.’ People can surprise you. For all his flaws, and unlike the majority of unthinking leftie zombies, Galloway has courage and a mind of his own. To coin a phrase, I salute his indefatigability.

A version of these articles appeared in the Scottish Daily Mail on November 23, 2015