If you did not get to hear Jeremy Corbyn’s response to Theresa May’s abysmal speech this afternoon, I suggest you don’t make an effort to find it. If May’s speech was vacuous, plodding, incoherent and largely dishonest – and it was all of these and more – then compared to Corbyn she was brilliant, which she most certainly wasn’t. We live in the darkest of dark times.
May always appears if she has won a contest to become PM and no one has told her what to do. By contrast, Corbyn closely resembles Chauncey Gardiner, the simple-minded Chance the gardener played by Peter Sellers in Being There, who finds himself being propelled towards the American presidency despite not having a single qualification to be there. The similarity is incredible.
Remember Corbyn, the rock star at Glastonbury in 2017, embracing the wide-eyed enthusiasm of thousands of young middle class festival goers who had somehow been persuaded that this elderly career backbencher represented the future politics of his country. If he had stood on stage and broke wind into the microphone or exposed himself, Corbyn would still have received rapturous applause from those who didn’t know that in fact here was the day before yesterday’s man, pumping out reheated ideas that failed in the 1980s in the manner of the terrible public speaker that he is. Many of his middle class cult following still see him as some Magic Grandpa. The rest of us know he has been found wanting at the highest level, rather like a footballer from the Downs League in Bristol making his debut for Manchester United.
It is during times like today when Corbyn’s many limitations are exposed. His leaden-tongued presentation of speeches clearly written by his top team (probably his top henchman Seumas Milne) is bad enough. Even a good speech would be wasted on Corbyn when he usually sounds like this is the first time he has even seen it.
Watch MPs from both sides of the House, but particularly his own, looking anywhere but at the man himself. He lacks any ability to think on his feet or improvise, just like the prime minister to be fair, and he cannot hold the audience attention at all. He is simply not up to being leader of the opposition (LOTO) or anywhere else on the front bench for that matter. He belongs at protest marches where he can bathe in the love from people who already agree with him. A future PM must surely be better than that?
Corbyn isn’t better than that. He is not a great thinker, he’s a terrible speaker, he has a foul temper, he has some unpleasant friends (Hamas, Hezbollah, the IRA, Chris Williamson) and, here I repeat myself, he isn’t any good.
A half-decent Labour leader would have seen off Theresa May, a lamentable politician in her own right. Any one of Yvette Cooper, Dan Jarvis, Owen Smith and countless others would have laid waste to such a poor PM at the dispatch box. Corbyn rarely lays a glove on her. He never will.
When Brexit is a done deal, the Tories will get shot of May and they will, if they are sensible, pick someone who is far better than her as leader. If they do, and Labour stays with Corbyn, I see only one result at the next general election: a Conservative landslide. Mere competence alone would draw a firm line between someone vaguely competent and Corbyn. That is not much to ask. The last thing the country needs is Johnson or David Davis v Corbyn.
Corbyn was woeful today. He is always woeful. It is instructive to read the comments of his close allies who will know privately the major limitations of the man they would make king when they dream out loud of him walking along Downing Street. Yet somehow they pretend he’s some kind of political genius, the purveyor not of damaged goods but shiny new goods, quite unlike any other politician we have ever seen. Well since Corbyn the backbencher, that is.
We are not blessed with great politicians at the time of national crisis. Incredibly, Labour has, in Corbyn, someone who could actually make things worse than Theresa May. If people seriously think Corbyn is the future, they have clearly forgotten his past.