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Rod Liddle

Could a pot of yoghurt defeat David Cameron?

Labour seems to be trying to find out

26 March 2016

9:00 AM

26 March 2016

9:00 AM

I do not know if it has officially been measured, but my guess is that Christine Shawcroft, a member of Labour’s National Executive Committee, has an IQ of somewhere in the region of six. This would put her, in the global hierarchy of intelligence, directly between one of those Activia yoghurts women eat to relieve constipation and some moss.

I’m sure Christine would argue, perhaps forcibly, that intelligence is an overrated, elitist concept and that no store should be put by it. Judging people by whether they are too thick to breathe in and out fairly regularly is discriminatory. The views of an imbecile, or, say, a Jerusalem artichoke, are just as valid as those expressed by someone who can punch in the correct numbers at an ATM instead of standing there, slack-jawed and frowning, occasionally headbutting the screen in frustration while the queue behind grows longer and longer.

I’ve always been of the view that an awful lot of what the middle-class liberal left believes in is self-interest disguised as compassion. They like immigration primarily because it means their kitchen extensions, nannies and taxi drivers are all a lot cheaper. It now occurs to me that perhaps their dislike of competition, whether in sport or in intelligence testing, is a consequence of they themselves being utterly useless. This is a Darwinian view of the mentally disabled metro left. I’m sure Richard Dawkins would agree with it.

Christine recently delivered herself of the view that the best way to deal with the Islamic State is to sit down and ‘have cups of tea’ with them. Indeed, she went on, ‘Having cups of tea might actually be the best kind of system of defence and national security that you could have.’ In Christine’s world, we are all on the same page. We share common beliefs and aspirations. All of us — you, me, Christine, Jihadi John, Kim Jong-un — want a kitchen extension with Smallbone of Devizes work units and a nice sancerre in the Neff fridge. The differences between us are petty and easily solvable.


In a sense, Tony Blair also held this view, believing that the people of the Middle East shared essentially the same values as us and were peaceable democrats at heart. His method of enabling them to realise these aspirations was by bombing them, Christine’s is to offer them a nice cup of tea and perhaps a Hobnob. Both are of course mistaken. The world is a more complex and difficult place than either are willing to imagine.

Christine was formerly the Labour group leader on Tower Hamlets council, so it may well be that she has already had a cup of tea with several putative members of the Islamic State. She also supported the fraudulent Muslim thug and mayor of the benighted borough, Lutfur Rahman, and was briefly suspended by her party for so doing. But then she was readmitted — much as was the parliamentary candidate for Woking, Vicki Kirby, who believes that Jews have big noses, Israel is an evil state and suggested that Adolf Hitler was the ‘Zionist God’. Anyway, Christine is still on the National Executive Committee. The NEC is a highly influential institution within the Labour party. Perhaps its next edict will be to insist that our independent nuclear deterrent, Trident, is scrapped forthwith and the contract handed over to Tetley.

I read about Christine’s blueprint for the defence of our nation on the same day I learned that Labour was now ahead in the polls. It was almost impossible to compute these two facts. You may remember that a couple of weeks ago, ICM published a poll for the Guardian which showed Labour and the Conservatives neck and neck on 36 points. So utterly appalled and disbelieving were ICM by these findings that they immediately, and extraordinarily, disowned the poll as being ‘rogue’ and ‘somewhat misleading’. You can imagine the scene inside ICM as they totted the figures up: Christ help us, that can’t possibly be true. The British people are stupid but they can’t be that stupid. But au contraire. Last weekend’s YouGov poll put Labour on 34 and the Tories on 33. Jeremy has a lead.

He is benefitting, obviously enough, from the Conservative party ripping itself to bits in a seething miasma of hatred. But he is also benefitting from the bar having been set absurdly low. He will benefit again, then, when the results of the May local elections come through: Labour will not do as badly as many experts predict and not nearly as badly as many otherwise sensible people in the party hope. Corbyn is actually popular with the yoghurt/moss brains of London and beyond the metropolis he is not regarded as palpably worse than Ed Miliband — perhaps rightly. His public image and personal demeanour is much more likeable than Miliband’s and the fact that he is a doctrinaire, anti-British ideologue who hasn’t had a fresh political thought in 40 years has not yet percolated through.

Perhaps it never will: it might simply be enough that he is regarded as being anti-establishment and therefore the recipient — like Bernie Sanders, like Nigel Farage, like Donald Trump and the new populist right-wing and left-wing parties in Europe — of a certain amount of respect for simply stickin’ it to the man, however ineptly. This is enough, in itself, to give him a poll rating somewhere in the middle thirties, even if it is unlikely to stretch much beyond that region.

And it means that the Labour party is saddled with him for a much longer time than it imagined, no matter how many television studios are occupied, in the meantime, by the importuning likes of Dan Jarvis, Tristram Hunt and Chuka Umunna. Corbyn will not be ousted in the summer. And beyond that — the general election. As I said at the time of his election as leader, it is perhaps improbable but a long, long, way from impossible that Jeremy Corbyn might one day be Prime Minister. The Yoghurt/Moss Alliance may yet have its day.


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