Heroes & Villains

By Ben Pensant

Since publishing a much-lauded apology for voting to leave the European Union my journey from bigoted moron to liberal intellectual is almost complete. And what a journey it’s been. Joining the regressive left has opened my eyes to cerebral experiences I previously thought were the preserve of sophisticated academics, such as boycotting houmous from Israel or throwing fire extinguishers at policemen. However, while I intend to carry on shaming myself for past transgressions deemed socially unacceptable by contemporary liberals – like the time I said former Tory MP Edwina Currie was right about something or the fancy dress party I attended thirty years ago wearing green face paint and a sombrero – I also plan to use this blog to educate any passing working-class racists and celebrate the fight being fought by principled politicians, intelligent left-wingers and Ken Livingstone.

(By the way I was dressed as Pique, the cartoon jalapeno and 1986 Mexico World Cup mascot, and it disgusts me that even at the age of 9 my cultural appropriating white male privilege was riding roughshod over the sensitivities of Latin americans and anthropomorphic moustachioed chilli peppers)

But first let’s deal with the baddies. When you join a new group you learn very quickly the importance of sticking together, especially when said group is full of people who’d happily pelt you with ethically correct quail eggs if you so much as hinted Jeremy Corbyn’s beard could do with a wash. Which makes it all the more shameful when two high profile members of that group turn informer and abandon the all-important left-wing narrative in favour of that cowardly manoeuvre beloved by non-Corbynites: making their own minds up. Yes, as should be painfully apparent, I’m talking about former economic advisor to John McDonnell-turned-Blairite traitor David Blanchflower and former Corbynite Guardian journalist-cum-Neo Liberal turncoat Owen Jones. For having the bare-faced nerve to go off-message and speak their minds about the incompetence and unelectability of the current Labour Party the court of social media will judge them accordingly. Although word from Momentum HQ is that the top brass favour a more direct form of punishment involving gulags and ice-picks.

Blanchflower – so deep in the pockets of the PLP he might as well move into Tom Watson’s jockstrap –  joined the other New Labour quislings by stabbing St Jezza in the back when he needed him most. Introduced to much fanfare in September 2015, Blanchflower – clearly with one eye on either the House Of Lords or a spot on Dragon’s Den – resigned this week, pathetically claiming Labour ‘does not seem to have a credible economic plan’ and have ‘no chance of winning a general election now, in 2020, or at any other time’. Anyone could see that Blanchflower had been egged on by the right-wing media and their campaign to demonise and smear Corbyn by reporting his exact words on topics such as terrorism, man-hole covers and segregated seating on trains. Which, surprise, surprise, Corbyn was misquoted on. Though when he becomes Prime Minister he should take a leaf out of his ‘very good friend’ Ibrahim Hewitt’s book and pass a law stating any woman sexually assaulted on public transport is stoned to death for adultery. It’ll be popular with many of Corbyn’s supporters and do wonders for the prison population.

But back to Blanchflower, about whom there was always something sinister and rotten. The signs were there last September when Corbynites were proudly brandishing his name and heralding his endorsement as empirical proof of Corbyn and McDonnell’s economic nous. The fact that the intelligent and literate mind we gushed about then has now become a government shill not worth listening to – for pointing out that the committee he joined with much fanfare really should have met more than twice in ten months – tells you everything you need to know about the brave lengths my new friends will go to if it means protecting the Cult Of Jezza.

But Blanchflower is a mere worm that turned compared to snake in the grass Owen Jones. In a rambling, incoherent blog-post entitled ‘Questions All Jeremy Corbyn Supporters Need To Answer’, Owen has done what we always suspected he would when the going got tough: flown the nest and abandoned his comrades. We knew this would happen of course, even when we were cheering his speeches and forwarding his pro-Corbyn pieces all over Twitter as unshakeable evidence of Jezza’s basic decency. But despite Jones campaigning for Corbyn and writing increasingly desperate attempts to excuse everything from the Labour leader’s defence of Islamists to his Arsene Wenger-esque approach to anti-Semitism within the party it appears Jones has now spat the dummy and took the Blairite coin. I won’t bore you with quotes from his spineless article because he doesn’t deserve the publicity and I haven’t actually read it. But as all contemporary leftists know: I don’t need to. Since submitting to the ideology of the New Kinder Gentler Politics I’ve realised that listening to criticism and encouraging debate is much less satisfying than calling someone a Red Tory and throwing a breezeblock through their window. During my skim-read I noticed some of Owen’s questions to Corbyn supporters: ‘How can the disastrous polling be turned around?’, ‘What is the media strategy?’, ‘How would we deal with people’s concerns over immigration?’. The fact he even asks these pearlers speaks volumes about how out of touch he is but as a devout Corbynite of four weeks and counting let me clear them up: there is no disastrous polling, we don’t need a media strategy and the only people concerned about immigration are Ukip voters. Got that, OJ?

