Trump’s “EPIC rally” turns to farewell tour.
Oh dear, what a flop. The Donald’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, proudly boasted “just passed 800’000 tickets. Biggest data haul and rally signup of all by 10x. Saturday is going to be amazing!”. But poor Billy Goat Brad suffered huge humiliation last night as the epic rally fell flat on its face in Tulsa, Oklahoma where the overflow stage was promptly packed up upon the realisation that nobody was coming. I only hope Parscale hasn’t cut his ties with his website building career, he will probably be returned their soon. The video of a bedraggled Trump trudging off the plane, giving a half hearted salute with his tie draped around his shoulders, barely able to lift each foot off the ground as he shuffled back to the White House will be replayed and replayed across the world. He looks dejected and rather sad. Perhaps he knows that the jig is up.
There was a tinny echo that reverberated throughout Tulsa and across the world during his speech, the type of echo that comes with thousands of empty seats, reminiscent of the uninspiring turnout for his inauguration. The photos put up on his infamous twitter page were of the masses on the ground floor, as if the camera had have been tilted one tier up, the sea of blue would have shown the epic rally to be the embarrassment it truly was.
But the worst was still to come from the contents of the orangutan’s speech. A tapestry of gaffes so long that Biden needn’t point them out, they are as plain as the leather sole on Trump’s shoes. The man who so often goes on the offensive seems to be very hurt by the campaign ads from the Lincoln Project or the #TrumpIsNotWell trend, so much so that he felt compelled to defend himself in front of his fiercest supporters. Parts of it seemed like a comedy routine that would be performed in some dark dingy gentlemen’s club back room with the air thick with smoke, “I SAID GENERAL…I SAID GENERALLL”, before describing why he creeped down the ramp like the Pink Panther. He moved from his defence of how he walks to the defence of how he drinks, flexing his muscles on his ability to drink water with one hand. Incredible. POTUS managed to drink a glass of water and throw it away, which to his puppets means he is the “GREATEST. PRESIDENT. EVER!”. What a sick joke. What next? Will he proudly showcase his exceptional ability to tie his laces? His remarkable talent in boiling an egg? Or perhaps he will really thrive when he illustrates how he can go number 2 and wipe all by himself. The standard of the Oval Office hasn’t just slipped down a mountain under Trump, it’s fallen off a cliff.
The floppy rally, funny as it was, had quite a sinister element when POTUS claimed he wanted to “slow the testing down please” because the more tests that happen, the more people have COVID-19, at least on official record. This new fire set ablaze by the President has required emergency extinguishers. Peter Navarro came on CNN and laughed as he explained “come on now Jake, you know it was tongue in cheek”, seriously? Light-hearted, good natured joshing about the virus that taken the lives of over 120’000 of your citizens sure is something you want to make light of and put a smile back on the faces.
The question now is what Trump will do to shock his campaign back into life. Another failed rally will surely be disastrous for his bid. The silent majority he so vehemently claims that he speaks for are very, very quiet, eerily quiet, not present quiet. He is all at sea at the moment surrounded by busted life jackets that cannot keep him afloat due to the sheer weight of the cargo. If he is going to make it back to shore, he will have to do it alone and I don’t fancy him as much of a swimmer.
A closer look at the EMI Red C Poll of Ireland.
On Thursday 30th of April, European Movement Ireland hosted a webinar on their annual poll regarding the relationship between Europe and Ireland – The Red C Poll. On the panel there were two highly distinguished guests that joined the Executive Director, Noelle O’Connell in the shape of RTE’s Europe Editor, Tony Connelly and Eisenhower Fellow, Katy Hayward, from Queen’s University Belfast. The discussion that followed outlined that the report was in general, a very positive one for Ireland’s future in Europe, but I couldn’t help but come away from the hour and a quarter long video call feeling a little nervous. Ireland cannot afford to rest on its laurels when it comes to Europe. We cannot sleepwalk into Euroscepticism, and there is some evidence that there were drawbacks from the EMI report, particularly amongst young people.
