By Ben Pensant
Since publishing a much-lauded apology for voting to leave the European Union, I’ve now completed my journey from bigoted moron to bigoted intellectual. And what a journey. Joining the regressive left has opened my eyes to cerebral experiences I previously thought were the preserve of the sophisticated, such as boycotting Israeli houmous or throwing fire extinguishers at coppers. However, while I intend to carry on shaming myself for past transgressions – like that time I agreed with Nadia Dorries or the fancy dress party I attended thirty years ago wearing offensive green face paint and a sombrero – I will also use this blog to educate working-class racists by celebrating principled politicians, intelligent left-wingers and Ken Livingstone.
(By the way I was dressed as Busquets, the cartoon jalapeno and Columbia World Cup mascot, and I’m deeply ashamed that even at the age of 9 I was thoughtlessly appropriating the heritage of both Latin americans and anthropomorphic moustachioed chilli peppers.)
But first let’s deal with the baddies. When you join a new group you quickly learn the importance of togetherness, especially when that group is full of people who’d pelt you with ethically correct quail eggs if you so much as hinted St Jezza’s beard could do with a wash. Which makes it all the more shameful when two high-profile group members turn informer, abandoning the all-important left-wing narrative in favour of that cowardly manoeuvre beloved by non-Corbynites: making their own minds up.
As is painfully apparent, I’m talking about former economic advisor to John McDonnell-turned-Blairite traitor Danny Blanchflower and former Corbynite Guardian journalist-cum-Neo Liberal turncoat Owain Jones. For having the gall 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 punishment involving gulags and ice-picks.
Blanchflower – so deep in the pockets of the PLP he might as well move into Tim Watson’s jockstrap – joined the other New Labour quislings by turning on Corbyn in the back when he most needed him. Introduced to much fanfare in September 2015, Blanchflower – with one eye on the House Of Lords or a spot on Den Of Dragons – 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’.
Clearly Blanchflower had been radicalised by the right-wing media’s campaign to smear the Labour Leader 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 perhaps take a leaf out of his ‘very good friend’ Ibrahim Hewitt’s book and make it law that any woman sexually assaulted on public transport is stoned to death for adultery. It’ll be popular with Corbyn’s more exotic supporters and do wonders for reducing the prison population.
But back to Blanchflower, about whom there was always something sinister. The signs were there last September when Corbynites lauded him and heralded his endorsement as proof of Corbyn and McDonnell’s economic nous. The fact that the intelligent 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 probably should’ve met more than twice in ten months) tells you everything about the lengths my new friends will go to to protect the Cult Of Jezza.
But worm-that-turned Blanchflower has nothing on snake-in-the-grass Owen Jones. In a rambling, incoherent blog-post entitled ‘Questions All Jeremy Corbyn Supporters Need To Answer’, Jones has done what we always suspected he would when the going got tough: betrayed his comrades. We knew this would happen of course, even when we were cheering his speeches and forwarding his articles all over Twitter as unshakeable evidence of Jezza’s awesomeness. But despite Jones campaigning for Corbyn and writing endearingly deluded attempts to excuse everything from the Labour leader’s defence of Islamists to his Arsene Wenger-esque approach to antisemitism, it appears Jones ha spat the dummy and took the Blairite coin.
I won’t bore you with quotes from his spineless article because a) he doesn’t deserve the publicity and b) I haven’t actually read it. But as all contemporary leftists know, I don’t need to: since submitting to the Kinder Gentler Politics I’ve realised that listening to criticism and encouraging debate is way less satisfying than calling someone a ‘red Tory’ and throwing a breezeblock through their window.
However, during my skim-read I did notice Jones’ 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 speaks volumes, 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. Kapeesh?
Jones doesn’t mention if he plans to back Owain 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 him receiving 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 ITV comedy namesakes neither have yet had the good grace to die of a heart attack. Give it time. It’s the only way Jones could atone for committing the ultimate sin on the modern left: he admitted he was wrong. Scab.
Which brings us to Shadow Club Secretary Diane Abbotts, who has never been wrong about anything. Ever. And even if she was she sure as hell wouldn’t admit it. 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 Bliar or Harriett Hartman – for doing the same. What the haters couldn’t grasp was that she was selflessly 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 rich kids in private schools and esteemed universities where on do you think the next generation of Labour MPs, BBC executives and Guardian columnists are going to come from? Brigadoon?
As ever, Lady Di stuck to her guns and history 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’s 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 Diane right. Again.
Because this is a woman of conviction. Not a conviction for failing to declare earnings of over 17 grand for sitting next to Michael Portaloo on the telly, you understand. No, I mean conviction as in belief, confidence, and an ability to say stuff like ‘Chairman Mao did more good than harm’ with a straight face. Because when you know you’re right it doesn’t matter how silly your claims are. Just as it doesn’t matter that that Mao quote only 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 capable guards than our Diane.
Which is why it was so heartening last week to see her defending former fuck-buddy Jeremy Corbyn. Taking time out from holding meetings about Syria in which everyone is allowed to speak except Syrians and attending anti-Israel marches alongside Hamas-supporting Al Asda founder and Corbyn 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 refugee camps she recently visited in Turkey – where it’s alleged she donned a headscarve, shook a few hands and posed for a photo in 15 minutes flat before retiring to the hotel pool for some much-needed R&R – she detailed her findings last week in a Guardian column titled ‘Left Wing Insurgencies Led By Jeremy Corbyn And Bernie Sanders Won’t Go Away’.
