By Ben Pensant
Last week, against my better judgement, I put down The New European, switched off my iPhone and ventured to a place where few modern leftists ever go: The Real World. I won’t be doing that again. Because despite only getting as far as my local, nothing prepared me for the sheer level of apathy, ignorance and respect for other people’s views that exists outside of social media. It’s hell.
Within an hour of eavesdropping I learnt that not all Brexit voters are racists, most Remainers accept the referendum result and working-class communities aren’t rife with snarling bigots roaming the streets assaulting immigrants with rolled-up copies of The Daily Mail. Needless to say, I didn’t even have time to scour the floor in search of loose peanuts before I scarpered and tearfully reported the landlord for inciting hatred.
However, one thing that intrigued me was how different Real World Corbyn supporters are to those of us who spend our days on Twitter excusing anti-Semitism, abusing people who ask questions we can’t answer and blocking anyone who presents evidence of Jezza’s fondness for terrorists and dictators.
Indeed, it appears that Real World Labour voters have no interest in Marxism, couldn’t care less about Palestine and wouldn’t know the lyrics to The Red Flag if you forced them to sing it while queuing in the snow for tepid soup as Emily Thornberry patrols the line twatting anyone who strays off-key or dies with an electric cattle-prod.
Apparently, some Labour voters simply want a party that represents the working-class and believe Corbyn can provide that. Others desire change after two decades of neoliberalism and are willing to overlook Jezza’s faults to support someone they feel has their backs. Many have concerns about the shadow cabinet’s incompetence but are hopeful that once in government they’ll become serious politicians and deliver their promises. And there are even some who want Corbyn to win but will accept the result without crying, blaming Putin or throwing fire extinguishers at police officers.
You don’t need me to tell you that when the revolution comes all of the above will be among the first against the fucking wall.
Because there are no half-measures when to comes to the Dear Leader. And the gutlessness of these vanilla cretins was enough to convince me that Real World-dwellers are ill-prepared for the fight against Tory fascism. You’re either with us or against us: total submission or none at all. You think it’s a coincidence we’ve got such a hard-on for radical Islam?
The so-called Corbyn groupies who occupy this bleak underworld are even worse than Blairites. Because they know fine well what’s at stake yet still won’t submit to the Bearded Angel of Islington. With nary a Momentum mug or a death threat to their names the passive ‘support’ of these nuggets has arguably done more harm than good. Meanwhile us true Corbynites are out there selling badges, calling people ‘Zios’ and countering evidence of Jezza’s support for Hamas and Iran by repeatedly screaming ‘what about Saudi Arabia?’. Some of these turncoats are even friends with Tories for Christ’s sake.
And mark my words, if Corbyn loses it won’t be them putting in the hours and blaming everyone from the PLP to JK Rowling. No, it’ll be muggins here, while they float on like the social media illiterates they are, blissfully unaware that if they’d got off their arses and bullied people like the rest of us the best man might have won.
Well, I’ve got news for these fascism-enablers: Jezza neither needs nor wants your milquetoast ‘support’. If you want to know what REAL solidarity looks like, listen up. Because as I walked home from the pub in floods of tears it dawned on me the only way to compensate for the shameful inactivity of these pretend Corbynites was to ramp up my own efforts to ensure his victory. As any activist knows, door-to-door canvassing and engaging with the public are the most successful methods of winning hearts and minds. Which is why I opted to record a cover version of a ’90s alt-rock classic instead.
Think of it as an unofficial campaign anthem, a revolutionary call to arms or even just a low-key tribute to a bearded 68-year-old who combines a passion for human rights with support for theocrats who hang gays from cranes. Because to believe in Corbyn is to believe in peace, prosperity and the kind of demented economic policies that turned mega-rich Venezuela into an impoverished shit-hole. Jezza is the only man capable of delivering this and with his bold plans to borrow billions and drive businesses – and their taxes – out of the country, this utopia is tantalisingly close.
But we mustn’t be complacent, hence deploying the power of music to get the message across (while also boosting my ego and making me look mint). Because as Jezza’s recent onstage appearance with The Libertines illustrated, his infinity with rock’n’roll is plain to see. Especially if the rock’n’rollers in question are led by a recovering smack-head who would offer Rolf Harris a support slot if there was a warm blanket in it.
As Corbyn’s recent appearance on the cover of Kerrang! proves, there’s nothing more anti-establishment than left-wing politics, despite the fact that establishment institutions such as the BBC and the entire public sector are utterly consumed by left-wing politics. As for Jezza, well, you don’t get more counter-cultural than a privately-educated state-worshipping career politician whose government would impose more regulations than IPSO, the EU and the Ministry of Truth combined. And I haven’t even mentioned his snottily anarchic plans to turn Britain into a South American-style economic basket-case yet.
Because there are few stars more apt for a magazine about music, freedom and saying what the fuck you want than a man who has spent his career lauding regimes that ban music, suppress freedom and murder people for saying what the fuck they want. Indeed to this former metal-head, Corbyn’s kind face beaming back from the Kerrang! cover was the most beautiful image to appear in the mag since that photo of Mike Patton holding a plate of dog-shit.
