Saturday, 25 July 2015
Summer games (not quite Olympic)
If anything, the recent spat in the Labour Party demonstrates once again its genuine altruism. As the great British public are getting ready to be bored by endless traffic jams and scorching summer heat on the beaches of Kent, the Labour Party provides us all with an entertaining spectacle worthy of Shakespeare. On one side, behold the modernisers, ready to pounce on anyone who dares to mention past ghosts still haunting the party (who are now jet-setting and sporting deep tans), on the other side, see the undead of the stalinist union sympathisers who smell a chance to hijack the party machinery for the ultimate battle to bring socialist nirvana to the (uninformed) masses.
To any bystander however this spectacle resembles more shadow boxing than an actual debate about the future of the party. In the very centre of any party husting is the glaring black hole of ideas, right or left wing, or at least the stubborn unwillingness of either side to articulate any policies. That suits the incarnation of the stalinist undead from Islington who is trying to pass himself off as the older version of the Greek PM Tsipras, with some modest success. Corbyn, like any ideologue, revels in bland 'statements of principle' which offer instant appeal but have little to do with politics, the art of the compromise.
The centre ground does not look much more attractive with a former PPS and Cambridge graduate trotting out the line that he is 'from Liverpool' which, he believes, gives him the 'common touch'. Then there is Yvette Cooper, who is mainly driven by an unfathomable ambition to be leader without ever quite revealing why she would want the top job. My best guess is that she does this as a kind of ego-trip to revenge the defeat of her husband. But that's only a hunch taken from the only comment of hers that made headlines so far, which was that she cried when Ed Balls lost his seat. Lucky those with supreme motives like her.
And then there is Liz Kendall, which strikes everyone as a pale version of Tony Blair (pun very much intended). Her main characteristic appears to be that she lacks Blair's charisma and his way of connecting with people, or formulating any simple sentence that hits home, for that matter. Something she will undoubtedly learn in the next five years, even if not at the dispatch box opposite David Cameron.
So, there we are, the sorry spectacle of the Labour Party selection process. I propose that we should talk about the really important things in life again. How about a national debate on whether we should put the clocks back for summer TWO hours instead of one? We always talk about this. Let's not be diverted by the small matter of the Labour Party making itself comfortable in eternal opposition.