Thursday, 30 June 2016

We Need to Talk About Corbyn

But, hang on, why do we need to talk about Corbyn?

Hasn't everyone been talking about him for months at the expense of any attention towards Tory infighting? And wasn't it that Tory infighting which led to the referendum, which led to "Leave", which led to us finding ourselves suddenly flash-forwarded eighteen months into a Baltar presidency on New Caprica scratching a living on bare rock, stuck in a civil war and about to be marched into a ditch by killer robots? Why - some will ask - why do we need to talk about Labour when it's the Tories who got us in this mess? Well, because the ship of state's been steered into that iceberg and so our first priority now has to be to check on the lifeboats, surely?
So what's going on with these lifeboats then?

Shit, he's found the truth glasses! Is everyone who's calling for Corbyn to resign a Blairite then? Because that would make Gordon Brown a Blairite and that can't be right, can it? Is Ed Miliband a Blairite now? Is this whole drip drip of resignations a coup organised by Portland Communciations as reported by The Canary, or just a snowballing manifestation of grievances borne by workers who feel completely unsupported by their boss? If Portland organised the coup, did they also pay Ken Livingstone to bang on madly about Hitler? Are they paying John McDonnell to alienate his entire party by not employing anyone from it? Are they firing a keep-being-shit-at-sight-reading ray at Corbyn every PMQs?

I joined the Labour party last year and I wrote here why (in short, it was because I wanted the opposition to become more involved in the grass roots anti-austerity movements that had sprung up under the coalition, and because I could finally bear to watch Ed Miliband talk) and I voted for Corbyn this year and wrote why here (again, it was because he was the only member standing who opposed austerity). I voted for him because I wanted to see. And now we've seen. We've seen that the PLP is more than happy to take a stand against austerity and actually do some opposing now...

And we've seen that Jeremy Corbyn still can't sight-read for shit. But so what? Let him be the manager and send shadow ministers onto the pitch with more fire in their bellies. Shadow ministers like Angela Eagle - Oh, she resigned... or Heidi Alexander - Oh, she's resigned.... or Chris Bry- Oh...

So who's snatching defeat from the jaws of victory here? The "traitors", for turning on their democratically elected leader just as the Tories are in disarray? Or Corbyn, for showing himself ready to risk splitting an opposition finally dedicated to ending austerity? Should I be worried? The Canary called those resignations a "call for celebration", so... hooray? Is it really impossible for Labour to unite under Corbyn? When his own grass-roots mobiliser "Momentum" proposed this petition under the headline "This is a time for Labour to be united" I asked one of those sharing the petition on twitter a question that had been bothering me ever since I'd read Chris Bryant's resignation letter - "How will keeping Corbyn unite Labour?" This was his response:

And that really does seem to be his plan: unity by means of getting rid of everyone who won't unite on his terms or, to give it its technical name, division. Or else he has no plan. Sure, there are far smarter people than me who think Corbyn is the saviour of the party, especially with the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War still yet to be published, but there are also far dumber people. And where's the integrity in treating the support of your MPs in such a cavalier manner, in dismissing them as "right-wing"? Was Jo Cox, shot and stabbed to death in the lead up to the referendum, right-wing? Would she have joined the "traitors"? We'll never know. I've certainly changed my tune.

The thing is I've supported a lot of strikes recently (in my head I mean, I haven't left the house or anything), strikes called by workers at their wits' end because of a management that shows more interest in alienating its own workforce than doing its job. And this, to me, is definitely that. Corbyn won. He really did win. The opposition that in 2015 seemed perpetually stupified by its own history into a scared fug of meaningless soundbites is unrecognisable now, government policy after government policy has failed to make it through the house, and finally the Prime Minister's resigned. So Corbyn won. And now I, one of the thousands who democratically elected him, think we should let him go. Yeah, perhaps you gathered that. I'm going to leave things with more Angela Eagle. Whatever your opinions on Brexit, Corbyn, or the Parliamentary Labour Party, I think you'll find that this clip - particularly from 4 minutes, 20 seconds onwards - provides some excellent, horrible foreshadowing of the last seven days in politics. And there's braying, be warned. But maybe that's what winning sounds like.


(Thanks to Adam Macqueen for the screenshot at the top.)

