Friday, September 11, 2015

The North by North Westminster Diary: Labour (And Several Thousand Entryists) Hold Their Breath

Monday 7th September
It’s a case of off the beach and into the fire for David Cameron as Parliament returns from the Summer Recess.
He has to face Parliament and provide a response to the Migrant Crisis which, as everyone in Westminster knows, started last Tuesday 1st September when newspaper photo editors returned from their holidays.
He announces, in line with a recent U-turn, that 20,000 extra Syrian refugees will be settled in Britain before May 2020, whilst talking of the need to use “both head and heart” in this matter. The Government’s heart was taken from the same organ suppliers that the Daily Mail used for its new ticker last week.

Tuesday 8th September
Of course, this week is mainly the hush before the storm that will be Saturday’s result in the Labour Leadership Contest. Those soothsayers in the bookies have Jeremy Corbyn as the odds-on favourite. To that end, last night’s Panorama, was almost exclusively devoted to Red Jez.
There was more dwelling on his worldview and choice of protest companions, leading to more clarion calls from supporters and opponents alike. Chiefly, however, there was a spurious examination of the secret of Corbyn’s apparent success.
The answer might actually lie in the closing part of the film, when he sings Bandiera Rossa and does a little bit of light, avuncular jigging. Now, he doesn’t set the floor alight, nor stir the heart with his soaring baritone, but he looks very… well, genuine.
Let me put it this way: Corbyn does dad-dancing better than Ed Miliband ate a sandwich or Cameron eats a pasty, and he didn’t ask the cameras to watch him do it.

Wednesday 9th September
Today sees the final PMQs before Labour gets a new leader, which means it is Harriet Harman’s last day as Professor McGonagall. This is overshadowed by the Queen, as she becomes the UK’s longest reigning monarch.
This leads to plenty of tributes to HMQ (Gawd bless you ma’am, and all that), which seems a little odd when what they are paying tribute to is her not dying. On this occasion, David Cameron, Harriet Harman and countless others have stood up and said “Well done to Her Majesty on not snuffing it for longer than her great-great grandma could manage”; or describing her as “record-breaking” which, whilst true, makes her sound like some sort of geriatric Usain Bolt.

Thursday 10th September
And the polls are closed. The next Labour leader has been chosen.
But by whom? A very pertinent question in what has been nothing short of a catastrophically mismanaged election. First, there was “entryism”. One mischievous Tory registered four times, once under the name of John Major. Then came attempts to weed out interlopers who “did not share Labour values”, which led to leading trade unionist Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the Public and Commerical Services Union, being denied a vote.
Yesterday, a helpline designed to assist people in casting their vote was shut 24-hours before the polls were and, last of all, it appears that thousands haven’t received their ballots.
All of this is the last echo of Ed Miliband’s glorious reign. He set the rules for this campaign, and in doing so set the scene for the most compelling farce since Noises Off. It’s hard to imagine even UKIP achieving these levels of incompetence, though to be fair that is partly because they would skip the leadership election and just ask Nigel back.

Friday 11th September
Meanwhile, in the working world, a fresh sexism row is brewing, bringing back memories of the row which engulfed Professor Tim Hunt. You know, the older man who made an inappropriate joke which, it later transpired, might have been taken wildly out of context, but a whole bunch of people on Twitter ruined his life anyway. Such larks.
Well, this time an older male lawyer has made an inappropriate comment to a young female lawyer on LinkedIn, describing her picture as “stunning”, which we can all agree is just irredeemably awful.
Yes, he shouldn’t have made that comment. It is just not professional, but it’s hardly an assault on another human being. It was misjudged, but now his life is being torn apart. This morning, a report in The Times is quoting a comment he made under his daughter’s Facebook photo where he described her as “hot”, which is a little odd but almost certainly harmless in the context. But no: the undeniable suggestion is that he is an incestuous paedophile.
You see, in the digital age, there’s no evidence if there’s no innuendo, and there’s no justice unless it’s Twitter-lynch-mob justice.

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