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Boris, chaos and Corbyn: we need Cher

Apocalypse watchers are advised to get their bets in now. End-time odds have shortened considerably since Boris Johnson’s appointment as Foreign Secretary, and the full onslaught of Donald Trump’s soon-to-be-nuclear-powered presidential campaign will not so much shorten them further as slice them in half and pass them through a wood chipper.

In such times of international WTF-ery, we turn – where else? – to Cher.  Doesn’t it speak volumes about the state of so many nations that madam seems to have a better handle on events than any government?

On Boris Johnson, she opines “Think He’s F-ing Idiot who lied to British ppl & Didnt have the [ball emojis times three] 2 LEAD THEM ONCE ‘LEAVE’ VOTE WON”. Please consider all of that to be very much [sic]. Most recently, and in a similarly punctuated polemic, she declares that the White House would have to be fumigated were Donald Trump ever to set foot inside it. This is a remarkable amount of sense from someone who abbreviates the word “be” to a bee emoji. (In fact, that is a act of genius. Please expect all future columns to be constructed entirely from small cartoon pictures of food.)

But through all this nonsense and hullubaloo cuts the principled and commanding figure of Jeremy Cor… Oh, wait. Scratch that. The backbench rebel who defied the Labour whip more times than any other during the Blair and Brown premierships – and who has since been outdone only by his Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell – is bleating on about loyalty from MPs who, given the current state of things, presumably do not trust him to tie his own shoe laces.

Corbyn’s statements on leadership challenges under New Labour, not least that there should be an annual election, make for illuminating reading. Of course, now that the messiah’s time has come, his opponents should just suck it up, his performance as leader be damned. Corbyn has a mandate, and it is invoked so often that one would be forgiven for wondering whether previous party leaders had won power – I use the term broadly – via some kind of black magic. Tony Blair, of course, had a mandate to govern from a landslide general election victory, but that never seemed to count for much.

For my part, I was willing to go along with Corbyn until it became clear he and his office had undermined the Remain campaign in advance of the EU referendum, watering down speeches and failing to make Labour’s position clear. I don’t blame him for not persuading every single Labour voter to back Remain, but when so many are unaware of the party’s position, something has gone drastically wrong. This this would be a good time to recall that support for Remain was a democratically decided Labour party policy; we all know how much the dear leader loves democracy.

The real shame, however, is the way that the Labour party has been dragged in to the chasm of post-factual politics that has sprung up in Britain in recent months. Emotion, more than anything, has become the great divider, and ideological purity is fetishised as never before. You are either for us or against us – and if you’re against us then you’re basically the re-incarnation of Blair, the Great Satan of Sure Start centres and a well-funded NHS. Blair was by no means perfect, however trite a remark that has become, but I am inherently suspicious of any political movement that dispenses with nuance.

Equally trite is the observation that Corbyn is not personally responsible for all of the worsening chaos, but he must acknowledge that it is his ascendency that has brought so much of this to the fore. There are always at least two sides to an argument, but while not all Labour MPs will have been thrilled about his leadership victory, I don’t buy the assertion that his every opponent is a conniving, vainglorious traitor. Indeed, if dissenting MPs can become traitors to their party in just ten months, what does that make one of their number who spent over 30 years doing the very same?

Clearly the only course of action is to put Cher in charge of Labour. There would be no better way of getting one over on Theresa May in the Commons than addressing her in emojis and big red exclamation marks. Party management would be a walk in the park for the woman who, on her first solo tour, wore no costume for more than eight minutes. And wouldn’t she be so much more fun that Corbyn?


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Peter Sheehan Still faffing around after three years at Concrete, Peter is back for a second year as deputy editor. Presumably that means that last year wasn’t a complete disaster, but you never can tell… Peter has pledged to spend this year delegating as much work as possible to his colleagues, thus leaving him free to further his long-standing efforts to become Concrete’s one-man answer to Peter Mandelson and Malcolm Tucker.