Lib Dems, Donald Trump and NWA

The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron, has publicly professed his love of legendary gangster rappers, NWA.

Remember the Lib Dems? You could be forgiven for forgetting they exist, what with all the political hubbub we’ve endured over the last sixteen months or so. They’re that party who gatecrashed their way into coalition government in 2010, only to crumble to a humiliating election defeat five years later. They now boast a measly eight MPs.

Anyway, their gaffer Tim Farron admitted during their party conference that he had an embarrassing moment earlier this year. Apparently his “eff the police” ringtone started going off slap bang in the middle of a meeting with his local NHS trust.

What is it with the Lib Dems and hip hop? Norman Lamb, the MP for North Norfolk, has a son named Archie who works with big UK grime acts including Tinchy Stryder. (N-Dubz singer Dappy actually endorsed Norman Lamb for Lib Dem leader in 2015 — somehow Lamby still lost the two-man race to Farron.)

If Tim Farron wants to try to win over the kids by linking himself to a rap group who disbanded before most of them were born, that’s fine with me. What I find slightly irksome are his recent attacks on Jeremy Corbyn. He’s accused JC of being “the worst opposition leader in history”, adding that he is “weak, incoherent and downright useless”.

I fail to see how Farron is in a position to criticise anyone. He is the leader of a party which was annihilated in the last general election. Why? Because the public felt the Lib Dems abandoned their principles by getting into bed with the Tories and failing to effectively oppose austerity measures such as the raising of tuition fees and moves to privatise the NHS.

Jeremy Corbyn has been called many things by his enemies, but no-one can call him a flip-flopper. He’s stubbornly stuck to his guns over the years — the most obvious example being the Iraq war — and has repeatedly ended up on the right side of history.

Likewise, the Conservatives have been reasonably unwavering in their endeavours to dismantle the welfare state and protect the country’s financial elite. It’s what they’ve always been about and they’ve stuck with it. Maybe that’s why they’ve been so successful recently. For decades Labour have been moving steadily away from their socialist roots and look where it’s got them. Ed Miliband’s austerity-lite tactic didn’t work — why would Owen Smith’s?

If there is a silver lining to be taken from the rise of Donald Trump, it is this: no-one is unelectable. Five years ago, the idea of Trump becoming president was a joke — literally. In April 2011, Barack Obama savagely laid into ‘The Donald’ at the annual White House Correspondents’ dinner. The President landed zinger after zinger as Trump stared back loathingly, the entire political establishment guffawing with glee at his expense. In the words of Nigel Farage, “They’re not laughing now.”

Trump’s had five years to plot his revenge and he’s doing a darn good job. He recently moved ahead of Hillary Clinton in the polls in two key swing states: Ohio and Florida. The — admittedly terrifying — possibility of a Trump presidency is becoming realer by the day.

Labour also had five years to catch up with their opponents when Corbyn was elected leader. They’ve wasted one of those precious years viciously and pointlessly fighting among themselves. However, if they can put aside their differences and work together, who knows what could be achieved before the 2020 general election?

Perhaps Corbyn isn’t down as down with the kids as Tim Farron. NWA are old, but UB40 are even more over the hill. Corbyn will be consoled by the fact that Labour membership has increased by more than 100,000 since December and now stands at over half a million. In comparison, Liberal Democrat membership is currently hovering around the 70,000 mark — and that’s only after a flurry of new arrivals following the EU referendum result.

Farron reckons the Lib Dems are the “real voice of opposition to the Conservative Brexit government”. This would perhaps be true if holding the government to account was generally done through the medium of rap battle. (I’ve already discussed the Lib Dems’ undeniable hip hop credentials). The day that DJ Lamb lays down a messy beat at PMQs, so that MC Farron can ‘drop science’ on Theresa May, 8-mile stylee, maybe I’ll think about going over to the orange (or is it yellow?) side of politics.

Until that day, I’ll think I’ll stick with Jeremy Corbyn and his faded UK reggae bands.