Week 12: Prat – Jeremy Corbyn

by Jackie_South on March 21, 2016

Labour_PratThis week, the Labour Party leader wins our dubious award for being the most significant prat of the last seven days

Before being too unkind, I want to say that I want Jeremy Corbyn to succeed. I think I am the only one of the regular contributors to this blog to have been to my local Momentum meeting, but much of what John McDonnell has been saying as shadow chancellor is similar to what we have been urging the Labour Party to say over the last five years.

The problem is less policy than strategy and presentation and, sorry, those things matter. My colleague, George East, has put it more bluntly in the past but Corbyn’s problem is his focus and his priorities as leader in taking on the Tories. What was the priority of the Parliamentary Labour Party at the start of the year as the Commons debated the horrific Housing and Planning Bill? The minutiae of a week-long reshuffle where only one shadow cabinet member was sacked. What is apparently the priority of Corbyn’s kitchen cabinet in the face of government meltdown over benefits? Rumours are, another shadow cabinet reshuffle three months after the last.

Given the choice between taking on the Tories or taking on his own party, too often the choice seems to be the latter. Maybe it feels easier: too often, the attacks they have made on the Tories have gained little traction, or indeed backfired.

Which brings us to the reason for this week’s nomination. It is not a disaster, it is unlikely to cost Labour votes. But it does illustrate the party leadership’s inability to make the weather or land a blow on the Tories, even when they are on the back foot.

On Wednesday, Jeremy Corbyn had to deliver the Opposition response to Osborne’s budget. The big story, you remember, was meant to be the Sugar Tax for soft drinks (a week really is a long time in politics). Chris Bryant cheekily suggested to Corbyn that he use this take the mick out of Gideon’s reputed past liking for a different sort of white powder: “I’m delighted that finally the chancellor has realised the dangers of coke”.

The problem of course is that Corbyn has a minimal sense of humour. Did he not get it? Did he think it was wrong to allude to unsubstantiated rumours of personal behaviour? Did he decide it was wrong to use a brand name rather than a generic one? Was his change to the line deliberate or a subconscious processing of the above?

Whatever the reason, the words that left Corbyn’s lips on the floor of the House was “I’m delighted that finally the chancellor has realised the dangers of cola.”

Oh dear, Jeremy. How on earth could you fluff a line like that?

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