I was settling in to watch the first televised Labour Leadership debate and thinking of Peter Pettigrew. You know, the rat from Harry Potter, played by Timothy Spall. More about whom, later. But first the leaders debate..
Since he threw his hat in the ring, the press have largely fallen over themselves to brand Jeremy Corbyn, who a lot of people wouldn’t have even heard of until recently, as some rabid, political extemeist. Such is his supposed liability that some Tory supporters are even talking about covertly taking up Labour’s three quid associate membership’s offer, thus allowing them to vote in the leadership contest, the idea being that if they can vote Corbyn in as leader, he will be be an unpopular choice in 2020, so enabling more years of Toryism.
In this televised first-look at all the candidates together, no one could deny that it was Jeremy who got the most applause breaks from an audience that hardly came across as a bunch of revolutionaries and militants. They seemed politically weary, in a heard it all before way, but then surprisingly enthused by what this ‘new bloke’ had to say. The thrust of Corbyn’s extremist views? Well, as far as this first debate’s offerings went, it was mainly that the government shouldn’t, he suggested, be using the need to reduce the country’s deficit as an excuse for making truly disadvantaged people poorer, homeless and suicidal. Wow. Have you recovered yet? I mean, even if you completely disagree with that as an ideal, it is hardly a howling at the moon, bat-shit crazy idea. It’s just currently, it would seem, a very unfashionable one.
There is nowadays, in this post election-loss hangover period, a lot of talk around the subject of ‘traditional Labour values’ which, some say, are old-fashioned, out of touch and from a different age. But let’s face it, the Tories are hardly working to a spanking new script theirselves are they?. They’ve been hammering the disadvantaged for a long long time in various guises and packages, and probably can’t believe their luck at being given a mandate to push on with these severe austerity policies, which you might reasonably think are somewhat medieval for the type of modern, visionary party they keep saying that they are. Hmm..
I must be missing something, because, unless this government has some super new cures for all diseases and disabilities, lots of very highly paid jobs ready to roll out, plus acres of new social housing, then the fact is, if you are not very well off, you or a family member, or close friend, are likely to need support from a welfare state at some point. Maybe even long term. So nothing is more baffling to me than people with not much money, and restricted life-chances, being convinced by the super-rich that it is a good idea to take away their safety nets. Just don’t get it. Seems to be like a national outbreak of Political Stockholm Syndrome..
In any case, it should be an interesting few weeks, and I’m sure Corbyn will have his work cut out, to make any lasting mark. But just the sheer novelty of hearing opinions from a Labour MP, that don’t shy away from the ‘old fashioned’ ideas of compassion and fairness, was most refreshing. Indeed, just to listen to one of them vocalizing a possible alternative scenario to austerity, in a matter-of-fact and rational way, seemed so rare and foreign to the ear, that it highlighted most starkly, just how far Labour has wandered away from anything remotely approaching showing genuine concern for society’s weakest members. However, if you disagree with Mr Corbyn’s ideas and are fine with austerity, yet not well off yourself, then good luck with that, Peter Pettigrew.
Oh yes, I said I’d explain my Peter principle didn’t I?. Where does Pettigrew come in? Well, it’s just that non-wealthy Tory voters remind me a lot of the frightened rat, Peter Pettigrew, or Wormtail as he was nicknamed, from Harry Potter. Fawning and falling over himself to do Voldemort’s bidding, regardless of the fact that the Dark Lord does not give a single solitary rat’s ass-hair about him or his well being. But still he grovels, bowed, hungry for praise. But he is inconsequential and expendable. Just like the sick and weak, the austerity victims and their families are to the Cameron, Osborne, IDS, Gove, May and all the other Death-Eaters…