Yes, I know it was over a week ago but people keep asking ‘why didn’t you write about going to see Jeremy Corbyn in Hastings’. Well, simple, because I never actually saw him. Now, get this straight, readers. I don’t like Jezza. I don’t rate him. He is a poor party leader, an ineffectual Leader of the Opposition, and even if he had the remotest chance of leading Labour to win an election he’d be a hopeless Prime Minister. Currently, he is engaged in a folie a deux with with Mrs May – how long can he last without committing himself to a definite position on B….it and how long can she last full stop. However, in a spirit of genuine curiosity Battleaxe thought she’d like to see Corbyn in the flesh, to try to understand why some people think he is utterly fantastic…
Philosopher was worried… ‘You might get converted, ‘ he said, ‘and join Momentum or something’. Nah, no chance.
Last week I had two opportunities – to go to his public speech in the morning, or to accept an invitation to what I thought would be a smaller, more intimate ‘discussion’ event in the afternoon, where we were supposed to be informing future Labour policy yada yada. I rejected the morning session – thought it would just be a horde of crowing Corbynistas, so chose the afternoon session… and you got lunch as well. I’d have quite liked the opportunity to ask him three questions: Question One. What does he think he is going to gain just by preaching to the converted? Question Two. Why was he messing about in Hastings when he should have been in Westminster tackling the B….t crisis? Question Three. What precisely does he expect the ‘many’ that he keeps on about to gain from B…..t?
Had to rush back from a WI meeting in Hailsham to get to the venue, the college by the station, by 12.30 – but then we queued up in the cold for at least half an hour. It was well after 1.00 by the time they let us in. It wasn’t small and intimate at all – there were hundreds of us, as you can see in this pic taken later in the day. No chance for questions there.
‘Have you ever seen Jeremy Corbyn?’ I asked the whiskery man next to me in the sandwich queue. ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘twice. So inspiring… I can’t wait to hear him again.’
‘Did anyone see him this morning? asked a girl. ‘Did he have his lovely red socks on?’
I began to fear I was in the wrong place. How can the colour of his hosiery be of any interest? Well, I just hope they were long red socks which didn’t show his scrawny legs when he sat down.
I got to my designated table, looked at the agenda for the afternoon and my heart sank. The business would be led by Peter Chowney, our local Labour candidate. (He is a very nice man, but I do imagine he will struggle in any election campaign because he is Leader of Hastings BC. Local authorities are unpopular these days as cuts bite still deeper). There would be speeches and presentations,, break-out group exercises, feedback, ‘stories from the floor’ and ‘testimonies’ (about what….?) and Jezza scheduled for a few minutes at the end. I asked one of the organisers when Jez was due to speak… ‘Oh’ he said, ‘they’re running late – not before about 3.45…’ What! It wasn’t even 1.30! ‘You’re having a laugh!’ I said.
I hurried back to the table, wolfed my sandwiches, stood up and put my coat on. My colleagues looked horrified. ‘You’re surely not going?’ I felt a bit guilty because they were obviously very earnest, well-meaning folk who wanted to do their best, but no way was I sitting all through that.
‘Too right I am,’ I said. ‘Enjoy….’ and fled.
One interesting thing to end on…. Jezza and Battleaxe are exactly the same age. Both of us will have our Big Birthdays later this year – his just before mine. I cannot imagine any conceivable scenario in which I’d want to be a leader of a political party – heaven knows why he wants to either. Well, and I know which of us looks younger – and it isn’t him.
He did indeed have red socks on, for anyone who cares….
And, a bit of relief from politics, two lovely, if grey, sea pictures to end on…
St Leonard’s this morning.