There are two very important points to make when looking into this report; (1) it was carried out in the context of COVID-19 and (2) there was a large amount of “don’t know” answers throughout the polling. Perhaps the best place to start is “Ireland should remain a member of the EU” which a resounding 84% of people responded “yes”. There is no doubting that this is a very healthy figure. But it is still down 9% from last year, which Tony Connelly believes is due to a “Brexit bounce” from 2016-2019. The issue of Brexit being constantly portrayed as a painstaking process in the news every day for the past 4 years has somewhat passed, and now Ireland has returned to a figure similar to 2015 (86%). However, this is not the figure that concerns me. What concerns me is the huge disparity between the percentage of people supporting the EU and the percentage of people who feel their voice is heard by the EU, a figure which has seen an extraordinarily sharp decline from 2019 when it boasted a 69% figure (Eurobarometer). This, according to Connelly, could be as a result of people being able to separate what they believe is generally good for the state from their own aspirations. But it seems to be a passive form of support for the EU rather than an engaging one, which Hayward attributed to a “not quite so passionate” Irish electorate in defending Europe. This submissive support for the EU is evidenced by the turnout figures at EU elections, which at less than 50% in 2019 is less than the EU average. For such a supposed proponent of the EU, this figure is a little disappointing. Moreover, the Sinn Féin surge of 2020 could potentially galvanise voters into questioning EU membership.
There is no question that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are strong advocates for membership of the EU, and their draft document on government formation stipulated increased spending in the EU as well as enlargement of it, apparent positive steps in fostering a healthy relationship with Brussels. Nevertheless, the EMI Poll illustrates that these policies may not be especially popular with voters as 37% polled disagreed with the EU allowing more European countries to join, as well as 41% disagreeing that Ireland should increase funding. The age breakdown of these results is also cause for concern. Only 26% of people aged 18-24 believe they are heard in Brussels compared to over 43% of the over 55’s. Young people were a big base for supporters of SF in the last election and the party is not completely sold on the European Union, although this was placed on the backburner throughout Brexit. Couple this low figure amongst young people with the fact that they are the likeliest age group to vote for SF could mean that questions of Europe could start being raised at a grassroots level. But perhaps my worries are a case of me being a nervous nellie. There are so many positive headlines to be taken from the work carried out by EMI. 84% support for the European Union is a hugely significant figure and places us at the head of member states backing the EU. Furthermore, this statistic is ably supported by three quarters of those surveyed believing that increased trade deals are a positive thing (only 8% of people disagreed) and young people are still leading the charge when it comes to climate change (55% of 18-24 year olds aware of EU’s plans to tackle the crisis) which is 10% higher than that of any of the other age groups. These are all encouraging statistics. But the Poll has provided plenty of food for thought. Not least of which is the lack of people “knowing” enough about certain topics regarding the EU that they do not feel they can agree or disagree with the statement proposed. Engagement is crucial in maintaining the relationship we currently have with the EU, but it is a two-way street. The institution needs to show us that we are being heard, that what we think matters, that we can all make a difference as citizens of Europe. Until that day comes or that process begins, the voter turnout will continue to stagnate, and more questions will have to be answered. True support comes from active engagement and a sense of belonging and if there is one thing I take away from the report, it is that Ireland might not be as actively supportive as it once was, the average citizen inactively loyal to the EU and I believe that this is a dangerous road to meander down as we go forward into the turbulent times that lie ahead.
Move over Bushism, the Trumpism reigns supreme.
“Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?” These are the exact words of the two term Republican President George W Bush, a linguistic error and semantic gaffe on his behalf that is made all the more ironic by the fact he so happened to be talking about basic literacy standards in education. Bush’s time in politics was marred by quite a few comical and unintentional linguistic blunders, so much so in fact, it lead to the creation of an entirely new constituent within English language construction – the Bushism. Of Bushism’s there are of course the classics such as, “I think war is a dangerous place” or, the time he referred to himself as a Texan girl, “I want you to know, Karyn is with us. A West Texas girl, just like me.” Or there’s the time he went a bit Watergate and also perhaps subliminally tipped off Ed Snowden to look into the U.S surveillance program, “All I can tell you is when the governor calls, I answer his phone.” And of course, there were other times where Bush just went totally left field with his soothing Texan accent, “I know the human being and Fish can coexist peacefully.” Bush said this last one with a particular Presidential air, a reassuring confidence, as if he was certifiably going to bring an end to the violent coexistence between human beings and fish.
