IF this is a snap election, where is the crackle and pop?
The best reaction to the news that Theresa from Maidenhead had called a surprise election came courtesy of Brenda from Bristol: interviewed by the Man from the BBC, the film clip of her response – “You’re joking! Not another one? Oh, for God’s sake!” – has gone viral, partly because of her incredulous Bristol twang but mainly because her exasperation speaks for so many.
Brenda, 75, is said to be enjoying her accidental moment in the spotlight, even though she understands neither social media nor the ways in which her words have bounced around the world wide web.
Elections, even unnecessary ones, have their slogans and memes, so perhaps this election should belong to Brenda. Maybe we could even vote for Brenda; after all, the alternatives are not that enticing.
It is even possible that Brenda could turn people against the U-turning Mrs May. An election in 2015 followed quickly by the EU referendum last year and now another election this year? We are plainly in danger of being all politicked out by a pliable prime minister who pretends she doesn’t play political games.
But an election we shall have, even if we don’t need one, so I suppose we should look at the politics. . .
Jeremy from Islington hit the headlines after his opening speech of the election campaign. The Labour leader gave a good enough account of himself, looking less of an electoral liability than usual.
The trouble is, his attacks on the establishment and what he calls the ‘cosy cartel of politics’ still seem aimed more at his loyal supporters than towards a wider audience of voters. He certainly spoke well and many of his beliefs are such that anyone who leans to the Left ought to embrace. But if he doesn’t convince ALL lefties, how in a short election campaign will he attract floating voters?
To those of us old enough to be able to make the comparison, Corbyn bears similarities to Michael Foot, the Labour leader whose manifesto for the 1983 election was described by the late Gerald Kaufman as “the longest suicide note in history”, a view which turned out to be spot on.
From that same era the Labour MP John Golding – the sort of centrist who would be booed by Jeremy’s modern-day disciples – despaired of Foot’s chances as Labour were doing so badly in the polls and told his leader so.
Foot is said to have countered: “You’re wrong – there were a thousand people at my meeting last night and they all cheered.”
To which Golding replied: “There were 100,000 outside who think you’re crackers!”
The danger for Labour is that Corbyn is replicating that pattern, and that like Foot – a good and decent man who had no hope of winning – he will continue to woo his fans and followers, while turning off the uncommitted.
His constant attacks on the establishment and the media can all too easily sound like he’s getting in his excuses first; as if laying the ground for defeat by deriding a system he says is stacked against him.
And, yes, there is the ‘Citizen Smith’ difficulty, too. Even if some of what Corbyn says is true, and even if he hits the mark occasionally, he can sound like a caricature leftie (and that observation from my secret years as a caricature leftie who never actually joined any political party).
To a leftie who has always worked in the business, Corbyn’s constant moaning about the media grates. He does have a point but it’s always been that way. Instead of regarding newspapers and the BBC as his enemy he should learn to play the game a little better.
Anyway, that’s enough politics for now. I’m off to run that clip of Brenda from Bristol again.
I like the lady’s style.