All week, it’s been fascinating, in a grisly sort of way, watching Labour slowly disintegrate into a million tiny insignificant pieces. As someone who’s voted for them in the past – even shoved leaflets through letterboxes back in the day, gone on marches and attended utterly tedious and never-ending branch meetings – it’s rather sad.
Everywhere, the question is why. Why is this stupid bearded bastard doing so well? How can this faded relic who we only let in as a bit of a joke, to try and pretend to the wing of the party we despise (but whose votes we need) actually be being taken seriously? Look, we let him turn up so we could make it look as though we’re a broad church; but for heaven’s sake, you weren’t meant to actually think he was any good. Now be sensible, you silly sods, and vote for one of the three nonentities.
It says something for the contempt with which Labour holds its own members that this incessant, witless spectacle seems most focused on putting Corbyn supporters on the naughty step rather than offering an alternative.
So much condescension. Tony Blair popped up with some unfunny zingers. Corbyn voters are either deluded, or idiots, or deluded idiots, or people who prefer splendid isolation to being in power, or whatever. It couldn’t be that he’s offering something that the others aren’t; that would be unthinkable. The others are election winners!
But elections – and this is one – quite often aren’t won by being the dazzling candidate with the best ideas. They can be won by being less inept than everyone else. Jeremy Corbyn might knock about with Gerry Adams and not be able to do up a tie, but he can actually answer questions. He doesn’t look or sound like a tedious PR wonk career politician. The others do. He can say things that connect with people who have been doing the door knocking, leafleting and attending those pointless branch meetings for decades.
Listen to the voters, they say. Well, Labour voters want to go into an election not holding on to their noses but actually voting for something they can believe in. Wait, not those voters! The ones who want to vote Conservative and shop in Waitrose – those are our people! Tory voters aren’t evil, we need them back!
Suppose Tory voters aren’t evil. But let’s also suppose they’re not stupid. “Hey, hang on a minute, Labour are now copying the Tories, that must mean they’ve changed their minds completely and I can go and vote for them again! Well done, progressive Labour! I feel right back at home!” Where are the big ideas, the sweeping visions? The three dull, double glazing sales types offer nothing like that. A bit of tinkering here and there. A fresh start. Being northern. Having slightly nicer branding. Maybe using different fonts. That sort of thing. No vision. No ideas. Just endless deserts of beige management consultant nothingness.
Deep down you wonder how long it will last. Soon, one of the three nobodies will come up with something, anything, anything other than being anyone but Corbyn. But time is passing and it’s not happening.