I had tremendous fun reading through all these Bushisms again. I set out in the hopes of finding a few snippets for the purpose of this article and ended up watching hour after hour, 20 year old videos of Bush on the campaign trail making one linguistic gaffe after another. If you haven’t already, I’d highly recommend getting lost in the Bushism rabbit hole. It’s fun, looking back on Bush’s malapropisms, syntax errors, neologisms and spoonerisms, it thoroughly is fun in a lighthearted manner (albeit, it is still somewhat concerning that a man holding such high public office struggled to string a sentence together.) The reason its fun is because Bush’s gaffes were harmless, his presidency was not – an argument for another day – but his gaffes were. The only harm they caused were to his public image, which sometimes I think actually benefited due to their endearing nature.
Eight years of the Republican Presidential pantomime was broken up by Obama’s starkly contrasting well-spoken and measured approach. Forty-Four would never have made the optimistic claim that human beings and fish could coexist peacefully, he was far more grounded than to promise such utopias. But the American electorate returned with a vengeance in 2016. They were dead set on ensuring they do not elect another President with public decorum who may fail to provide the Presidential comedy they so craved over the eight years of Obama. That vengeance struck hard, when the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, was returned President elect in November 2016. If you enjoyed Bushisms, move over, there is a new king in town. As if The Donald could let anyone better him, least not in the category of silliest sentences. Enter the era of the Trumpism wherein Trump’s linguistic capabilities make Bush sound like a poet Laureate.
A study of unscripted presidential speech, carried out by Factba.se, found that Trump by all measures was lower than the previous fifteen presidents. Shocker. More strikingly, the analysis put him on par, in terms of speech, grammar and language construction, with that of an eight year old. Watching any one of Trump’s press briefing responses, or any of his infamous MAGA rallies wherein he regularly drifts off into a deluge of verbal diahorrea, one can see why his language is equated to that of a primary school child. It must be well and truly embarrassing, for the eight year old child that is.
Trump’s magic with words is best described as an incoherent spew of nonsense, it is also best listened to, to type it up is brain damagingly painstaking. Unlike the Bushism, I do not recommend you get lost in a three hour YouTube binge of Trump’s speeches, unless you are actively trying to make yourself less intelligent. But there is an important distinction to be noted between the Trumpism and the Bushism, and this distinction has had a profound effect on American politics.
The Trumpism is far nastier than the Bushism. A shrill New York tone bites much sharper than the warm bumbling caress of Bush’s Texan cadence. But more important than just tone, the Trumpism lacks the sincere accidental nature inherent to the Bushism, it carries an unpalatable intention, it stokes an ugliness present within all societies. It thrives on hate and ignorance. In this way, Trump’s rhetoric has become not merely a laughable gaffe, but rather a dangerous impetus within American society. The sentiment present in language, (in the case of Trump, the dangerous sentiment) is heightened tenfold when it is employed by a President. This is due in part to the high regard with which the office is held, but primarily it is due to the intense and extensive domestic and international media coverage which the U.S President receives.
Previous Trumpisms which display the sort of dangerous sentiment I’m talking about here include Trump’s remarks, probably most famously, on Mexicans for the ramping up of support vis á vis his xenophobic border wall, “They’re [Mexico] sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Or, his dangerous undermining of the global effort to solve the climate crisis, “Man, we could use a big fat dose of global warming!” and of course, dangerously combining the two, xenophobia and climate change denial, Trump said “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S manufacturing non-competitive.” Trumpisms have also included referring to “shithole countries,” supporting the use of torture via waterboarding, himself being able to stand in “fifth avenue and shoot somebody”, disgracing PoWs and of course, suggesting that infamous dictators aren’t all that bad, “Saddam Hussein, he killed Terrorists, I’m not saying he was an angel, but this guy killed terrorists” or “[Kim Jong-Un] speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”
A lot of what Trump has said in the past has been superficially shrugged off, but there is a very clear and prevalent way of thinking within each Trumpism. This is, the sentiment and the intention of his language, the provocation of social cleavages and insecurities, these are the impetus which make the Trumpism such a devastating and dangerous deployment of language. Even despite the often erroneous and incoherent construction to Trump’s speech, the emotions to which his content appeals are too powerful to cater for the scrutiny of grammatical errors. However, Trump has possibly gone one calamity too far this time. After all, he was bound to sooner or later.
This week, in the whirl of the coronavirus pandemic and all the rapidity with which the media is moving, the world stood still for just one moment, jaws agape. Dumbfounded. Trump dropped the mother of all Trumpisms, the Presidential gaffe to rule them all, eight years of Bushisms could never have prepared us for this, nothing could have.