Saturday, 25 June 2016


We're still in France. This river's called the Orb. My parents here receive a monthly pension in pounds. Hopefully by the time of the next payment that pound will have stopped wobbling or the euro will have dropped as well. That's what they're hoping. I figured out yesterday what the Brexit result felt like, over here, not in Britain. What is feels like. It feels like being dumped. I don't mean that as an analogy. I think both me and my girlfriend feel like we've been dumped. And yet here we are, still on holiday, together, which is weird.

Here, I think is where "Remain" may have gone wrong (and it's also where Labour may have gone wrong last election): If trust in politicians is as low as it is right now, you're wasting your time trying to win it back, that's too slow a game. Just promise more stuff. That's what won last year's election for the Tories and it's clearly what won this referendum for "Leave". It's also why those who claim to  trust politicians the least always perversely vote for the least trustworthy politicians, because they're the ones promising the most stuff. (And it doesn't bode well at all for Hilary Clinton.) But here's my plan. Here's how we stay in the EU:

We never actually leave, we just tell everyone who voted to leave that we have.

I mean, what are they going to do? Check?

Anyway that was yesterday, here's to today. Today we went to Sete. It's the second biggest port in the south of France. It has THIS terrifying fountain honouring Cthulu in one of its town squares. And it has jousting gondolas. And we caught some of that. We're still in France.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

The Optimist of Earl's Court

I was filming a short in Earl's Court over the weekend. As I sat in a cab, waiting to roll, a tanned middle-aged couple swept by chanting "British Laws for British People!" - I'm inferring the capitals - and waving "Leave" stickers like Madame Bertaux swinging the Tricolor. That is to say, jauntily. "No! No! Why?" I howled out of the cab window. The woman beamed as she headed out of view: "Yes! Yes! We should be able to write our own laws!" There was no one around to ask what she meant by "we".

Three hours earlier she and I had struck up a conversation in Philbeach Gardens. The crescent was plastered with "Remain" and "Leave" posters.* It was a quiet street. The woman was heading indoors with some purchases and had seen us filming. As we chatted I tried to maintain eye-contact through her shades and not let my gaze drift to the sticker in her window. She asked when she could see what we were filming and I didn't know. I did know the short was part of some council initiative because I was getting very nicely paid for it (we weren't allowed to say anything nasty about the Royal Family in Brompton Cemetery, that was part of the deal.)
"So will this be on at the New Art Centre?" she asked.
I didn't know about any Art Centre. Apprarently - I didn't know this either - Earl's Court exhibition centre is no more. "But do you know what they'll be building in its place?" she confided, "Housing obviously, but - and we've been pushing very hard for this - Do you know Covent Garden? A Covent Garden! But here! A cultural centre. Here in Earl's Court."
"Crikey!" I offered "So... like... Covent Garden?" I was picturing gift shops fringed by gangsters dressed as floating Yodas.
"Yes. Or an Arts Centre or something. Wouldn't that be wonderful? We have two Tory councillors who are absolutely behind it all the way, and one Lib Dem who is proving a proper pain. Wants nothing to do with the redevelopment."
"So it would be...?"
"A proper venue, a thousand-seater. Because I mean they've got to put something. They can't just tear down Earl's Court. Everyone's behind it."
"And do you think it will happen?" I asked, trying to think of a precedent.
"Well they've got to."
"But do you think they actually will?"
"No," she corrected me, "They've got to."

Serena from make-up came over and asked to see what the lady was holding. I'd been so busy maintaining eye-contact I hadn't noticed the square, lacquered box. She opened it. A clock rocked between several brass hoops.
"It's a chronometer. Isn't it lovely?"
It was. My brain translated "time" and "meter"... "Oh wow. What's it for?"
"It's a chronometer."
"Is it like a clock? I mean, what would it have been used for?"
"Telling the time."
"But I mean, what's the difference between that and a clock?"
"I don't know. They had them on ships."

Three hours even earlier, I was hobbling down Earl's Court road in clogs and a dressing gown splattered with fake vomit, howling red-eyed into paving stones.
Speaking of the referendum, remember this from 2011?

*That would have been a good photo. I wish I'd taken it. I'm not supposed to share any photos of the shoot either, so accompanying this post instead is a picture Keeps took of what I did yesterday and where I did it, which is why I couldn't be at the polls today. Sorry, history.