Farewell Jeremy Corbyn, it’s your country now
The railways are nationalised, the planes are grounded, the government pays everyone’s wages. It took a Chinese bat to do it, but the Labour leader’s country as he imagined it is his for the taking
In a silent House of Commons in a post-apocalyptic world, with MPs cowering in their second homes hiding from a deathly plague, Jeremy Corbyn rose at the despatch box to give what would, this time, surely, be his final performance at Prime Minister’s Questions.
It would be wrong to say you couldn’t make it up. You could make it up very easily. If you did make it up you’d be rightly accused of lazy writing. The celestial parodists in charge of our little lives are frankly phoning it in. Maybe there’s some sort of pandemic up there and they’re all working from home.
Still, the silence was no more deafening than any of the other 150 or so occasions Corbyn has stood up at the start of PMQs. His MPs were staring down at their phones and iPads as per usual, it’s merely that this time they were doing it from the comfort of their own sofas.
Even in these rarefied times, Boris Johnson did his bit and thanked Mr Corbyn for his service. He praised Jeremy Corbyn for his “sincerity”. Not since a terminally ill Homer Simpson stood over Bart’s bed, searching for some final words for his son and coming up with “I like your sheets” can a compliment have been so excruciatingly hard to come by.
It was hardly the prime minister’s fault. Since Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party, humankind has made its confirmed observations of a super massive black hole and the Higgs boson. It is hoped, though not expected, that discovering one of Jeremy Corbyn’s actual achievements will be the next major breakthrough.
Corbyn thanked him, but told him it had sounded like an “obituary” for a man who wasn’t going anywhere, and would carry on “demanding justice for the people of the world”, for which we must assume the people of the world will carry on being very grateful indeed.
If the occasion had been meant to serve as Corbyn’s political funeral, at least no one will later find themselves having to claim they were present but not involved.
With less serious matters to attend to, it is nice to hope that more time would have been allocated to acknowledge the extraordinary depth and breadth of achievements of one of the true greats of British politics, and I am happy to do my small bit to make up that deficit here.
When Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party, people laughed. They carried on laughing for quite a while, until that laughter turned to agonised tears. Now they laugh again, mainly as a psychological coping strategy.
But all this is very unfair. The great man leaves a legacy the likes of which have never been seen. A proud Eurosceptic of four decades standing, whether Brexit would have happened without his contribution is a subject of such keen debate it is occasionally forgotten that his contribution was technically for the remain side.
People occasionally like to say that we live in Farage’s Britain, but if we ever did then it didn’t last long. This is Corbyn’s Britain. Open your front door, if you dare, and take a look around.
Richard Branson dared to cross him once, through having the temerity to point out that the “ram-packed” train on which he had sat on the floor filming a woe-is-me self-martyring video of himself, was in fact the same train in which polite staff found him a spare, unreserved seat then ushered him to it.
And now look. It’s not merely that the railways have been nationalised, the planes have been grounded too, and poor Dicky B is tapping up the government for a bailout. Don’t mess with Magic Grandpa.
Corbyn may never have entered government, but the government is nonetheless still investigating innovative digital ways in which it might fine us if we leave our houses without permission, turning a once conspicuously consuming society into a digital panopticon. Not even in his most dystopian fantasies did George Orwell ever dare to dream so big.
The supermarket shelves are empty, the investment banks have sent everyone home, the state has taken over the private sector and is paying everybody’s wages and the only people who aren’t going to get sacked at the end of it all are the ones who work for the NHS.
At the time of writing, even the future of the monarchy is looking precarious. There could soon be no national anthem for any of us not to sing.
Of course, the churlish among you may cling to the notion that all this has in fact been achieved not through Corbyn’s very long years of very well-paid and entirely ineffective public service, but by a bat who bit a pangolin then crapped on the floor of a Chinese market.
But as the sign on Ronald Reagan’s White House desk said, “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he does not mind who gets the credit.”
There’s no point denying it. It’s Corbyn’s Britain now, we’re all just climbing up our bedroom walls, praying that it won’t last long.