“And then I see the disinfectant, knocks it out in a minute, one minute and is uhh a way we can do something like that uh by injection inside or almost a cleaning, ‘cause you see it gets on the lungs and does a tremendous number on the lungs, so be interesting to check that”
Straight off the bat I have to say, I’m sure America thoroughly enjoyed being Trumpsplained on the Coronavirus with that last elucidation, “‘cause you see it gets on the lungs and does a tremendous number on the lungs.” I’m sure that is just the piece of clinical insight that epidemiologists across the world have been waiting on. But the bigger and more glaring point here is that the President of the United States may have just suggested injecting disinfectant. Trump’s administration has defended the comments arguing that they were sarcastic. Firstly, great time and place to be sarcastic Mr.President, but moreover, it blatantly was not sarcasm. The disinfectant companies who felt the need to come out and clarify that their products should not be ingested, inhaled or consumed (Bleach 101 right there) certainly did not feel it was sarcasm.
After taking a step back, I keep floating between laughter and a genuine resurgence of that same initial shock I felt from when I first heard the comments. The content of what Trump said was staggeringly concerning and dangerous. But once again, it is even more worrying due to the power of the podium from which it was suggested. Even if it was sarcastic, it is dangerous for this rhetoric to have come from Trump as the President, it is irresponsible, and whether he was mislead or was the subject of misinterpretation, the fact remains that he used the words disinfectant and “by injection” within the same sentence. The mother of all Presidential cock ups.
It will not, and has not gone unnoticed, the world really did stand still, and in the momentary awe struck silence, if you listened really close, you could hear Joe Biden salivating as he rubbed his hands as the presidential race flipped completely on it’s head. It’s still early days, but Trump’s comments and general handling of the pandemic have been monumentally beneficial in their ineptitude for the Biden campaign. The wind is surely knocked out of the MAGA sails, and I imagine many Americans are ready to jump ship, unwilling to support a president capable of such linguistic catastrophe. Trump has forged his Ozymandias, but only four years have passed, and the sands of his careless presidential calamity have already destroyed his legacy, leaving a sunken, suntanned and shattered visage.
A scorcher of a week in American politics. Biden’s after-sun has worked, the DNC no longer feeling the Bern of genuine progressive change in America
Mark the calendars folks, April 8th 2020. The day America resigned itself to another presidential campaign defined by super-PACs, and a frustrating commitment to preserving the financial interests of an ineluctable elite. Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination for the 2020 Presidential election and the implications are quite severe.
Firstly, to discuss what Bernie represented and why it’s important that he got so far. There was a reason after all that people were feeling ‘the Bern’. American presidential politics, and indeed the entire political system is dominated by red and blue, elephants and donkeys, Republican and Democrat. This bi-partisan domination is an inherent flaw in the democratic credentials of a nation defining itself as the champion of democratic values. The flaw is that it doesn’t offer much of a scope come election time. There are divergences within each party, yes, and quite broad ones at that, but at the end of the day people are bound to the party by the unrelenting and increasingly powerful role of the party whip (See: House of Cards Season One and Frank Underwood’s dementing portrayal of the whip system.) The strengthening of the Whip and the increasing reliance on party support and funding to ensure re-election, combined with the cowering and submissive nature of the career politician to financial prowess means that despite internal party divisions, it will always boil down to the question of Democrat or Republican. For those who don’t agree? Look to the stalemate caused by differing party affiliations between the bicameral legislatures and the executive. If the party system accommodated for a range of opinion, this stalemate wouldn’t happen, but it does – pretty much every two years.
Enter Bernie. An independent senator from Vermont. That word, independent, is mega for what it represented. Sanders was independent of the party system, he ran under the democratic nominee in the name of logistical common sense, but he was not a democrat. He was not subsumed by the flawed fallacy of democracy via the two party system. It is in the sense that Bernie was outside of this fallacy that we see why he was important and his independent candidacy getting so far in two consecutive nominee races represents a wave of something different, positivity and change.