A skilled communicator, Diane brilliantly wooed her audience with two masterstrokes. The first was her clever us of the word ‘insurgencies’, guaranteed to inspire a nostalgic grin among regressive leftists as they recall that halcyon war era when their beloved Iraqi insurgency was bravely upholding the traditions of democracy and socialism by bombing polling stations and murdering trade unionists.
Determined to humour the hard left, straight-talking Diane went on to draw parallels between a thunderstorm and the announcement of Hilary 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, sticking two fingers up at the bible and patriarchy by using the female pronoun when referring to an entity whose existence is entirely unproven. This bold use of ‘she’ sent a clear message to misogynists, transphobes and religious conservatives that their days of controlling the grammar narrative are OVER. I look forward to Diane defending the Religion Of Peace by referring to Mighty Mo as ‘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 synagogue on fire with Labour’s friends in CAGE and The Muslim Council Of Britain.
But the main purpose of Diane’s article was to point the similarities between Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Saunders – ie they’re socialists, they don’t like wearing ties, and they’re both old enough to remember when fire was invented – while sidestepping foreign policy for the benefit of leftists who would be horrified to learn that Bernie doesn’t share the Dear Leader’s love of authoritarian regimes and religious fascists.
Indeed Saunders is a longstanding 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 unless it’s committed by his supporters. But Bernie’s secret weapon is his growing band of middle-class devotees and their habit of starting fights, shutting down rallies, and shouting over speeches given by people they disagree with then screaming ‘micro aggression!’ when someone tells them to shut their cake-holes. In other words: Corbynites with nicer teeth.
And when it comes to the values of Bernie’s fanbase they couldn’t be more like their UK counterparts if they turned up to rallies singing The Red Rag in ethically sourced donkey jackets. “Many described themselves as Bernie or bust…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” wrote Diane. Indeed, it’s a testament to their principles that much like Labour have handed power to the Tories for at least nine years in the name of ideological purity, Bernie’s fans’ hatred of Trump is so strong they’re planning to make him President.
But the greatest similarity between the two men is the way they’ve mobilised youth: “The Labour Party is the biggest it has ever been, with more than 450,000 members” gushed Diane, 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.
Similarly, Bernie has inspired the young despite losing the nomination, ensuring 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 that ‘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 wear masks and assault people while blaming their opponents for making them wear masks and commit assault people is a worthy consolation. I’m sure Bernie beams with pride when he sees what his cheerleaders have achieved.
But what Diane 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 column inches written about Corbyn’s warmth, decency and allotment can testify. Similarly, Bernie is held in such awe by his fans that they only agreed to pipe down during the convention 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 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 the insurgency is here to stay, though with Saunders conceding to Clinton it appears that when Jezza becomes PM it may be an altogether more controversial figure he is forced to play golf with at Camp Daniel. Still, Corbyn has plenty of experience in talking to lunatics and there’s much that he and Trump have in common: privileged upbringing, obsession with Islam, dislike of NATO, admiration for dictators, and a subculture of fans with some strange ideas about Jews.
The future is bright 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 OJ and Blanchflower had shown an ounce of the loyalty displayed by Abbott or Shami Chakrabbitslims perhaps they would be in receipt of a peerage rather than getting 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 Begbie as ‘a wonderful advocate for human rights’ – was deservedly given a peerage by Corbyn last week for making the enquiry into Labour antisemitism vanish. Her dedication was also apparent when she put her reputation on the line by quashing the damning Baroness Royall Report into antisemitism at Oxford then lying about it.
All of which shames rats like Blanchflower and Jones. 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. Desperate stuff 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 and a beret.
So thank god Shami and Diane know that fighting the good fight involves a lot more than writing columns and giving speeches. And it’s no surprise that it’s a pair of Womens of Colour who’ve stuck to their principles while two gutless white males turn Judas. As well as being both superior to and more oppressed than men (especially Abbott, as illustrated by that traumatic, unsuccessful attempt to flag a taxi in London a few years ago) women have always been integral to the British hard left, as anyone familiar with the Workers Revolutionary Party of the ’70s and its enigmatic leader Jerry ‘No Means Yes’ Healy would agree.
As Diane 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 in the name of social justice. Left-wing youths in the UK have even started their own versions of American movements such as Black Lives Matter, whose British branch recently staged protests outside airports to commemorate the death of Martin Duggan, killed by police in 2010.
As everyone who remembers that heady summer will recall, his death was the catalyst for hundreds of peace-loving Londoners to react as only 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 without getting shot dead by the pigs. By blocking roads around Heathrow BLMUK brilliantly highlighted the issue of young black men turning to violent crime by making normal people miss their flights to Tenerife and Ibiza. Every little bit helps.
Which is why the Dear Leader and his allies are so important. Because since 17 million idiots voted to leave the EU, Labour are the only thing in Britain worth smiling about. 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 PM-in-waiting…
Yes we can.