He doesn’t mention if he plans to back Owen Smith but it’s clearly only a matter of time before his transformation from principled socialist to evil Blairite is complete and I look forward to seeing him receive more abuse on Twitter from angry liberals who hung on his every word until he started saying stuff they disagreed with. And I’m sure Smith and Jones will make a good pair, it’s just a shame that unlike their BBC comedy namesakes neither of them have yet had the good grace to die of a heart attack. Give it time – it’s about the only way Jones could possibly atone for committing the ultimate sin as far as the modern left is concerned: he admitted he was wrong. The scab.

Which brings us to Shadow Health Secretary Diane Abbott, a woman who has never been wrong about anything. Ever. And sure as hell wouldn’t admit it if she was. But luckily she never has been. Ever. Not even when she sent her son to private school despite spending years castigating anyone who isn’t black or female – such as Tony Blair or Harriett Harman – for doing the same. What the haters failed to grasp was she was selflessly and unhypocritically planting seeds for her party’s future. As Brexit proved, the chances of finding the next generation of socialist statesmen in the uneducated cesspool of the racist working-class are non-existent. Without left-leaning kids filling out private schools and esteemed universities where on earth do you think the next generation of Labour MPs, BBC executives and Guardian columnists are going to come from? Wales?

As ever, Abbott stuck to her guns and history has judged her accordingly. As it did when she was smeared as a racist for Tweeting ‘white people love playing divide and rule. We should not play their game’. Predictably, white privileged males reacted by crying into their Union Jack underpants, little realising that it is only their white male privilege that allows them to criticise the assertion that ‘white people love playing divide and rule’. Which in turn reinforced the assertion that ‘white people love playing divide and rule’ which they did by abusing their white male privilege and crying into their Union Jack underpants. Thus proving Abbott right. Again.

Because let’s not forget this is a woman of conviction. Not a conviction for failing to declare earnings of over 17 grand for sitting next to Michael Portillo on the BBC, you understand. No, I mean conviction as in belief, confidence, and a willingness to make statements such as ‘Chairman Mao did more good than harm’ while still classing yourself as a liberal. Because when you know you’re right – as all regressive leftists do – it doesn’t matter how outlandish your claims are, just as it doesn’t matter that the Mao quote makes more sense if you replace the words ‘did’, ‘good’ and ‘harm’ with ‘killed’, ‘people’ and ‘Hitler and Stalin combined’. The narrative must be protected at all costs and there are few more adept at guard duty than our Diane.

Which is why it was so heartening last week to see her defending her boss, comrade and former fuck-buddy Jeremy Corbyn. Taking time out from her busy schedule of holding meetings about Syria in which everyone is allowed to speak except Syrians and attending anti-Israel marches alongside Hamas-supporting Al Aqsa founder and £10,000 Corbyn campaign donor Ismail Patel, she selflessly jetted off to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia so we didn’t have to. Spending more time in Philly than she reportedly did in the Syrian refugee camps she recently visited in Turkey – where it’s alleged she managed to don a headscarve, shake a few hands and pose for a photo in a record-breaking 15 minutes before retiring back to the hotel pool for some R&R – she detailed her findings in an article in the Guardian last week titled ‘Left Wing Insurgencies Led By Jeremy Corbyn And Bernie Sanders Won’t Go Away’.

