Jeremy Corbyn, Keir Starmer.
Does anyone know what the Labour Party is doing? Are they still going? Maybe they were wound up in November, and have retrained as yoga instructors or pig farmers.
Occasionally someone on the news mentions that the Labour Party has commented on something, such as: “Labour’s shadow minister for education said, ‘I am currently out of the office until 19 May. If your inquiry is urgent, please contact Mrs Tilbury at the Post Office and she will try to suggest a policy.’”
Luckily it’s been a calm year, with only the usual issues no one takes much notice of, so it’s been an ideal time to stay quiet.
One task of an opposition is to “hold the government to account”. But Labour have said it’s difficult to criticise the government during a pandemic. That’s understandable, because when a government causes the worst rate of infections in the world, you shouldn’t criticise that, as it can seem ungrateful. And when it offers tens of billions of pounds’ worth of contracts to companies that were often useless, and usually connected to people in the government, it would be churlish to find fault.
And how do you criticise people such as Dominic Cummings and Jacob Rees-Mogg? Whatever you say about them, their behaviour is above criticism. Keir Starmer criticised the government on one issue, insisting they “should have opened the schools earlier”. So the one thing all scientists agree was done too early, he attacked them for doing too late.
Maybe he should have tried something similar with Dominic Cummings, complaining he didn’t drive far enough. He could have surprised Boris Johnson by saying: “Mr Speaker, if the prime minister’s senior adviser was concerned about his eyes, he should have tested them far more thoroughly. Instead of simply driving to Barnard Castle, he should have driven to Aberystwyth and organised a rave with 500 of his mates.”
It seems as if their idea for winning votes back is to hope the Conservatives are so terrible that everyone chooses Labour instead, even if they’ve disappeared. It might work, and in four years time, millions of people will say, “I’d like to give that other lot a go, that no longer seem to exist.”
Part of the problem is it’s hard to work out what Labour is trying to do. Who are they trying to persuade? And what are they trying to persuade anyone about? It’s like someone who opens a shop that only sells Lego and marmalade – no one can work out what market they’re aiming for.
They have one strategy they seem sure of, which is to distance themselves from Jeremy Corbyn. Anything Corbyn approved of has to be discarded, including Corbyn himself. At their next policy review they’ll support napalming allotments.
The Green Party is now at 8 per cent in the polls across Britain, so Labour has lost a couple of million supporters there, but they’re probably only young passionate people so they can afford to let those ones go.
If you suggest Labour could be doing better, you invite retorts such as “He’s doing better than Corbyn”. This is possibly true, but that’s quite a low bar anti-Corbyn Labour supporters have set, to do better than the person they derided as the worst person ever. It’s like a football manager brought in because the team lost 7-0, announcing, “Never again will we be humiliated like this. Under my leadership I’m determined to lose 6-0.”
Similarly if you suggest Corbyn made any mistakes at all, you’re told by some of his supporters to “Piss off and join the Tories, you traitor”, a debating point that might need smoothing down at some point.
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