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Simon Hedges’ tough choices

Tory meltdown means that Labour has become electable by mistake – but the focus must remain on expelling leftists, writes centrism correspondent Simon Hedges

3 to 4 minute read

An emu in a field with a wind-up clock key on its back

How am I meant to write about current affairs under these chaotic conditions? Goodness knows who the prime minister will be when this column is published. If a time traveller from two months into the future knocked on my door and said that Jacob Rees-Mogg had found a clockwork emu called Godwin in his attic and the Tory right had backed it to become leader, I would just have to take it at face value.

Liz Truss did not even last the gap between Red Pepper issues, cruelly forced from power, according to her resignation speech, by ‘global instability’ – or, in other words, just ‘things that are generally happening’. And I suppose this is true if you take that to mean literally anything that has been happening on planet Earth, including, you would imagine, her own incompetence.

Meanwhile, the hard left is showing its deep ignorance of politics yet again, insisting that ‘nothing would change’ with the victory of the Labour Party in a general election. Of course, things would change, you numbskulls. Team A would have to swap with Team B in the House of Commons, with many MPs now facing in entirely the opposite direction.

And with the structure of the parliament buildings now crumbling faster than your average Conservative Party member’s hip joints, they may soon be forced to assemble in a converted shipping container, like a classroom in an underfunded secondary school.

Speaking of which, Sir Keir Starmer has made it very clear that there will now be ‘tough choices’ if he does become PM. ‘A new dawn has broken, has it not?’ he’ll declare when victory is assured. ‘We have been elected as Labour, and we will govern as Cameron, Clegg and Osbourne did from 2010 – austerity here we come baby!’ Starmer will then dramatically turn his pockets inside out to show they are empty, and shrug, confirming that the country is indeed completely skint.

Policies are alienating and divisive

All this will be received with rapturous applause from the political journalists, wiping away tears of nostalgia for the days when austerity caused 300,000 excess deaths without them even noticing. Yes, some crueller members of the public might say that Sir Keir has the personality of a twig, and his voice sounds like a wasp trapped in a bin, but at least he doesn’t have any new policies.

Policies are alienating and divisive, and besides, there is probably too little time now to invent some pledges just to go back on them later without too many people noticing. The sensible adults are back in charge and that means sensible politics, without any sort of social democracy as a little treat.

Corbynism is dead and so are inspiring manifestos – get used to it. At this very moment the Labour Party bigwigs are doing what they do best, going through lists of potential parliamentary candidates and crossing out the names of everyone who has done anything even slightly left-wing.

Nodded approvingly at a tweet from Caroline Lucas saying that Cornwall is nice at this time of year? Out! Signed a petition calling for a real-terms pay rise for nurses? Out! Where there is a suspicion of lefty entryism that can’t be proven, candidates will be taken in for questioning. ‘Are you now or have you ever been a resident of a trendy inner- city suburb? Out! Out! Out! This is the party of towns now, commie!’

Even if the Tory meltdown means that Labour has become electable by mistake, the public must be reminded that all things being equal, a knight of the realm is a better bet to lead the county than Sunak, Johnson or Godwin the clockwork emu.

This article first appeared in issue #238, Winter 2022, Deluge and DroughtSubscribe today to get your magazine delivered hot off the press!

Simon Hedges is by his own admission an ‘Award Winning Quality Journalist’. Sensible people can follow him on Twitter @Orwell_Fan

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