One of the biggest demos in British history and I was trapped behind a desk doing my late-life Saturday job. Earlier life Saturday employment includes the Co-op, the Daily/Sunday Mirror in Manchester and the Observer for a three-year stretch of Saturdays.
I couldn’t be there but would like to have joined friends on the Put it to the People march. At least two other people didn’t make the march. One was too busy rolling herself in the bubble-wrap of self-delusion and the other fancied a day out in Morecambe.
Theresa May had the perfect excuse not to roll up to a million-strong protest inspired in part by her tin-eared refusal to listen to anyone else about Brexit. And she was at least there in cruel cartoonish effigy and placard mockery (although my favourite two slogans were May-free – “Fromage not Farage” and the Eng Lit-powered “52% Pride And Prejudice 48% Sense And Sensibility).
But what about Jeremy Corbyn?
Corbyn devotees will tell you that there are more important issues than Brexit. The man himself would far rather talk about the harmful effects of Tory austerity – and he has a point, but only about the austerity and not about Brexit.
The country stands before a raging torrent that must be navigated somehow. While everyone discusses how to get across, Jeremy Corbyn sits on the ground and tells sad stories about austerity. Even if he’s right, his actions won’t help us to bridge that foaming river.
Yes, Theresa May can carry the can for this Brexit shitstorm, but Jeremy Corbyn can’t escape all blame or censure. Yes again, May has only framed Brexit in terms of attempting to preserve herself and her party (good luck on both counts – and she could be gone before I’m done typing this sentence, as the Brexit plotline does move quickly).
And yes once more, the biggest issue facing the country since the war has been reduced to a Tory party squabble designed to appease the most right-wing Brexit-lovers and hasn’t been aimed at all at calming a divided country. That 52/48 division was rubbed away from Mrs May’s Big Book of Brexit Fibs.
Whatever his most ardent adherents will say, Jeremy Corbyn has stayed unambiguously ambiguous about Brexit, ignoring the views of many party members, and failing to take advantage of May’s many weaknesses. He allowed his deputy, Tom Watson, to make the speeches yesterday – and left his keenest supporters to do down Watson on social media, where he was dismissed as some sort of Blairite devil.
All this bellowing partisanship from both main parties doesn’t do much to inspire the less than ardently faithful. For my sins and sometimes for my foolishness, I always vote Labour. Will Jeremy Corbyn’s calculated dithering over Brexit finally change the voting habit of a lifetime? Hard to say right now, but he’s not offering much inspiration.
Still, he did find time to pose beside that cheerful statue of Eric Morecambe while not attending the big march, having quixotically concluded that forthcoming local elections were more important than Brexit.
Thanks to one Twitter wit for the new caption he put on the official photo – “All the right policies but not necessarily in the right order.”