For those of you who have been avoiding the news, living in a box, or are reading this in the future, Jeremy Corbyn has caused a social media storm this week with what has been dubbed “Traingate”. Corbyn and his team got on a Virgin train and filmed the Labour leader sat in a corridor, complaining about the lack of seats. Virgin subsequently released CCTV footage of Corbyn on the very same train journey getting up and sitting down in a now miraculously free seat.
All this has caused some to speculate that this shows Corbyn can be fickle with the truth. I would respond by saying we knew that already. As a for instance, Corbyn telling Owen Smith that he was lying when claiming Corbyn suggested triggering Article 50 the day after the EU referendum when in fact Corbyn had said just that – on television for everyone to note for posterity.
Others have speculated that this controversy may cost Corbyn victory in the leadership contest. This is wishful thinking in the extreme. Forget about being caught on camera in a significant bending of the truth – if Corbyn took out an Uzi and began mowing down supporters at a rally, his supporters would find some way to blame the MSM, the PLP or both (“That was a a Corbyn imposter with the gun – members of Rupert Murdoch’s inner circle flanked by Wes Streeting had Jeremy abducted and imprisoned in a bunker in Trenton, New Jersey to facilitate the atrocity”).
No, what #traingate really tells us about Corbyn is just how out of touch with potential Labour voters he is and how deep his fantasist political world runs. So let’s imagine the Virgin train he’d been on had been overcrowded (what I’m sure they were hoping desperately for when they got on) – who cares? I’ve been on plenty of train journeys run by private companies that were deeply awful. I think I’m where most people in the country are on renationalising the railways – great, do it, if it can be done cheaply and effectively. But even people who are on the coal face of this problem, having to take some crappy train every day seatless while their season ticket rises mercilessly every year, won’t vote on this basis because most people think renationalisation probably won’t improve the service all that much anyhow. Call it British cynicism, if you will.
What I’m saying is that in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, when the way the country trades with the rest of the world is up for grabs; while the deficit crawls up again and a new recession looks more and more likely; is moaning about mostly middle class people on cross country trains not getting a seat really the very, very top priority right this second for Her Majesty’s Official Opposition?
This is what really makes Corbyn so unelectable – he’s obsessed with niche issues that are a huge deal to several thousand people but that everyone else would put way down the to do list. If he wants to understand where that leads to eventually, he should have a look at what happened to the Lib Dems.