Do you remember where you were when the BBC showed a rerun of Bowie’s Glastonbury set? When we ask each other that in future, the answer is always going to be: ‘At home, recovering from a day of Zoom calls.’ It’s 100 days since lockdown and as we slowly emerge it’s hard to keep a sense of proportion about the events in between. I remember pricking my finger for a trial antibody test; I remember my delight at discovering that an old-time cockney butcher still exists on a nearby council estate; I remember the absolute stillness of the air as a sparrowhawk circled over south London. Best to fix these memories in writing now, because the cryogenic social frost is well and truly melting.
I’m on a public webinar with Katja Kipping and Jagmeet Singh. Katja’s the leader of the Left party’s 69-strong fraction in the Bundestag; Jagmeet heads the Canadian NDP; but there’s only one person people want to hear about — Keir Starmer. Starmer, whose leadership campaign I worked on, has dragged Labour’s polling average up by eight points during the lockdown and his own personal approval ratings are now 12 points positive (compared to Corbyn’s minus 50 on election day). Surely everyone is happy, ask the people on the call? Thanks to WhatsApp, and Twitter, I know that parts of what was once Corbynism are not happy. Each time Starmer steps up to the wicket, calmly batting away calls for him to abolish the police force or support the desecration of monuments, I get a flurry of messages and subtweets. ‘Is this centrism or actual Blairism?’ asks one comrade. A homeopath from Birmingham tells me that, due to my support for Keir, I am a ‘State & Intelligence Agency propagandist play-acting being a plastic communist’.