Jeremy Corbyn stood outside of King’s Cross station yesterday to protest about rail fares. Let’s stop right there for a second: the leader of the opposition, one of the most powerful men in the country, a member of the Privy Council who can appear on television pretty much any time he likes and reach millions instantly, decided a good use of his time was to stand outside a London rail station with a handful of protestors.
I don’t mention this as another stick to beat Jeremy with, but rather because it provides such an insight into his mind. Corbyn was in front of King’s Cross yesterday because protesting is what he knows and loves. It’s what he feels comfortable with. And that’s fine. But the country needs a leader of the opposition who is happy to go on the BBC and convince the nation of what he believes to be true, not a protestor.
Having said that, yesterday beautifully summarises why I feel sorry for Jeremy: he genuinely never asked for this. He only entered the leadership contest because it was “his turn”, remember? Being the leader of a major political party is stressful enough for those who are burning with desire to do the job, for those who have dreamt about being the leader all their lives. Imagine how horrible it must be for someone who didn’t want it? I can empathise: I wouldn’t want to be the leader of the opposition myself.
But the problem is, Jeremy is the leader of the opposition and there’s nowhere to hide from that, even in front of King’s Cross station holding a placard. The press figured out he was there and then started asking him about the latest ISIS propaganda video involving a man with a British accent murdering five men (I think that’s what happened – I never watch these things). “I’m talking about railways this morning,” Jeremy sort of sweetly put forth, as if that would send the press on their way. Obviously they kept pressing the point, with Jeremy saying he would come onto it eventually. Finally, when he was pressed one too many times, he said “I’ll do it in a moment” and then walked away from his own protest.
It never gets any easier either. Today, the reshuffle of the shadow cabinet will be announced. The rumours make it look incredibly underwhelming already – Burnham and Benn swap jobs? So, Hilary Benn angers Corbyn by going his own way on foreign policy – and his punishment for this is to get a promotion to shadow Home Secretary? Perhaps Angela Eagle should slash the tyres on his bicycle if she wants to be shadow chancellor….
I’m sorry, it’s just so hard not to quip. He’s so out of his depth, the poor man. I really do feel sorry for him. The worst thing is, he can’t step down or he’ll be hunted to death by some combination of Momentum folk feeling betrayed, John McDonnell and/or the Socialist Workers Party.