Bernie represents more than a break from the two party system, my favourite Bernie Sanders quality, was his opposition to the campaign funding structure which dominates the presidential election every four years. Political Action Committees (PACs) and Super PACs. Sanders rejected PACs in favour of a grassroots, supporter funded campaign, made ever virally popular by the meme in which he is “once again asking for our financial support.” But it was amazing that Sanders did this and got so far, and I would argue in fact, that it was due to his reluctance to take PAC money, that he failed to obtain that democratic nomination, twice. I argue this because PACs dominate wherever they are most abundantly deployed, they allow donations up to and including unlimited. They allow complete financial domination in the interest of the wealthiest corporations and individuals. Presidential candidates are ultimately accountable, not to the legislatures, not to the people, but to their donors or else quite simply, they’ll lose their donation and they’ll lose the next nomination, alas the roll of the subservient career politician comes into play once again. In this sense Sanders’ grassroots funding meant he was directly and genuinely accountable not to any corporate interests, but to the people who supported him and the people to which he would serve President. God bloody forbid that the financial elite allow the notion of a presidential candidate accountable to the people who may pursue genuine change on behalf of the common man, absolutely bloody not. The logistical action taken by financial elites in response to the Bern? Extinguish it, flood the primaries and other nominees with PAC money and endorsements. Bernie didn’t stand a chance against the unrivalled financial determination of the 1%.
Bernie was an all-round change, a different brand of politics. A genuine brand of politics. His motto, “Not me. Us” is somewhat endearing due to the sincerity implied in its tone and the message behind it. It is so incredibly genuine, and it couldn’t contrast more the egotistical centre of the universe currently occupying the Oval office. Bernie was the most vocal main candidate on climate change and the pursuance of a new green deal involving a movement towards 100% renewable energy. A Medicare For All system which would have substantially transformed the archaic, draconian and corrupted nature of healthcare in the U.S. An ambitious student loans reform platform. Overhauling the justice system and ending paid private prisons. Wall street reform. Gun laws reform – but not prohibition. PAC and voter suppression reform. And of course, one of his most important and significant issues, taxing extreme wealth and preventing large scale tax avoidance.
To promote policies of taxing extreme wealth, preventing tax loop holes and minimising tax income inequality will always be to inevitably drive a proverbial nail into one’s own campaign coffin, given the nature of how and by who campaigns are funded. But Bernie did it anyway because he truly believed in it, like he did with every single one of his policies. He truly felt sincerely and strongly about each policy on his agenda, and in return his supporters felt that sincerity and they truly felt the Bern. He also vocally wanted to legalise marijuana which probably garnered a fair deal of additional mobilisation.
Bernie’s genuine promotion of progressive liberal change and economic remodelling represented an exciting new possibility in America’s relatively youthful existence. There exists a great swell of dissatisfaction with the status quo in the U.S and rightfully so. The odds are stacked inequitably against anyone not born into a position of relative privilege. The American dream is dead, long dead. Its promise of equal opportunity buried under the carcass of a crippling and ever growing wealth gap. It exists solely within the realm of a dream, a topic to be discussed amongst students of English literature reading Fitzgerald’s Gatsby or Steinbeck’s Mice And Men. Bernie offered an answer to the dissatisfaction, a different avenue, a different hope, a revival of a new American dream cast from an economic system designed to engender satisfaction amongst the working class while stripping the elite of their undeserved privilege.
To prove that this dissatisfied electorate exist, one only has to rewind the clocks four years. To a certain other presidential candidate who ran and gained support on the premise of changing the status quo, overhauling the hill and “draining the swamp.” Yes, President Trump is the result of the exact sentiment it would take to defeat his populist presidency, the embodiment of a dissatisfied desperate electorate looking for any way out. Bernie genuinely offered this. Trump pretended to offer this but ostensibly did not and, Biden? Well he doesn’t even pretend, he just simply does not offer this.
Biden represents the antithesis of Bernie. They might have both been running under the DNC for the nomination. But as two politicians their paths have been fundamentally different. Bernie has carved a campaign of renowned activism, constantly and consistently fighting for his agenda of social, political and economic change. Biden came to the fore not through his own sculpting of image and hardwork like that of Senator Sanders, rather Biden rode the wake of the Obama presidency. Arguably, Biden would not have been where he is now, if it was not for his role within the Obama administration as VP, and a swathe of internet memes popularising his image as a cool and down to earth Obama companion. Sanders is ferocious, fiery and admirable when debating, and that stems from his sincerity. Biden on the other hand, he’s relatively uninspiring, fairly toothless, his presentation lacks sincerity like that of Bernie, you can tell there is a substantial input of calculations on behalf of his aides into each word leaving his mouth.
