Margaret Beckett famously described herself as a “moron” in regards to her decision to nominate Jeremy Corbyn for the leadership of the Labour Party. Yet she also can’t bring herself to say anything truly bad about him either. She even once described him in an interview, post-2015 leadership election I hasten to add, as a saint.
This is a very common view of Corbyn – a lovely little man sucked into the centre of politics where he never really wanted to go, who is now drowning, incompetently pining for his allotment and some peace and quiet. I can see how from his demeanour this image has been formed. But if you look at his actions this is inherently false.
Take the latest example. Jeremy Corbyn has talked a great deal about how he wants to extend an “olive branch” to those members of the PLP who had voted no confidence in him. Behind the scenes, discussions started around the best way to make this happen and a compromise, a tenuous one but something at least, was found: reverse the Ed Miliband decision to put appointments in the leader’s hands and give them back to the PLP. That way the parliamentary party could feel like they had some control over their briefs. It was a simple yet powerful idea, and the fact that this is the way Labour had operated in opposition for decades previously gave it extra weight.
Then Corbyn turns around and tells the media that yes indeed, who fills the frontbenches from now on will be taken out of the leader’s hands – and given to the members. This was a clear message to rebel MPs: don’t even expect basic honesty from me in my dealings with you, this is war from now on, just in case you were still in doubt.
You can look at what has just happened and come to two possible conclusions: one, Corbyn is sub-normal in terms of basic human intelligence; or two, that he knows exactly what he is doing and is carrying this out mercilessly. I’m not in the middle of it, but from just outside of the whole thing it sure looks a lot like the latter. I know Corbyn isn’t a world class intellect, but nor is he some sort of modern version of Dostoyevsky’s Idiot, wandering around clueless as to how social interactions are held and what they signify. I refuse to believe he does not know exactly what he’s doing when he screws over his MPs like that.
And in one sense, fine – politics is brutal and you can argue about the stupidity of the rules, but Corbyn is there under them, fair and square. But could he just please stop going around saying how he’s all about a kinder, gentler politics? Brutally reshaping a political party in your own image while taking no prisoners is not fluffy stuff – it’s about as hardcore as it gets. And please, please, please, can people stop calling him a saint once and for all?
- The original article read “Margaret Hodge” for Margaret Beckett. This is due to hangover induced brain freeze in the author rather than a genuine confusion between two esteemed politicians who both coincidentally happen to share the same first name.