The comrades were in the bunker for their daily strategy meeting. There was one empty chair.
“Where’s Jeremy?” asked spin doctor Seumas Milne. “This is an important meeting. We’ve got an announcement to make today which will be popular with the public.”
Everyone sat up in amazement. A popular policy? They’d never tried that one before.
John McDonnell looked puzzled. “I thought we were building a social movement, not trying to win an election.”
Then Jeremy Corbyn came in clutching a Co-op shopping bag filled with home made jams and a prize-winning marrow. “Sorry I’m late, I blame the newspapers.”
“Anyway,” continued Milne. “About this popular announcement. We’re going to promise an extra 10,000 coppers, all of whom will be put out on the beat. We’ve costed the whole policy on the back of a fag packet so it will stand up to scrutiny. Who shall we put up to the media this morning to explain the policy?”
“I know,” said Corbyn, to cheers around the room. “Diane Abbott!”
And so it came to pass that during an interview with LBC’s Nick Ferrari, Abbott was involved in a major radio car crash and start talking what us political operators refer to as bollocks. She had no idea of the facts and figures and made herself look a complete idiot, which of course is what she is. The trouble is it makes the Labour Party look ridiculous, too.
Having heard Abbott’s implosion, Seumas Milne obviously re-thought his strategy. We need, he concluded, a skilled and well-briefed communicator to get Labour’s message across. As none were available, Yasmin Qureshi, was sent out and immediately smashed into the carnage left behind by Abbott. If you didn’t know better – and I am not sure you do – you’d think Labour was deliberately trying to lose the coming general election. There is no evidence to suggest otherwise.
Thus a potentially popular policy announcement is overshadowed by incompetence, the incompetence of the messengers but also those who chose the messengers in the first place. Let’s be serious about this. Would you, unless you were Theresa May, allow Diane Abbott to comment on anything at all? To say she is a loose cannon is an insult to loose cannons everywhere. To make matters worse, Corbyn said he was “not embarrassed in the slightest” by Abbott’s claim that the cost of 10,000 additional police officers would cost the taxpayer anything between £300,000 and £80 million when the actual figure is nearer £300 million, plus another £100 million plus to pay for them to be trained. If Labour’s wretched leader is not embarrassed by Abbott, the man has no shame at all.
This is the tragedy of Labour, now in the control of a bunch of hard left buffoons who could not be trusted to run a bath never mind her majesty’s loyal (or disloyal) opposition. With Theresa May turning into a robot, travelling from town to town, avoiding the media and droning on repeatedly about “strong and stable”, “a country that works for everyone”, “in the national interest”, “ordinary working people” and of course “coalition of chaos”, the door is wide open for Labour to get its message across, or it would be if Labour had any such message to get across, which so far it hasn’t.
When you hear that Diane Abbott is a member of Corbyn’s “inner circle”, you know the game is up. The Maybot may be nothing more than a Margaret Thatcher tribute act, spouting empty cliches over and over again and yet the opposition can’t lay a glove on her (metaphorically, of course).
If May is out of her depth as prime minister – and I think she is – then Labour’s front bench hardly offer a credible government in waiting. Or opposition for that matter.