The Screwtape Letters
Here are two jokes.
This one comes from a twitter feed called Maomentum. It has been widely circulated by opponents of Jeremy Corbyn:
Over the next few days it is crucial that we fight, and fight, and fight again, to save the party we have loved for the last 10 months!
This one comes from a website called The Daily Mash. It has been equally widely circulated by supporters of Jeremy Corbyn:
For the avoidance of doubt: I mean that both insults would be equally silly.
I supported Labour 1987 and 1992. The '82 election was a month before my 18th birthday. But by 1993 I had formed the opinion that John Smith's shadow Home Secretary was a swivel-eyed lunatic (because of his political exploitation of the grotesque James Bulger murder). When Smith suddenly died in 1994, I said the the cleverest thing I have ever said in my life. "Oh God, please, anyone but Tony Blair."
I don’t understand what it would mean to love a political party, any more than I understand what it would mean to love a refrigerator or a wellington boot.
You may say that I am disengaged from real politics because I only read about it in the newspaper and write about it on the internet, if you want to. You may call what I do "clicktivism" if you like. Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov started his career publishing a fanzine called Pravda which I believe is still going. Maybe if he'd done it on a blog it wouldn't have counted.
When I told this story to my Communist friend he said "But that's the whole trouble with the Left. In an internet age, they are still standing outside railway stations trying to sell newspapers."
The letter is refreshingly free from words like Trot and leftie and communist and I am sorry if I associated myself with people who were using words like traitor and turncoat when Thangam resigned from the shadow cabinet. The claim that Corbyn is incompetent is serious and important. "The reason I voted 'no confidence' in him as leader is because I have no confidence in him as leader" she writes. You can't put it much more clearly or fairly than that.
I do not say that the complaints about incompetence are untrue. I do not say that they are not deeply felt and sincere. Clearly, our man Could Do Better in some respects. But they are not what this is about. This is about politics.
I don't think that The People are stupid or evil. I think that The People are mostly not very interested in politics so if you keep on telling them the same story over and over again for long enough they'll end up sort of kind of assuming that it's true. So someone has to start telling them a different story. Someone has to use every tool of propaganda and advertising and rhetoric to say "It isn’t the immigrants that are making you poor, you chumps, it’s the Tories and their economic policies."
When did we last try that?
1: The author acknowledges that everyone is bored with this topic now and would rather he was was writing about Spider-Man
2: The author acknowledges that this article will annoy all sides of the argument equually. On the plus side, think how much writing he'll be able to do when all his friends have stopped talking to him.
3: The author acknowledges that this article was abandoned before Anyone-But-Corbyn's big speech, and is therefore already out of date.
4: The author acknowledges that the court will give its judgement in about an a hour and a half, very probably making the whole question moot.
5: The author acknowledges that he stole this joke from David Eggers.
7: Oh, and the title is a head-nod to Francis Spufford. If you haven't read his book then you ought to.
This blog is supported by my Patreon backers. If you like what I write, you agree to pay £1 every time I write something. It's a good socialist principal.