Jeremy Corbyn via Monty Python and the Holy Grail

When Ed Milliband lost the election for being unable to eat a bacon sandwich in a photogenic manner, much hand-wringing occurred. I rang my hands along with the rest of the nation.

Much like the Brexit vote, there was a general air of disbelief (although to a lesser degree) that the omnishambolic Tories had actually won a majority. Since then, Clegg has been reinvented as some sort of wise sage who can tell it like it is, rather than as the enabler of a lot of Tory policy. Such is the fickle nature of politics I suppose.

I had joined the Labour party shortly after the coalition declared war on decency and was fairly convinced that an Ed lead administration would start to put things, if not right, than a bit more “righter”. It was not to happen and we were left with some sort of vacuum into which various factions sprung.

The two biggest factions were those who wanted the status quo in the Labour Party and those who wanted a radical change. I think of the first as the “Swamp Castle” lot, after the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail that went something like this:

Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built in all the same, just to show them. It sank into the swamp. So I built a second one. And that one sank into the swamp. So I built a third. That burned down, fell over, and then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed up.

Basically, the Blairites wanted to beat the Tories by doing more of what had lost them the last two elections. This seemed a bit silly to me. Lets be tough on immigration but not as tough as the Tories, because we’re nice. Let’s be tough on benefit fraud, even though an analysis of the data shows it’s not an issue because that’s what works for the Tories. I wasn’t entirely convinced we could wait for the fourth (metaphorical) castle to be built before the policy actually worked.

Those in favour of a radical change, I mentally noted as Dennis and the Peasants from… Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Can you see a theme here? Their whole way of doing things is anti-establishment and focused on gaining representation from the common man:

Oh, king eh? Very nice. And how’d you get that, eh? By exploiting the workers. By hanging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society….Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

Corbyn was never meant to win of course, and the fact that he did, twice, with a larger mandate the second time round, suggests to me that the first bunch, the Swamp Castlers, were not that popular with the party members because they’d lost a second election, despite the Tories generally making almost everyone poorer.

The problem is the Swamp Castlers remain the more popular internal faction of the Labour party to those not in the party because they represent the status quo that might not be everything you want but at least it’s a known entity and how we’ve always done things.

That’s perhaps a little unfair as the Swamp Castlers are also de facto more popular than the Dennisers for reasons to do with the Dennisers conduct.

I’ll put my hands up and say I was a Denniser in both of the leadership elections since the general election. I don’t know what I am at the moment though and that’s the problem. I think some Dennis is probably what the Labour party needs but I’m not sure Corbyn is necessarily the right Dennis.

It’s difficult to cut through the perpetual spin from all sides to know what is exactly going on though:

  • The BBC seem more obsessed with getting Farage on than the leader of the opposition. He’s literally everywhere, from Marr to Question Time. I’ve read stories of McDonald being dropped on the day from Marr as well.
  • Momentum and a few well meaning and loud individuals like Marcus Chown constantly repeating their “It’s a conspiracy against Corbyn, we told you so from day one” mantra doesn’t help. Who knows what is a genuine cock up when someone is loudhailing you to say it’s not a cock up, it’s a conspiracy.
  • Constant attempts to get a man in a brown suit (well, I suppose he has a new one now) to engage in personal attack rather than the policy he has said he’ll focus on makes for boring telly, which leads to less of him on the telly.
  • What little Jezza actually says often time seems contradictory.

I had a vague theory for a while that Corbyn had read the same obscure secondary world fantasy series as me in the mid 1980’s. It involved a kingdom on the edge of ruin, run by a senile geriatric King called Joyse. (Stephen Donaldson’s duology Mordants Need if you must know). In the final reckoning it turned out the King wasn’t senile after all. When the kingdom was at the height of it’s powers he foresaw a time when it’s neighbours would be strong enough to overcome him on their terms. So he spent twenty years pretending to be mad, drawing them out to fight him prematurely, exposing all their agents embedded in his court and so on and allowing him to crush them.

I would have liked to have thought the current chief Denniser was basically giving the Tories enough rope to hang themselves with for a very long time. What’s better that saying with complete conviction that your opponents will destroy the health service, or wreck education? Letting them actually wreck the health service and education and then get voted out for power for generations. Yes, it may take forever and a day to restore the things that have been wrecked but who better to do it than someone with a mandate from the masses?

But it’s not working, even if it is the plan, which I’m not convinced it is. As the Red Cross prepare to do everything short of setting up field hospitals, as big serious charities like the Joseph Roundtree Foundation talk about record numbers living in working poverty, as foodbank use sees levels never seen before, May can give a speech saying she wants to be seen as someone promoting social justice, without being laughed out of the country.

The latest YouGov poll puts the Tories 13 points above Labour in the polls.

It begs the question of what the Tories would have to do to have some sort of slump. People dying on the streets, dying slowly of starvation, sitting on a trolley at the back of A&E for 3 days (as the son of a friend did after suffering convulsions while on chemotherapy recently), doesn’t seem to have dented the enthusiasm for their rule.

It’s a bit of a head scratcher.

It’s also a head scratcher with what we should do with our head Denniser now. Is it right that we should have a Dennis? Has the last year proved that we need what we have but slightly watered down because it’s what people want, or has it shown that we need a Dennis but the right Dennis. Maybe someone could have a word with the moistened bint who goes around lobbing scimitars, she might know better than us after all…

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