Matthew Norman wrote:In a new book, Dangerous Hero, outlining the myriad ways in which Jeremy is unfit for office – cleverly flagged up by The Mail on Sunday’s screamer “UNFIT FOR OFFICE” – the charge list is so long that I can’t decide where to start.
So here, randomly selected by dice throw, are five of the more sensational accusations targeted at him by Tom Bower, whose biography is serialised over a scant 13 or so pages of the popular tabloid. In tribute to Eric Morley announcing the Miss World results, these are listed in reverse order of severity.
5. When a former wife cooked a vegetarian Christmas dinner for Jezza and his eccentric brother Piers, “they stuffed it down their gullets, and never said thanks”.
4. On the day the family moved out of a house, he forgot to clear out the fridge in accord with his wife’s instructions.
3. At his grammar school in Shropshire, he was regarded not only as a terrible student, but also as “unsporty” and “gauche” (gaucheness being absolutely the last quality associated with adolescent boys).
2. Throughout one failed marriage, he showed “a lack of interest in material things”.
1. The principal cause of the £30,000 debt he accrued in the 1980s was his personal funding of salaries and rent for a community centre in Holloway.
In truth, much of Bower’s work will ring distant bells. Some of us already sensed, for instance, that Corbyn wasn’t heartbroken by the Brexit referendum result, despite having half-heartedly (at most) campaigned for the opposite.
Nor will it be qualify as a Richter 7.9 political earthquake that he had a relationship, between marriages, with Diane Abbott. That said, the earth apparently did move for them during the “passionate romp in a Cotswold field” Abbott described as “her finest half hour”.
So, there’s one form of physical exercise in a field at which, unlike rugby and cricket, he has excelled.
If Bower’s allegations ended with Corbyn’s indifference to white electricals, his domestic amnesia, terrible A-levels, proneness to debt, and appetite for consensual sex, precedent might tempt you to give him a pass.
Winston Churchill, after all, was massively in debt for most of his life, albeit more thanks to his lavish lifestyle than any compulsion to help the urban deprived. Churchill was no more attentive a husband, and had a dismal scholastic record at Harrow.
Meanwhile, one of very few personal details known about Theresa May is that she is content to dine on baked beans when her Arthur Askey husband moonlights as the galloping gourmet.
John McDonnell says Labour will back fresh Brexit referendum unless May agrees to Corbyn’s plan
Would the The Mail on Sunday have a fit of the vapours about any of that? Would it use Boris Johnson’s sexual adventures (not necessarily out of wedlock) to question his fitness, or cite Jacob Rees-Mogg’s proud nappy phobia as a disqualifying domestic inadequacy?
So what is it about Corbyn, the wannabe wealth redistributor with the dream of a less glaringly unequal economic model, that first repelled the likes of the MoS?
Whatever the answer to that, Bower’s book appears to contain a fatal paradox: on the one hand, as hinted by the subtitle Corbyn’s Ruthless Plot for Power, Jez has plotted ruthlessly for power; on the other, the author reports that Corbyn was on the brink of retiring to Wiltshire to keep bees, in the style of Sherlock Holmes, when he reluctantly agreed to be the ritual joke leadership candidate of the left.
It’s all a bit confusing. Has Corbyn schemed with fiendish cunning to bring an aftertaste of Marxist-Leninist dogma to Her Majesty’s realm? Or is he the financially chaotic dunce who “lacks the mental agility to chair all but the most basic political meetings”?
There are sound reasons to doubt Corbyn’s suitability for this historical moment. One can criticise his absenteeism from the fight to limit or avoid the horrors of Brexit (and I have), and the refusal to stamp down on anti-semitism that allowed a distasteful minor problem to mushroom into a serious threat to his credibility.
But when the reactionary right focuses on his hands-off approach to the Hoover, habit of hoarding papers in the garage and disinterest in the culture of medieval European towns, the question is this: how could anyone be so saintly that, after almost half a century of politics, this is the worst as effective an investigative journalist as Bower could excavate?
On a trip to Prague, reports his biographer, Corbyn did not comment “on the dilapidation of the city’s old buildings, all neglected by communist overlords... By contrast, he expressed a deep interest in Britain’s manhole covers, especially their dates of manufacture.” The smelling salts, matron, and with not a moment’s delay if you please.
Things no one has claimed about Corbyn are that his choice of Mastermind specialist subject would be electrifying, or that he’s the very model of a modern metrosexual husband, or he hasn’t called some dodgy people “friends”, or he was a brilliant prop-forward in schoolboy rugby, or he was averse to an al fresco coupling with Abbott.
What many people, possibly enough to put him in No 10, do claim is that he understands that the economic system is failing tens of millions, and that fixing it requires the diversion of a certain amount of wealth from those with a great deal to those with none at all.
That is a very simple and powerful message, and it took him within a few thousand votes of Downing Street in 2016.
Whether that success was in spite of the hysterical ad hominem attacks, or in part because of them, is debatable.
But when a man’s inability to discern a Tesco own brand baked bean from a Heinz is adduced as evidence of his unfitness for office, you can’t help wondering if the law of unintended consequences has a sucker punch in store.
Dear Matthew, while most of us understand that you had to say this or otherwise you risked your article not getting published at all:
and the refusal to stamp down on anti-semitism that allowed a distasteful minor problem to mushroom into a serious threat to his credibility.
I believe you must already be aware that the minor problem would develop into a mushroom regardless of what Corbyn did or did not do.
Lately, the issue of Corbyn's "antisemitism" has resurfaced once again because Luciana Berger the Jewish MP that has called her own party leader "unfit for office" and who has openly said that she does not want him(and her party) to be elected and who has also openly said that she wants to create another party, has been challenged by the Labour members of her own constituency who last week called for her removal from the party as per the party's regulations about her actively working against the party. Tom Watson(Labour's no 2 after Corbyn) instead of allowing Labour Party Members to debate and then vote on whether to remove Luciana, he prevented them from holding the vote and opted to investigate them for anti-semitism instead. Apparently these guys were being antisemitic wanting an openly anti-Labour MP removed from Labour at the same time that Theresa May and the Tories are being openly institutionally racist with their Hostile Environment Policy that has resulted in the Windrush scandal.
...take your common sense with you, and leave your prejudices behind...