Rod Liddle

Diane’s grey matter and Labour’s sticky votes

Diane Abbott’s dwindling grey matter and Labour’s surprisingly sticky vote

Diane’s grey matter and Labour’s sticky votes
Text settings

I awoke the other morning to hear Diane Abbott’s brains leaking out of her ears and all over the carpet during an interview with LBC’s excellent Nick Ferrari. You will need a mop and a bucket very sharpish, I thought to myself, as she gabbled on, the hole beneath her feet growing larger with every syllable she uttered. Diane has had the brain leakage problem before, many times, and my worry is that following the LBC debacle there is almost nothing left inside her skull at all, just a thin greyish residue resembling a kind of fungi or leaf mould. This would leave her on an intellectual par with Emily Thornberry, a disaster for Labour. Later Diane explained that she had ‘misspoken’ during the interview — but how were we to know? She seems to misspeak in perpetuity. How are we to distinguish between the meant idiocies and the accidental idiocies?

Later, listening to the news, I learned that the Conservative lead in the polls had been cut quite sharply, with Labour experiencing a genuine priapism. I have mentioned here many times before that Labour’s vote is rather more ‘sticky’, as the pollsters put it, than anybody else expects or indeed the party deserves. They will not be wiped out, glorious though such an eventuality might be. But I had not expected people to actually change their minds in favour of Labour — that thought never really occurred.

I wonder sometimes if the electorate is taking the piss a bit? They hear Diane or some other floundering ESN Labour trog on the radio and think to themselves: how funny would it be if these clowns actually won? At least it would give us a good laugh. That’s a possibility. Or perhaps people have decided to vote Labour because George Monbiot told them to in the Guardian. That could be the answer. I rarely take any important decision in my life without checking first what George thinks about it — I know my social betters and pay heed to their instructions.

Because those two points aside, I can’t see any reason why people would suddenly think to themselves: ‘Well, I’ve mulled it over and looked at the options, and I have to say, Jeremy Corbyn seems the most rational choice for me.’ The polls are, as ever, a mystery.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister had a reportedly difficult dinner date with the man who really delivered Brexit; not Nigel Farage, but the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker. Every time this puffed-up and half-cut Luxembourgish boll weevil opened his fat mouth last summer, the Leave vote will have risen by a few hundred thousand. I genuinely believe that if, by some miracle of chance, he had ceased to exist last May, Remain might well have won.

Anyway, one knew that the meeting between the two was not going to go well by the kiss executed on the doorstep of No. 10. It was that air-kiss thing that takes place exclusively between people who genuinely hate each other. I used to do it with my ex-wife’s sister, Alison. The important thing is to avoid coming into contact with the other party so as to avoid being a little bit sick in your mouth. OK, I had not expected Theresa and Jean-Claude actually to snog with tongues — although given that it was after lunchtime, anything is possible with Juncker. But there was a froideur from the start.

Later Juncker, or his people, leaked the details of the meeting; in particular the fact that the Commission president believed Theresa May was living in a different galaxy to the one he inhabits. Yes, J-C, she inhabits this one, over here, not yours: i.e., Cosmos Redshift7 in the constellation Sextans, almost 13 billion light years from Earth. It was also reported that Juncker left the meeting thinking the Prime Minister ‘deluded’ and that he was ‘ten times more sceptical’ about Brexit than he had been before.

The main point of contention was the government’s refusal to stump up the £51 billion divorce bill before trade negotiations might start. The commission insisted that the EU was not a ‘golf club’ where one might leave without paying the next 20 years’ worth of membership charges. No indeed. It is more like signing up to one of those fraudulent car deals where you pay and pay and pay and don’t even own the car in the end, but have to pay out a vast sum just to cancel the contract.

None of this will hurt Theresa May and the Conservatives: battles with Brussels never do hurt the UK, until we give in. But Juncker’s petulance and arrogance will diminish even further his standing and influence within the remaining 27 countries of the EU, the vast majority of which desire strong trade links with a country which wishes to buy their products, and are not motivated by spite, pique and a desperation — an overriding, self-interested but also ideo-logical obsession — to hold the entire EU caboodle together.

There is a widening gap between the elected leaders of each European country and the appointed EU and EC panjandrums; the people from places like Luxembourg — kind of like Rutland with postage stamps. Even Juncker must appreciate the shift. Only two weeks ago it was entirely possible that the French presidential election final would be contested between two people who wished France effectively to leave the EU. That would have been the end of it.

Even now, that election might still presage the end, and there are more difficult elections to come elsewhere. The EU is teetering on the brink of either extinction or — the reason I voted Leave, in the hope that this might happen — a comprehensive reformation. Labour may have climbed a few points in the polls over here, but Theresa May’s position is still far more secure than Juncker’s.