In spite of the best efforts of the mainstream media to ignore or spin it, this writer can’t be the only one to have noticed that Jeremy Corbyn is playing a blinder recently.
It’s drawing attention at PMQs (Prime Minister’s Questions – there’s a reason they don’t call it Prime Minister’s Answers) in particular, with even Tories commenting on Corbyn’s superiority over the Theresa May, who looks ever more shifty and is increasingly quick to resort to snarkiness, often with her voice breaking as she tries vainly to sound strong.
But it goes far further. Philip Hammond’s attempt to present a u-turn on ‘borrowing to spend’ as if it was a sudden Tory good idea in changed Brexit circumstances, rather than a complete vindication of Labour’s clear anti-austerity position under Corbyn, was an abject failure. Paul Mason put it most pithily:
I covered every Autumn Statement since 2001 and as @PHammondMP sits down here's the bit he should have said but didn't… pic.twitter.com/nPZR8BTJMb
— Paul Mason (@paulmasonnews) November 23, 2016
Of course, it should say ‘fellow fuckwits’, but I guess space was short.
Hammond is just one those looking increasingly desperate. May continues to try to cover the chaos in her government by claiming, essentially, “we’re playing our negotiating cards close to our chest. (If we had any cards)”
She also said two very stupid things yesterday in PMQs, first trying to claim credit for the Tories’ introduction of the ‘triple lock’ on pensioner benefits when he (official and unofficial) spokespeople had spent the morning on various media preparing the ground for the lock to be unlocked, and continued to do so through the afternoon.
Secondly, she repeated her ‘£10 billion for the NHS’ lie even after a leading Tory on the Health Committee has made clear that it’s only £4.5bn and probably less’. Sarah Wollaston, the MP in question, was clearly seen on coverage of PMQs, nodding in agreement with Jeremy when he went as close as anyone ever goes to accusing Mrs May of lying to the House and saying ‘Yes, it’s true, it’s true, £4.5 billion’.
These are the kind of mistakes that will bite you in the arse eventually and they show a Prime Minister scrabbling at the cliff edge for any blade of grass to cling to.
The Tory chaos goes further and deeper, especially around their inescapable desire to pander to racists, as shown by recent u-turns on, for example, making businesses register their foreign workers or forcing schools to take a census of the birthplaces of their children. They keep getting forced back by Labour’s – and especially Corbyn’s – strong and well-considered statements, but can’t help themselves lurching into the next dog-whistle trap.
Believe it or not, flounder-tramping is a sport – it involves trapping a two-dimensional flounder under your foot and spearing it. Corbyn appears to be a leader in that, as well.
It’s not just Tories who are being exposed and pushed to desperate lengths. The right-wing faction of the PLP (Parliamentary Labour Party) has kept a relatively low profile for the last month or so – with immediate benefits for Labour’s polling.
Until this week, that is, when deputy leader Tom Watson announced an ‘inquiry’ into ‘fake news’ – an opportunistic and deeply cynical attempt to exploit disquiet over pro-Trump nonsense in the US to attack genuinely independent news sources such as the Canary, which was named specifically as the move was launched, as if their fact-based but inconvenient journalism has any resemblance to the fabricated neo-nazi drivel that is feared to have helped Trump win the presidential election.
Watson’s motives in choosing an avowed opponent of Corbyn are clear. Just as clear is the bankruptcy of thought and purpose that it represents. He and his co-reactionaries are flailing desperately at just about everything in the hope of scoring a hit on something, anything.
But, in fairness, when you’re trying to oppose someone with clear purpose, thinking and moral sense and you have none, options are limited.
Meanwhile, Corbyn is getting on with the serious business of actually providing leadership, in a way that puts his opponents on the opposite benches and within the Labour party to shame.
On Brexit, the economy, the NHS, treatment of immigrants and a host of other issues, he is putting out clear, unambiguous and intelligent statements with the intelligence, gravitas and, frankly, statesmanship that his opponents can’t even mimic, let alone accomplish.
Here are just a few examples – you won’t have to look hard online to find more, but the same can’t be said for the mainstream broadcast and print media. They stand in stark contrast to the obfuscations, evasions and, frankly, arse-licking that we see from other so-called leaders.
It’s clear that the efforts of the media, the Tories Corbyn’s opponents in the Labour party to undermine and break him have done little but hone his statesmanship into the fine point that allows the weight of his ideas and integrity to strike home.
If you want posturing, vacuous weathervanes, you’ll be fine with May, Hammond, Trump, Farage and their ilk. But if you want real leadership, the type that actually leads, the signpost that shows the way to a better place for us all, there’s only one option and it’s getting clearer daily.