I see you on the front pages, always a good sign that Labour are getting some lovely press. I see your trademark thick glasses and your new trim look, now more Roy Cylinderson than Roy Orbison. You’re always up for defending yourself, aren’t you? You’re the inertia to the party’s Momentum, always happy to suggest brave new policies and ideas that just happen to be the opposite of whatever Corbyn’s said that day.
Colour me surprised that we end the week firmly back on Murdoch’s track, focusing on the sort of petty internal tribalism that leaves the Tories sniggering into their monogrammed hankies. Handing the press a blank cheque to paint Labour as unelectable is as predictable as it is tedious, particularly in a week when Boris Johnson can’t go anywhere in public without showing himself up. Even David Cameron’s reappeared to stick his boar in, showing up his successor with as much shame as Blair tends to. Can we focus on any of that? Of course not. Instead we’ll focus on Jon Lansman’s latest idiocy and wonder aloud if the opposition are tearing themselves apart.
We’re rapidly hurtling towards a country so divided down partisan lines that it may never recover. The battle lines are being drawn for the final face-off, with the Liberal Democrats unsurprisingly deciding that hoovering up a few more seats is far more preferable to them than actually preventing that disastrous Brexit they were banging on about ten minutes ago. Revoking Article 50 has no hope of winning them an outright majority and they know it. From the third party of UK politics it’s as pointlessly divisive as Farage pushing towards No Deal and it does nothing but shore up the resilience of the Brexiteers who are now so firmly dug in you couldn’t persuade them out of their foxholes with napalm.
Corbyn’s stuttered and dithered towards his solution but it’s far and away the most pragmatic approach to an impossible question. He’s like a dwarf eyeing up the Brexit Sybian. He knows it’s going to hurt and he’s just trying to figure out the least damaging way to fuck himself. A second referendum is never going to satisfy the extreme fringes but at some point, unless parliamentary process fails entirely, they’re going to have to accept that there’s not a player at the table with a true mandate for their desired outcome. The middle ground and an olive branch to the Leave camp is the only sensible way out of the impasse.
Naturally, Tom Watson, we can rely on you to sneak into the room and snatch away the lubricant just as Corbyn finally starts unbuttoning his slacks. Just as he finally seems to have settled on a vaguely coherent Brexit policy you’re undermining him, reinforcing the fool notion that perhaps being careful with the glass sculpture of our fractured social landscape is less preferable than hurtling it across the room and hoping for the best. Not that Corbyn can really complain – he spent the lion’s share of his career as the dissenting voice at the back of the room, after all.
Which is why Lansman’s sneak attack on you is such bollocks, regardless of how frustrating you’ve been as the understudy plotting in the wings. In a more optimistic time you were democratically appointed by the members and that’s the only mechanism that should be used to oust you. There’s nothing wrong with being vocally against Brexit or the ongoing rumble of antisemitism but your grandstanding through the press is too often counterproductive. It’s clear you’d rather hitch Labour’s wagon to what is now unequivocally a Liberal Democrat policy than back the leader. That nobody’s told Jo Swinson that filling up your big wooden horse with Conservatives when they’re the ones you’re supposed to be attacking isn’t how the tactic works doesn’t seem to matter.
The point is that Labour aren’t supposed to look at Johnson sweeping aside his critics and see it as something to aspire to. Corbyn clearly agrees, now scrabbling as he’s been forced to in order to quash the motion and minimise the damage. It just never ends, does it? Labour should be focused on gearing up for an election and fucking hammering this awful government. Instead they’re back to square one, squabbling at a conference, opposing each other rather than one of the most rabidly right-wing and incompetent administrations ever forced upon this country.
And at the end of it all? The unlikely coalition no-one asked for – a reluctant Jeremy Corbyn having to embarrass himself by coming to the defence of one his biggest critics, even after Tom Watson gets a full house in Doing Exactly What The Tories Want You To bingo by shouting ‘Venezuela!’
Momentum only works when the tyres are all pulling in one direction. Every now and then, it’d be nice if they’d actually let Corbyn steer, rather than deciding for themselves on the direction he wants before yanking at the wheel.
As for you, Tom Watson? The knives are still out for you and if they keep coming, this is all just petrol on your bonfire, giving you everything you need to burn out gloriously on your way out of the door. The conflagration will be predictably righteous and intense, burning you to cinders, leaving nothing behind but ash and soot blacker than Justin Trudeau’s face at a college party.
You might be a pain in the arse but you’re still Labour. If they take that away from you, you’ll have no choice but to rise like a contrarian phoenix from the flames. Just in time to wander over to the other side of the aisle and sit down next to Chukka Umunna.
Jo Swinson hasn’t got a clue what she’s let herself in for, has she?
I see you, Tom Watson. I fucking see you.