Ever the skilled communicator, Abbott brilliantly judges her audience with two masterstrokes designed to appeal to the ideology of her readership. The first is her clever us of the word ‘insurgencies’, guaranteed to bring a nostalgic grin to the faces of Stop The War Coalition supporters as they recall that halcyon era after the 2003 war when the pacifist organisation’s favourite insurgency was bravely upholding the traditions of democracy and socialism by bombing polling stations and murdering trade unionists.

As if that wasn’t enough to humour the regressives, the first paragraph goes one better as straight-talking Abbott draws parallels between a thunderstorm and the announcement of Hillary Clinton as the Democrat’s presidential nominee. ‘If you were a Sanders supporter and of a religious bent, you might well have wondered whether it was god herself making clear her displeasure’ she wrote, gloriously sticking two fingers up at the bible and the patriarchy by using the female pronoun when referring to an entity whose existence is entirely unproven. This bold utilisation of ‘she’ was a clear message to misogynists, transphobes and religious conservatives that they no longer control the narrative where grammar is concerned. I look forward to a similar approach the next time Diane appears on TV to defend the Religion Of Peace by referring to Muhammad using the gender neutral pronoun ‘xe’ and positing the theory xe was an early pioneer of non-binary sexuality (when xe wasn’t marrying children and committing genocide). I’m sure it’ll go down like a mosque on fire with Labour’s progressive friends in CAGE and The Muslim Council Of Britain.

But the thrust of the article was Diane’s entirely unlaboured attempts to detail the similarities between Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, which appear to be that both men are socialists, neither like wearing ties and they are each old enough to remember when fire was invented. She carefully sidestepped foreign policy, presumably for the benefit of staunch Corbynites horrified that Sanders doesn’t share Our Leader’s love of authoritarian regimes and religious fascists. Indeed Sanders – like most American politicians in the pocket of them Rothschilds – is a long time defender of the state of Israel. Luckily he cancels that out by making crowd-pleasing comments about how white people don’t understand poverty and how violence is never justified apart from when it’s committed by his supporters in which case it is. But Bernie’s secret weapon is his growing band of middle-class followers and their habit of starting fights, shutting down rallies and shouting over speeches given by people they disagree with then whining about ‘micro aggressions’ when someone tells them to shut their fucking cake-holes. In other words – Corbynites with nicer teeth.

And when it comes to the values of Sanders’ fanbase they couldn’t be more like their UK counterparts if they turned up to rallies singing The Red Flag in ethically sourced donkey jackets. ‘Many described themselves as Bernie or bust’ wrote Abbott. ‘In other words they had no intention of voting for Clinton. Some even went in front of cameras to say they would rather vote for Trump’. It’s a testament to their principles that, just like Labour have handed power to the Tories for at least nine years in the name of ideological purity, Sanders’ fans hatred of Trump is so strong they’re willing to make him President.

But by far the greatest similarity between the two men is the way they’ve mobilised youth to swell the ranks of their party memberships. ‘The Labour Party is the biggest it has ever been, with more than 450,000 members’ gushes Abbott, and with good reason: the last time Labour had such high membership was in the late ’70s when the aforementioned ideological purity was prioritised over winning elections, a key factor in going on to lose four of them in a row. Sanders on the other hand has inspired the young to get politicised despite losing the nomination and it’s quite clear his lasting legacy will be, as Abbott puts it, ‘millions of people realising that a better way is possible and wanting to move beyond neo-liberalism’. It’s a shame the ‘better way’ didn’t involve taking control of the party like the far-left have with Labour. But inspiring a generation of political illiterates to don masks, break up meetings and commit acts of violence while blaming their opponents for making them don masks, break up meetings and commit acts of violence is a worthy consolation. I’m sure Bernie Sanders beams with pride when he sees what they’ve achieved in his name.

But what Abbott really wants everyone to know is that Jezmania and Berniefever ain’t going away. ‘Like Sanders, the left insurgency Corbyn is associated with is not about one man or a cult of personality’, she writes. Quite correct too, as all the reverential column inches written about Corbyn’s decency, principles and allotment can testify, to say nothing of the fact that Sanders is held in such awe by his cheerleaders that they only agreed to pipe down during the convention speeches after he texted delegates asking them to be ‘calm and respectful’. Combined with the ubiquity of ‘Jez We Can’ T-shirts and flags urging people to ‘Feel The Bern’ it’s quite clear that policy rather than personality is driving these movements and I’ll give you an example just as soon as I can remember one.

