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Monday, July 27, 2015 

Too sensible by half.

Something politicians often fail to understand, as is being demonstrated all too well by the Labour leadership election, is that the public doesn't expect them to be serious all the time all of the time.  Indeed, as demonstrated by Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson to name but two, not always being serious can often work spectacularly in their favour.  It probably won't lead to Downing Street, all things considered, but you might as well have some fun failing to get there.  It's certainly better than being permanently on message, permanently miserable as a result, and still failing.

When a member of the House of Lords is then caught in flagrante, snorting cocaine off the breast of a lady whose services he has procured for the evening, someone they have never heard of from an institution they don't care about, the immediate reaction is not to descend into bilious outrage, but to laugh.  And for damn good reason: regardless of what you think about drugs, prostitution, politicians, privacy, newspaper hypocrisy and all the rest, to see an old fart wearing a red bra and being wonderfully indiscreet, not realising he has been absolutely gloriously stitched up by the women he's paid a miserly £200 to essentially own for a couple of hours is hilarious.  Of course, the justification for exposing him isn't just that he's breaking the law while being in a position to alter said laws, it's also that he brings shame on parliament as a whole by acting in such a fashion, but most people aren't bothered in the slightest by such considerations.  The assumption, like it or not, is the majority if not all politicians are hypocrites and adulterers and moochers, and someone being confirmed as such in fact does relatively little to alter perceptions.  Acting like a maiden aunt after the fact is pointless: those disgusted were disgusted and disgusting anyway.

Which brings us back to said leadership contest, I'm afraid.  As evidenced by Tristram Hunt's article for the Torygraph at the weekend, the Blairite tendency's solution to everything is to be serious and sensible at all times.  One of a friend's most withering criticisms of someone we knew at school, one that has always stayed with me, was this person was too sensible by half.  They went through life not so much living it as doing what was expected of them at every turn.  This person is no doubt more successful than either of us, and we couldn't give a rat's cock.  Perhaps that just confirms we're both idiots.  Or, it might be there's more to life and also to politics than permanently doing what the serious people recommend you do, especially when it ought to have become self-evident that carrying on in such a fashion has not resulted in the benefits you were told it would.

Jeremy Corbyn's lead in nominations from constituency parties is not then because Ed Miliband, on whom everything and anything is being blamed, brought in a load of leftards convinced that if he won he'd immediately create a socialist utopia.  It's because they look at Corbyn, then they look at Burnham, Cooper and Kendall, and realise that if that's the best the supposed sensible, moderate, election winning centre of the party can come up with, they can keep them.  The reason that Diane Abbott got only 20 nominations from constituency parties 5 years ago and came dead last is because the alternatives were far, far more attractive.  The Blairites never forgave Ed for being just that little bit to the left of his brother and appealing to the heart as well as the head, and spent the rest of the parliament simmering with bitter resentment, convinced they were right and everyone else was wrong.  The defeat in their minds proved they were 100% right.

For them to be confronted now with Corbyn apparently in the lead, destined to win, only increases their rage and their determination to carry on, unwilling to consider if they might be wrong or if another approach is needed.  Not all of this is out of sheer bloodymindedness: the Graun for instance is not running all the anti-Corbyn pieces it has because it's a den of Blairites.  If it was it wouldn't have so strongly supported Ed.  When new recruit Matthew d'Anconservative writes saying he doesn't think a Corbyn win would be the disaster everyone thinks and would move the Tories back towards the centre, clearly there is mischief afoot.  For Corbyn to win the leadership and then the election in 2020 is A Very British Coup territory.

The odd thing is Labour knows full well the Burnham, Cooper, Kendall platform looks awful.  This hasn't led to the soul searching it should have done, Hunt's call for a "summer of hard truths" being about only what the serious and sensible people in the party declare to be "hard truths", but rather a simple increase in the factions insulting each other.  It doesn't matter that Burnham appears to suffer from the same problem as the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, that Cooper has even less personality than a wet sock and Kendall's strategy of telling anyone minded to vote for her they are idiots results only in the same back with bells on ("Fuck Kendall" is about the most effusive endorsement she has received thus far), the problem is everyone else, not them.

Like Atul Hatwal, I don't think Corbyn will win the leadership.  This won't however be a result of the serious and sensible people realising they've screwed up spectacularly and that they can't go on treating the party's membership like dirt, while regarding the electorate as always being right however contradictory their urges.  They've gone so far down that route now it would be far too jarring to do an about turn.  It will be because the idiots and morons at the grassroots will do the rethinking instead.  Sadly, this almost certainly means that the serious and sensible people will conclude they were right and everyone else was wrong.  Even worse, it means the party will be saddled with either Burnham or Cooper.  Plus ça change.

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