Because of this Biden fails to muster up an image like that of Sanders. I do not question Biden’s commitment to his desire to become president, but he just isn’t as ferocious as Sanders. Without falling into the bear trap of predicting American presidential campaigns, I do feel Biden will struggle against Trump where Sanders wouldn’t have. Presidential campaigns are a dirty and entrenched battleground, for which Trump will be honing his tactics as we speak, tactics Sanders would weather and combat effectively, but tactics unsuited to the placidity of Biden. Granted, Biden has previous and invaluable successful campaign experience alongside Obama, but he did not face someone of Trump’s mudslinging calibre. A man who will knock the tone down ten-fold and pull plenty of punches beneath the belt, and for which his supporters will reward him well.
Ultimately, Biden fails where Bernie wouldn’t have in that he just offers more of the same. An uninspiring brand of established U.S politics that has created a dissatisfied majority so large that it literally voted for Trump. Trump, a man who words fail to describe, a man whose Presidency will not be forgotten, not for its grandeur but because he would do things like telling his supporters to “knock the crap out of ‘em” referring to protestors. Which by the way, is a horrific insult to the very first amendment of the U.S constitution, like seriously that’s basically rule one, and Trump crapped all over it and got cheered for it. If politics has gotten to a stage where this sort of populist rhetoric branded under Trump is winning in favour of the status quo, then it is time for responsible political change that will protect democratic values and an equality of rights as well as address the source of dissatisfaction. Bernie offered this brand of responsible change, but he was denied, for a second time, in favour of sleepy joe swallowing up them super PACs.
Get ready for an uninspiring, debilitating and demoralising 2020 election, its status quo Joe vs The Donald.
Back to the shadows, Mr.Corbyn.
“Ohhhh Jeremy Corbyn, Ohhhhh Jeremy Corbyn, Ohhhhh Jeremy Corbyn”, I will remember this ridiculous chant for decades. It will remind me of one of the worst Labour leaders since the war. In four and a half years, Jezza has accomplished nothing, nada, zip, zilch, apart from adding a few spotty radicals to the Labour Party, many of whom helped him achieve the position in the first place. They are the same people who got the #ThankYouJeremy trending on Twitter throughout the week. Misty eyed socialists saying, “Thank you for letting me believe in Britain again” or “Thank you for being the best Prime Minister we never had”. There was a reason he was never Prime Minister, and that is because he was utterly useless at appreciating the different factions of the very party he led. Corbyn’s biggest failures lie across 3 key events: Brexit, the 2017 General Election and the 2019 General Election.
The phenomenon that has ripped the British reputation to shreds over the past 4 years has been Brexit. There are several important features that coalesced to bring about the British divorce from the EU, but none more-so than Corbyn’s dithering, pathetic stance on the entire saga. Will Straw, the Executive Director for Britain Stronger in Europe, was constantly left in limbo by the Labour leadership. The Trotsky to Corbyn’s Lenin was not the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, but rather a low-profile advisor by the name of Seumas Milne. He decided who got to talk to Corbyn, when they got to talk to him and what they got to talk about. Straw and the biggest “Remain” groups were constantly left in the dark due to the fact that they simply couldn’t get to their leader. The relationship between Milne and Corbyn was not the same as the current Johnson/Cummings dynamic. That is because it is very clear that Cummings is in charge at Tory HQ. “Do this, Boris” … “Yes Dom, right away Dom. Anything else Dom?” Milne took a different approach of whispering sweet nothings in Corbyn’s ear, “Yes Jezza, you want this, this is our line, the revolution is coming Jezza.” And of course, Corbyn was seduced due to his own romanticised politics. If Brexit was the price to be paid in order to get their own politburo into Downing Street, so be it. And it came to pass, the British public succumbed to Brexit. Former Labour strongholds were battered in the Northern parts of the country, confused and vulnerable voters followed what the papers told them when they should’ve been encouraged by the self-acclaimed saviour of the working classes that their interests were best served within the EU. But not to worry, this is going to tear the Tories apart in the next few years. The working class is going to truly realise what “the establishment” is and how it works against them, JC will roll out policies that will have the fat cats quaking in their boots and he will lead the masses of Britain into a new dawn. Right? Right? Wrong. As Labour legend Alan Johnson puts it, “Corbyn couldn’t lead the working class out of a paper bag.”