But in the meantime the insurgency is here to stay, though with Sanders conceding to Clinton it appears that when Corbyn becomes Prime Minister it may be an altogether more controversial figure he is forced to play golf with at Camp David. Still, Jeremy has plenty of experience in talking to lunatics and there’s much that he and Trump can bond over: shared obsession with Muslims, similarly privileged upbringings, mutual admiration for Vladimir Putin, utter contempt for the principles of NATO and the fact that both men have a subculture of fans with interesting ideas about Jews and women.

The future is bright either way and we should thank Diane for travelling halfway around the world on our behalf only to come back and write a column about how great her boss is. If Owen Jones and David Blanchflower had shown an ounce of the loyalty displayed by Abbott or Shami Chakrabarti perhaps one of them would be in receipt of a peerage rather than waiting to get hammered in a leadership election or writing 7000 word blogs no-one can be arsed to read.

As it stands, Shami – the former director of Liberty who once described Islamist CAGE founder Moazzam Begg as ‘a wonderful advocate for human rights’ – was deservedly given a peerage by Corbyn last week for her sterling work in making the enquiry into anti-Semitism within Labour go away. Her dedication was also apparent when she put her reputation on the line by quashing the damning Baroness Royall Report into anti-Semitism at Oxford then lying about it. All of which shames rats like Jones and Blanchflower who couldn’t even spell ‘loyalty’ never mind ‘Chakrabarti’. Predictably the gutter press treated this harmless quid-pro-quo as proof of Corbyn’s hypocrisy just because he claimed he wouldn’t hand out peerages and was in favour of scrapping them altogether. Desperate stuff from the plotters but ultimately futile as the only people who believe these lies are treacherous Blairites, Tory smear merchants and people who actually listen to what Corbyn says as opposed to swooning over his beard, daydreaming about show trials and wondering how cool he’d look in military fatigues with a huge cigar in his gob.

So thank god Shami and Diane know that fighting the good fight takes a lot more effort than writing columns or giving the odd speech. And it’s no surprise that it’s two women who have stuck to their principles while gutless alpha males like the two Owens turned Judas. As well as being simultaneously superior to and more oppressed than men (especially Abbott, as starkly illustrated by her deeply traumatic attempt to flag a taxi in London a few years ago) women have always been integral to the British left. The British hard left in particular, as anyone familiar with the Workers Revolutionary Party of the ’70s and its enigmatic leader Gerry ‘No Means Yes’ Healy would agree.

And as Diane brilliantly observed, this movement’s going nowhere. From campaigns to ban university speakers to petitions calling for people we disagree with to be sacked, the young and politicised are doing their bit to highlight the injustice that still exists in this most illiberal of liberal democracies. Angry left-wing youths in the UK are even starting their own versions of American movements such as Black Lives Matter, whose British branch recently staged protests outside airports across the country to commemorate the death of Mark Duggan, shot by police in 2011. As everyone who remembers that heady summer will recall, his death was the catalyst for hundreds of young peace-loving Londoners to react as only young, peace-loving Londoners can in moments of stress: by setting fire to shops and stealing flat-screen TVs. Duggan’s tragic death was also a turning point for this wretched country, as his senseless slaying confirmed that you can’t even be a gun-wielding, drug-dealing career criminal these days without getting shot up by the pigs. By blocking the main roads around Heathrow and Manchester BLMUK brilliantly highlighted the issue of young black men turning to violent crime by making normal people of all ethnicities miss their flights to Tenerife and Ibiza. Every little bit helps.

Which is why Corbyn and his allies are so important. Because since 17 million idiots voted to leave the EU Corbyn and Labour are the only things in Britain worth smiling at. And boy, is Britain smiling at Corbyn. But can we carry on smiling? Can we maintain our optimism in the post-Brexit landscape and endure the next four years until St Jezza ascends to his rightful place on the Number 10 throne? Well, call me a deluded optimist if you like but to quote a young, successful, charismatic head of state who shares much in common with the deeply unpopular, socially awkward, 68 year old Labour leader….

Yes we can.



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