Poor Angela Eagle. Jeremy Corbyn was the least likely leader of Labour, didn't for a moment expect he was going to win, but at least he's always believed in what he was doing. Watching the tragic Eagle dumped in front of the media, trying desperately to persuade herself she agrees with what she's saying, let alone the few journos who hadn't decamped to see Andrea Leadsom flounce off is another of those "like watching a lion rape a sheep, but in a bad way" moments. Eagle at the best of times looks as though she's on the verge of bursting into tears; so do I, come to think of it, but then I'm not challenging to become the leader of the opposition.
If it weren't for the unreality of the last 18 days, this would surely have been the most patently lysergic interlude of the year thus far. Eagle looks for all the world as though she's about to launch into selling us a timeshare not in a holiday property, but in Avon products. Buy shares in Real Leadership by Angela. Except that doesn't say Angela, surely? It looks more like Arscle. Why does the capital A join with what is meant to be an n? Why is it pink? Why? Just why? They had two weeks to come up with something, and this is it?
We ought to give Eagle the benefit of the doubt. She clearly doesn't believe for a moment in what she's doing, but she is doing it for what she thinks are the best of reasons. The real opprobrium needs to be heaped on whoever it is pulling the strings and doing such a lousy job of it. Are they really all such fucking cowards that none of them are prepared to stand up themselves? The reasoning presumably is that Eagle is one of the few figures in the party vaguely on the left who might be able to bring some Corbyn-backers away, more so than say a Yvette Cooper, despite Cooper being a far more obvious leader than Eagle. Or is the plan still to try and deny Corbyn from even being on the ballot, with Eagle the unlikely assassin who then gives way to the real candidates?
No one knows, not even it would seem the plotters. You would assume they have applied the Kinnock test, not least as the parliamentary Labour party was apparently en masse moved to tears by the beauty of his peroration last week. Ed Miliband (some might recall that Neil Kinnock's reaction on Miliband's election as leader was to declare "we've got our party back") failed to pass the supermarket test according to Neil, as voters told him they wanted to vote Labour, but couldn't for Ed personally. Corbyn fares even more poorly, with a fitter on the docks in Cardiff calling him "weird". How on earth do they imagine Eagle is going to fare? She doesn't even look confident in herself for crying out loud. What happens if Corbyn is still on the ballot? Assume that Corbyn is still on it and against all the odds Eagle wins. Unless Labour hasn't noticed, the near entirety of the right-wing press has very quickly declared Theresa May to be the reincarnation of Thatcher, Churchill and Boudica combined, the kind of warrior for truth, justice and the British way we've all been yearning for during these barren years of Cameronite hegemony. Any affection they might have for Eagle dispensing with Jezza will disappear in an instant, and we'll be back to the headlines, only altered slightly, that every Labour leader gets (COMMUNIST EAGLE WANTS TO NATIONALISE PREMIER LEAGUE/NON-BALD EAGLE FAILS TO TAKE FLIGHT/EAGLE DEMANDS RIGHTS FOR VEGETABLES etc).
For May it is. All memories of the last two instances when parties appointed leaders unopposed have it seems been banished, as in neither case were Michael Howard or Gordon Brown the greatest of successes. Others might also recall the Tories demanded an election when Brown was in effect given a coronation, and then had much fun with their "Bottler Brown" jibe. May we're told is not considering an election, despite how she has stated repeatedly that "Brexit is Brexit". Hadn't it ought to be put to the voters if that is still their feeling considering the turmoil of the past 18 days, the changing of leaders, the resignations, the plotting, the everything? Shouldn't voters be asked to give their approval to what the exit plan turns out to be at the very least, especially when May said today that bringing freedom of movement to an end was more important than staying in the single market? While some might well have taken the question on the ballot to be "Do you think the UK should be economically crippled because you're a racist cunt? Yes/No", I'm fairly certain it wasn't.
Impossible as it is to feel even slightly for Leadsom, as she knew full what she was doing with the comments on Theresa May's lack of children, you can't also help but wonder how the May media consensus developed so quickly. The Times described Leadsom as lacking "judgment, knowledge and decency". Really? Compared to whom, and what? The Theresa May who informed the world a man escaped deportation because he had a cat? The Theresa May who the Telegraph, yes, the Telegraph lambasted for her absurdly right-wing conference speech last year on immigration and asylum? The Theresa May who had ultimate responsibility for the chronic problems at the Yarl's Wood detention centre? If the media are having second thoughts about leaving the EU, then unless they know something we don't there doesn't seem to be any room for manoeuvre. Can it really be be purely down to May being the best of a very bad lot when they've had no problem plumping for monomaniacs and fanatics in the past?
If she meant at least some of what she said in her speech this morning, a massive if considering it was as much as meant to be a pitch to Tory members as it was the country, you could conclude May might be something of an improvement on Cameron. Only all those suggestions of reforms are undermined by her insistence on leaving the EU, and doing so potentially in the stupidest, most damaging way possible. Again, this might have been a sop to those who voted Leave. If not however, it only underlines how disenfranchised those of us who don't think a Leave vote based on a campaign of lies and xenophobia, lead by politicians who have since defenestrated themselves should be taken as final. With Corbyn also making clear that Labour under him would campaign for leaving the EU, albeit with the best possible deal for the country, it leaves us where? With the Lib Dems, who contributed heavily to us being in this mess? Hoping some Labour figure emerges who isn't a stooge, that can unite the party and bring the country along with them?
On second thoughts, I think I'll just say fuck it and move to a country with sensible politics. I hear Swaziland's nice this time of year.
Labels: Andrea Leadsom, Angela Eagle, EU referendum, Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leadership, media analysis, stupidity, Theresa May, Tories