One of the most amusing experiences of my weekend was reading through the Labour Live # tag on Twitter. It produced some truly exceptional witticisms and a good half of those in attendance seem to have been journalists of the conservative/right-leaning persuasion hell-bent on mixing beer and socialising with acerbic sarcastic mockery of everyone else who was present.
All good fun. However, it was a bittersweet reminder of why politicians trying to be cool is one of those things in life that is so cringeworthy that it is painful. It is a bit like walking in on people who you know intimately as friends stark naked rolling around in bed – truly a 10 on the cringeometre. Incidentally, as an ironic aside, it was also something that gives Jeremy Corbyn something in common with his arch-nemesis Tony Blair whose attempts to court Coldplay ended in painful rejection and who changed the football team he supported more often than the wind changed direction.
Presumably, Mr Corbyn is trying to capitalise on an ageing hipster/man-of-the-people image that played out relatively well in the last election. How could it not really when faced with the stony-hearted and equally stony-faced Maybot? However, if he was paying attention to the polls, he would notice a certain trend – namely, the harder he tries to cultivate this image the worse his poll ratings get and the worse Labour performs. This is because, thankfully, the electorate is far from stupid and they can usually spot a fake and a phoney once they overreach. The harder a politician tries to look ‘connected’ the more disconnected they actually become and, more damagingly, visibly appear to become.
Rather stupidly, Emily Thornberry once compared Mr Corbyn to Donald Trump. Mr Trump however never pretended to be anything personally like the working class Americans he won over in droves in rustbelt states. His rallies were clearly political rallies – not a shoddy attempt to ape a musical festival and bolt-on some politics in the vain hope nobody will notice or else be too whammed to actually notice [though at the prices charged at Labour Live for alcohol the latter prospect was always totally fantastical]. What he offered was answers to their questions which sparked their hopes and dreams and addressed their worries and concerns in a sensible, patriotic, manner. It really was that simple folks.
So, Mr Corbyn is nothing like Mr Trump. The longer he hangs around the more his brand is becoming irredeemably tarnished and it is looking more and more likely that his backing band, Momentum, for all its bluster, is stalling. At the most recent set of elections, the local elections in May, this supposedly fearsome beast failed to win a single seat it targeted. This alone stands as an eloquent testimony to how electorally ineffective mindless activism can be. Meanwhile, Labour Live stands as an eloquent testimony to how witless politicians are to think that cheap gimmicks ultimately have any political pulling power and they always, always fall flat on their face. So, politicians of all shapes size colours and stripes for the sake of all of us simply cut it out – politics is not cool and never will be and neither are you.