This Labour leadership thing is getting right on my tits.
A piece of human candy floss in the Guardian has said, in an utterly non-patronising way, that the swell of support for ‘left-wing’ leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn is nowt but ‘an emotional spasm‘.
What a peculiar phrase, don’t you think? As I commented at the time on Facebook (yes, I’m recycling my jokes now) I had an emotional spasm the other day, but it wasn’t over Jeremy Corbyn.
Ms Perkins has also described ‘the Jeremy Corbyn surge‘. (At this point I’d quite like to link to a video of ‘The Gush’ clip on Jam, but I’ll leave you nice folks to google that yourself as it’s possible – eminently so – that it mightn’t be quite to your taste.)
Unless you’re an utter turnip the point of all this emotive language won’t have passed you by. The pen is mightier than the sword, as they say. It’s no coincidence that Ms Perkins has used the word ’emotional': it’s a common ‘slur’ tossed around by people in power. Get outta here with your operable tear ducts! There’s no room for emotion here. We don’t want an emotional person with access to the nuclear codes.
But my question is: why not? I wouldn’t mind at all if my Prime Minister cared enough to cry when something really fucking awful happened. I wouldn’t lose respect for him or her: I’d think, wow, that’s rare and brave and it makes you more like me. Now I can (kind of) relate to you. (So long as you’re not Tory.)
And why don’t we all just fess up that we humans can never escape our emotions: a vote for a ‘safe pair of hands’, for instance, is no less driven by emotion than a vote for ‘left-wing’ Jeremy Corbyn. And unless you’re blind you are also, partially, calling upon finely-tuned human instincts that cause you to trust certain faces more than others. (This applies to voices too: for instance, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, I am incapable of believing that anyone with a Scottish accent is right-wing.)
You are a thinking, feeling, sensing human being, and you use all your available senses when electing politicians. And anyone who says different has candy floss for brains as well as hair. Because faces, voices, stances, physiques… we care about these things. They matter.
And, what’s more, it isn’t wrong to care about these things. It’s not about making a Daily Fail judgement of somebody based on a flab roll, or an accidental flash of armpit hair, or the fact they’ve got last season’s shoes on. It’s just that we don’t, and can’t, like everyone equally. (Image the carnage if we did.) We’re drawn to some, repelled by others.
I, for instance, am… well, not quite repelled by but certainly not drawn to former Just for Men model Andy Burnham, whose Ken-doll hair competes with his wet-look eyelashes for the thing I like least about his face. His bio on the Labour site informs me that he’s ‘passionate about football and music’, which is cleverly vague and inoffensive (and leads me to the rank hypocrisy that it’s fine for grown men to cry about a fucking football team) and shows a spectacular lack of balls: people who fail to specify the sort of music they like are rarely, I’ve found, remotely passionate about it. Had he written: ‘I’m Andy, and I regularly head-bang to Napalm Death’ I’d have given his balls some applause, you see, because basically what that’s saying is: ‘I’m Andy, and I am genuine. I am who I am. Vote for me if you like me. Don’t if you don’t.’
The thing about Corbyn is that I like his face. Look at it. Go on.
Even with that blood-soaked backdrop the Guardian have given him, he still looks kind. You can see it, can’t you? In his eyes. Very kind, and a little bit pained.
And I’m really not being facetious: this stuff matters. Years ago, when I lived in Manchester, a woman in a taxi queue needed the toilet once. So she went off and left me guarding her seven bags of expensive shopping. You’d be amazed what people tell me within five minutes of meeting me. It seems I have one of those faces. I’m trusted on sight. Just yesterday, at the UEA, I was asked, by a complete stranger, to take a small child to the toilet. If I wasn’t actually trustworthy, I might have made millions as a drugs mule by now (although, actually, as I write this, I’m reminded of being stopped and searched on a NYE’s journey to Paris because of some Vitamin C tablets so… scratch that).
I’m uncertain about Yvette Cooper, and that in itself is a worry. She’s pretty, I think (although, don’t get me wrong, she’s no Leanne Wood): like a cross between a chipmunk and a pixie. A chixie, you might say. But she’s got that head-girlish, trying-too-hard sort of vibe going on that I simply don’t like.
As for Liz Kendall… is she actually a politician? She’s not a sitcom character pretending to be a politician? She’s not an Apprentice candidate who took a wrong turn, one day, in a BBC corridor and ended up on Newsnight? I just can’t make my brain understand her existence. Her face is round and pointy both at once. She looks like the one in the office who won’t do the tea run because she’s secretly more important than everyone else. You just know this is what she says to herself in the mirror each morning:
Another thing Liz says is this: ‘My politics are inseparable from the party and country I love.’
Eh? That’s so inscrutable, Katy Perry could’ve tweeted it.
Here’s Liz-ism 2: ‘Making a contribution and playing by the rules is the bedrock of a decent society.’ Um, no it isn’t. I think Corbyn’s assertion that, ‘you can’t build a fair economy by casting people aside’ is closer to the truth. I’ve worked with Liz Kendalls before – there were several on the trading floor at Morgan Stanley, where I temped for one hideous month of my life – and they simply can’t compute the fact that other people are not them. If they can claw their way out of poverty, if they can manage four kids and a full-time career, if they would rather French kiss Richard Littlejohn than take a day off sick, then why can’t everyone else? She might as well go the full Nicola Murray and promise to ‘inspire’ people out of poverty.
So my issue is this: I kind of like campaigning and I’d kind of like to carry on, when our efforts to save my daughter’s school from the grabby hands of the Inspiration Trust reach their eventual conclusion. My gobbiness needs an outlet. I don’t want to sit on the sidelines, the way I did before, saying, ‘this should be different and that should be different’ and never shift an actual finger to make anything different. People who do that annoy me now. I don’t want to be one of them. I need a cause, I think. And a Labour party run by Corbyn is a cause I could possibly (probably) get behind.
So should I join, and vote for Corbyn? Or not join, because the leadership race is three quarters full of people I wouldn’t leave my shopping with if I needed a wee in a taxi queue?
Answers on a postcard, please.