Fast forward a year to 2017. After pressure has been put on her by her two senior advisors, Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy, the new leader of the Conservative Party Theresa May, decides to hold a General Election in the hope of obtaining a greater majority. Here it is, Jeremy’s chance to pounce. And he couldn’t have wished for a better opponent in the coffee fuelled, WD40 guzzling Maybot… Kerchunk…Kerchunk…Kerchunk, she moved across the campaign trail with all the grace of an industrial washing machine. Errors such as the Dementia Tax and an inability to create a personable leader meant the Tories were very much on the back foot. This should be like shooting fish in a barrel. Throw the liberals a bone, give them something that means they can justify voting for a leader who the tabloids have branded “an IRA sympathiser”. Surely in doing this, he wouldn’t lose votes from his most ardent supporters. But alas, he pursued politics that whilst good in theory, were not ultimately enough to get Labour in. Take Trident for example. Nobody likes Trident, but to say that he would scrap it was just one in a catalogue of unsellable policies to the public. Corbyn was in a constant loop of biting his own lip, but instead of realising that it was sore, his supporters told him he looked dead sexy and should keep going. And in fairness, of the 3 biggest failures of Corbyn’s time, this is probably the least damaging one. Many journalists and news outlets said it was a huge success for the Labour Party, gaining 21 seats was not to be sniffed at. This spin on it made it possible for him to hold onto the leadership. Labour was still in opposition and Jeremy had failed to get into number 10.
Take 2. Election 2019. Boris VS Jezza. A modern-day Ivan Drago VS Rocky Balboa. Surely this fight has to be fought on a leave vs remain all over again. Johnson pushing for a majority to ensure a seamless exit from the EU, Corbyn fighting for a majority to prevent it. But Mr Corbyn let us down all over again. In some vague, treading on eggshell policy, Labour went “neutral”. And some academics thought this might just work, a “neutral” line allows for the Labour Party to consume both Leavers and Remainers. The likes of Lisa Nandy can hold onto her strong mandate in Brexit supporting Wigan whereas London based remain constituencies can feel safe in the hands of Labour. But Corbyn and the academics were wrong in espousing this view and very wrong. They underestimated a key demographic of the 2019 election. Those who voted leave and regretted it were drowned out by a massive group of Remainers who were just sick of it. Exhausted by it. Fed up of fighting and Brexit being front-page news every day. The Tory “Get Brexit Done” appealed to them. Not because they wanted Brexit, but they simply wanted to put it behind them. The Labour manifesto was held under water by the press, who poked holes in the Brexit stance, Corbyn’s personal views and the anti-Semitism which was blowing through the party like a tornado. Some would argue that poor Jezza was unfairly treated by the press, but that has always been the case with Labour leaders. He is not special in that regard. But he is special in providing the worst election for Labour since 1935 and allowing Johnson to romp to a 78-seat majority. It is thanks to Corbyn that the Tories now have free reign for the next 5 years. His obsession with getting his own house in order led to the neglect of Labour’s voters that will require a huge effort to remedy. The nature of politics in the UK always came second for him, prioritising his dream and vision above the reality of what it takes to win elections.
I believe that Jeremy Corbyn is a good man. He is honest, hardworking for his constituents, vocal in what he believes in and has a large following that adores him for this. But he belongs on the backbenches. It is where he has always belonged. For all his qualities, he does not have a single leadership bone in his body, and it is a travesty that for the past 4 and a half years he has been the Labour leader. No charisma, no humour, no compromises, an inability to turn a phrase and a lack of public agility. To those who didn’t love Corbyn, he was notably unlikeable. A top-button open, scruffy academic was never going to be fit to lead to the country.
But there is hope for Labour once again. It comes in the form of a statesmanlike socialist in diplomatic clothing. I believe Keir Starmer has what it takes to steady the ship. He will have an ability to embarrass Johnson at the dispatch box in a way that would make one reminisce of Tony Blair and John Major. There is a likeability and charm to Starmer that Johnson simply can’t hope to match. If he does it right, I’m sure the new Labour leader can present Boris as the fat little brother who likes to burn things with a magnifying glass. But he has to sort out the internal divisions first. That will take a long time and the Corbynistas cannot be cast aside. That will have to be progressively done. I suppose the key difference between Corbyn and Starmer is that one believes it is better to be outside the tent pissing in, whereas the other knows they must be on the inside to make any real change.
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