There ought to be a tiny crumb of comfort in being right. It would be nice, at this point, to watch the politicians on telly, pour a giant glass of something delicious, plop down on the sofa, give a gentle sigh and think: well, at least I was right. But if there are tiny crumbs to be found, I’m afraid I haven’t found them. Our Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has just passed his second reading for the EU withdrawal bill by a majority of 124. He got his landslide. He’s heading for his rock-hard Brexit. I’ve been predicting all of this for quite a while, but I take absolutely no comfort in any of it. The battle for Brexit was lost just over a week ago and now all we can do is inspect the suppurating wounds.
It’s too late for the blame game. Yes, of course Jeremy Corbyn was a disaster. As soon as I heard he’d won the Labour leadership contest after Ed Miliband resigned in 2015, I knew he’d never win an election. To be honest, as soon as I heard Ed Miliband had won the leadership contest in 2010, I knew Labour would be out of power for quite a while. I was having afternoon tea with my mother in a posh hotel in London, an early birthday treat for us both. I listened to the results on my iPod and remember how, by a margin of 1.4%, one brother pipped another to the post. And I thought: well, that’s it, then, which is what my father always used to say at the start of a weekend when the weather-man said it was going to rain.
And the party suddenly started talking about the only leader who had ever won it three elections as if he was some kind of Genghis Khan who had been ripping the bread from hungry children’s mouths. In fact, he did quite the opposite: cutting child poverty, starting Sure Start, establishing the national minimum wage, creating the human rights act and tripling spending on the NHS. He did these things because he did something Labour leaders don’t often do. He got into government. He fought elections and got whacking great majorities. He sought and acquired something called power.
Ed Miliband didn’t have the hunger for it. Or, if he did, he hid it very well. And Jeremy Corbyn? Oh, Jeremy Corbyn. The serial protester who was nominated as a joke. The jam-making, allotment-tending, rabble-rousing, terrorist-espousing, pro-IRA Marxist, who hated his country and hadn’t changed his political views in 50 years. Oh sure, that’ll get Labour back into power. That’ll teach those Bullingdon toffs.
Well, we all know how that worked out. Creating a cult, it turns out, isn’t the same as winning an election. Or even an argument. But the trouble with cults is that they’ll never admit they’re wrong. Trust me, I’ve been in something like a cult. I know how they work. When the world doesn’t listen, the response is always the same: just cling to the one true faith.
And so, after the biggest electoral loss for Labour since 1935, Jeremy Corbyn refused to say he was wrong. He blamed Brexit. He blamed the voters. He said he “won the argument”. As if people went round thinking: you know what, he’s right, but I’m going to vote for the guy who says the complete opposite. Unlike David Cameron, and Theresa May, and Gordon Brown, and pretty much every leader who has ever lost an election, he didn’t contact MPs who lost their seats. He is, he says, going to stay on as leader until a new leader can be found. Oh, and the people who advised him are keeping their jobs. That’s Seumas Milne, the public school Stalinist on a salary of £104,00. That’s Karie Murphy, “close friend” of Len McCluskey and Corbyn’s election campaign leader, who said she didn’t “know much about polling”, on a salary of £92,000. Meanwhile, mere Labour party workers have all been told that they can expect to lose their jobs.
And now we have Boris, the man whose name isn’t actually Boris, who has pretty much fulfilled his childhood ambition of being “king of the world”. Does he care about the “red wall” working-class Northern voters who got him his victory? Does he, hell? He doesn’t care about a child with pneumonia in a hospital corridor, or a female MP who’s getting death threats. What he cares about is power. If Northern, male, working-class voters are the path to the 10 years plus he wants, then sure, he’ll throw whatever cash at them he can. He’ll do whatever it takes. He’ll abolish the BBC and Foxify the United Kingdom, or whatever’s left of it once Ireland has been reunited and Scotland has voted for independence. He’ll castrate, or at least politicise, the courts. Whatever it takes. Whatever it takes. Whatever it takes.
We will leave the EU on 31 January. After that, our Prime Minister will pretend Brexit is “done”. He’s going to ban the word Brexit from government documents. He’s removing Parliament from any decisions about trade deals. He’s removed the clause about workers’ rights. He’s imposed a deadline, enshrined in law, that means the only Brexit we can get will be as hard as nails. Jobs will be lost. A lot of jobs will be lost. But Boris Johnson will be our Prime Minister, for at least a decade. That’s the main thing. And he has no opposition because the Labour party has been destroyed.
And people say that Jeremy Corbyn, who presumably can read a poll as well as anyone else, is a “decent man”.
Perhaps we all do get the politicians we deserve. I don’t know. But happy Christmas anyway and pour yourself a nice big glass. I think we’ll all need one.