So here it is. For the uninitiated, ‘Jeremy’ was a 1993 top ten hit for LA grunge icons Green Jelly. Taken from their debut album Nevermind, by the time of its release I’d already stopped listening to them and was exploring new horizons with my gothic funk band, plus two indie-pop and grindcore side-projects. But still, the undeniable power of ‘Jeremy’ couldn’t fail to move the teenage me, despite its blandness being a world away from the edgy, difficult stuff we were doing in HP Lovesauce, The Underpant Thieves and Shitbastard. Indeed, those groups were so esoteric all three split up before we’d even written a song, ensuring our places in post-rock history among those of us who refuse to measure a band’s worth on such vulgar concepts as whether or not they have any tunes.
Indeed, I’ve long believed that the second you write a song you’ve effectively sold out, which was highly convenient for me as I never finished one. But my natural flair for outside-the-box guitar-playing still needed an outlet, hence the decision to reinvigorate a tired standard. Which is a rare skill that few possess – Johnny Cash tried but failed, bless him – and not to be confused with performing other people’s songs because you can’t write your own.
Some have commented that this unique interpretation of ‘Jeremy’ has a complexity and non-linearness that was absent from the original. That’s not for me to say though they’re probably right. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if gossip had filtered down the musical grapevine that a newer, edgier, better version of ‘Jeremy’ was in the works. I mean, I hate to be morbid but I very much doubt it’s a coincidence that when word got out about my version Green Jelly frontman Chris Cornwall killed himself.
Still, having listened to the track repeatedly, like Chris I’m pretty hung up on it myself. Because my decision to update it for a hip, Corbyn-friendly audience seems to have been a masterstroke, with particular praise reserved for the lo-fi mix. And you don’t get more lo-fi than recording something on your iPhone. That’s right: no gimmicks, no strings, no overdubs, just me, my voice and a guitar. (I wasn’t even looking at my hands or anything.) Because you don’t need perfection when you have the story of one man’s journey from humble beginnings on a six-bedroom mansion to taking the world by storm.
Which many predict I will too once my fragile, experimental ditty gains traction. It’s not for me to say but even if that is the case – which it is – this isn’t about fame. Knowing I’ve helped a principled man gate-crash Number Ten is reward enough for me. Though if anyone wants to offer me shoes, pizza or fizzy pop for private performances I’m willing to negotiate.
As you’ll see, I gleefully subverted the predictable melody, unrestricted by such bourgeois concerns as playing guitar properly and singing in tune. And the eagle-eared will notice the subtle twists I’ve made to Cornwall’s hackneyed lyrics, vastly improved by me singing them and not him. Many have also observed the irony of the original’s subject matter – a high school shooting – which is deliciously apt as my protagonist is about to massacre the Tories.
But enough talking and time for some rawkin’. Listeners will notice there is little trace of my northern accent in the vocal performance, a natural by-product of joining the regressive left and instantly becoming more educated than your average working-class moron. But fear not, though I may now speak in the uniform, middle-class tones of every bedsit militant this side of The Tooting Popular Front, the passion and authenticity remains. Indeed, it’s arguably more passionately authentic now that I no longer spend my weekends watching Take Me Out, eating corned beef from the tin and setting fire to hijabs on the Metro.
As it happens, I’ve been told the outro vocals are reminiscent of the great Scott Walker. It’s not for me to say but be warned, they weren’t talking about the generic pop he did with his twin brother, such as ‘Unchained Melody’ or ‘The Sun Has Got His Hat On’. No, they were referring to his difficult, uncompromising work, like the savage, non-linear album he did with drone metal overlords Scumm))))0((((, a record so difficult and uncompromising no-one has ever actually listened to it.
But this isn’t about me: it’s about a man of principle. And if my heartfelt protest song convinces just one person that the only way to create a fairer society in which everyone is equally poor is to vote Corbyn then my work is done. Who knows, I may even inspire other musically-gifted Corbynites to ‘unlock their talent’, much like Jezza has pledged to do for ‘black, Asian and minority ethnic’ folk too pathetic to unlock it themselves without the help of rich white liberals. If so, a thank you from Labour HQ and a promise from the Dear Leader to lift his restraining order* would be nice but all in good time, brothers and sisters, all in good time.
*(Look, if you really don’t like people breaking into your house and stealing beard-shavings from the bin perhaps you should stop being so fricking awesome.)
At home drawing pictures of Tony Benn
Red Ken and Len, spitting on The Sun
Hands raised in a V, pointing at Margaret Thatcher
Kinnock didn’t give attention
And the fact was the party didn’t care
But King Jeremy of Shropshire, he ruled Islington
Jeremy spoke to Hamas today
Jeremy spoke to the IRA
The right-wing Murdoch media picking on the boy
Seemed a harmless little trot
But they unleashed a lion
Trimmed its beard and bit Yvette Cooper’s tit
How could I forget?
Then he hit them with a surprise win
Their jaws left hurting, dropped wide open
And on that day he flushed those Blairite turds
He wouldn’t sing the national anthem
And a tie was something the Dear Leader wouldn’t wear
King Jeremy the principled, he ruled Westminster
Jeremy spoke to Hezbollah today
Jeremy spoke to Assad today
But Jezza won’t speak to The Times Of Israel
He stands up for the Muslims, stands up for transgenders
Stands up for refugees, stands up for the benders
Stands up for bus-drivers, stands up for the bull-dykes
Stands up for Sharia, he stands up for all kinds
Even the Jews
All his life he’s fought anti-Semitism
And other forms of racism
Despite this he praises Jew-hating terrorists
And let’s not forget the clerical fascists
Castro was Jezza’s favourite socialist
Even though he persecuted trade unionists
So raise a glass of Cuban rum
Comrade Corbyn, your time has come…