THERE is a dedicated voiceofthenorth.net reader and compulsive BBC Radio 5 Live listener who appears to loathe the words I write and speak and resents the very air I breathe. Either that or I have a stalker.
Trading (insults?) under the name ‘Peter Rohan’, he has pinned me to the wall more than once for what I am sure he sees as my namby-pamby ‘small L’ liberalism and my pathetic attempts to remain part of the EU.
Take his latest broadside, after I pointed out that the recent EU referendum was merely ‘advisory’ and, given its whisker-close result, should not be regarded as either binding or final:
“What a deluded, out of touch, far Left, lunatic, media establishment fascist [Banks] is if he thinks he can rob the Brexit voters of their legitimate vote to get out of the EU!”
Clearly put, you have to admit. Vigorous, yet neither crude nor particularly rude, you will agree. His next response, this time to following my appearance as a newspaper reviewer on Radio 5Live when I strayed on-air into dangerous European waters once more, slammed a torpedo into me amidships:
“I listened to David Banks on the Stephen Nolan Show and what a [repetitious adjectives deleted] he is! They say there is an idiot in every village, Mr Banks; get what I mean?”
“Phew! What a scorcher!”as I used to regularly headline hot weather stories in my long-gone days on the soaraway Sun. Still, as I am forced to concede in my bleeding-heart liberal way, I cannot read the bile and vituperation he directs at me without sometimes thinking that he might occasionally have a point.
After all, he and I make common cause when it comes to the conundrum that is the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Admirable in some ways as this Trojan of the Labour Left might be, I (and apparently Mr Rohan) cannot bring ourselves to trust a man who for years was a hot-headed maverick who defied party Whips and past Labour leaders with an enthusiasm he now appears to deny his current comrades.
And, crucially, neither I nor Rohan believe he can win a general election.
I was, therefore, relieved when this columnist’s brief but regular response from His Greatest Critic arrived with condemnation not of your columnist (for which great thanks) but of the aforementioned J.Corbyn Esq.
“There is this myth,” thundered Rohan, “that Corbyn and his middle class Trotsky and Marxist groupies (who are trying to relive their student days) represent the working classes in the UK and up north.
“Nope! I am working class and I have as much in common with Corbyn and his buddies as I do with the Tory toffs. Corbyn – like Cameron, Clegg and even Farage – comes from the same privileged stock who don’t have a clue what it is like to live in the shoes of the long-suffering working classes.
“Mr Banks, what the Labour Party needs is a true leader from a working class background, whom the working classes can relate to and who would trash Mrs May in the 2020 election.
“Who? you might ask.
“Simple. His name is Dan Jarvis.
Important that you realise those words and that judgment belong to Mr Rohan, not me. I reproduce them to encourage in my reader/critic the notion that positives (in this case his commendation of the Labour MP Dan Jarvis) are more useful and persuasive than negatives (his pistol-whipping of, first, me and then Jezza Corbyn).
And so, I thought, unlike the EU debate where facts were banished and information prevented from being made public (stay your hand a moment, Mr Rohan!), we here at voiceofthenorth.net should make our columns available to readers’ nominations for Labour leader.
It is not a one-party thing: anyone may take part. Conservatives and Liberal Democrats may wish to add their opinions of similar nominees, might even wish to discuss the merits of MPs in their own parties who might make better leadership material than the current incumbent.
Each nominated candidate will receive a fact box similar to the one afforded Dan Jarvis (above). So get to it, king-and-queenmakers.
In my own case, only one golden rule shall apply. As American Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman declared when he was being considered as a possible Republican candidate for the presidential election of 1884: “If nominated I will not run, if elected I will not serve.”
Unless, of course, Mr Rohan can persuade me otherwise. . .