Labour closes ballot box, opens Pandora's.
Scenes of pandemonium have gripped the country. Four strange men on horseback have appeared over the horizon. Relevant R.E.M. songs are popping up in the news. According to sections of the mainstream press, on Saturday in London it seems members of the Labour Party reacted to election defeat in May by conducting a protracted and bizarre ceremony which culminated in somebody taking a box marked "PANDORA'S: DO NOT OPEN, EVER, IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER. NO, SERIOUSLY", and opening it, to the baying cheers of a raving mob drunk on anarchic fury. Since then, a horde of once-trapped evil spirits have been loosed from their well-deserved shackles and are now free to haunt and terrify the poor innocent folk of Middle England with nightmarish visions of socialism, strikes, and sexagenarians who still keep pens in their shirt pocket.
My Saturday mornings are exciting enough that I tuned in to watch the Labour election result live on TV, and although I saw what actually happened, thanks to the media it's quickly been replaced in my head by an indoctrinated image that's a 50/50 blend of the Ark-Opening scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark and the montage sequence in Ghostbusters when Gozer's minions run amok in New York. In other words, "Jeremy Corbyn is a threat to your family's security". (Michael Fallon's words).
One of the laziest and most apocalyptic words that journalists have been using since Corbyn's enormous victory is to call it an "earthquake." Is it, though? Earthquakes are completely unpredictable sudden events which cause massive damage to geology and often to life. On the other hand, Corbyn's win has been inevitable for months, it's the only thing that opinion polls seem to have got right all year, and so far it's resulted in nothing more than a group of Labour moderates and people we've never heard of (Jamie Reed, anyone?) saying they disagree with his radical stance. The Corbyn Moment hasn't even begun to trouble the Richter scale, at least not yet.
I think there's a much better metaphor for Labour's definitely exciting, maybe daft, change of direction, and it resides in another tale from the annals of Indiana Jones. During Indy's climactic escape from the Temple of Doom the intrepid archaeologist instinctively strikes the points on the minecart track. He had a 50/50 chance of making the right choice and taking his comrades straight to safety. In the event he, Willie and Short-Round end up following what could charitably described as the scenic route, and they barely make it out alive. In the Labour Party version, right now Indiana Corbyn has only just swung his shovel, and neither they nor we know whether he's heading for the promised land or oblivion. By the way, there's something for everyone in this metaphor. If you're part of Jezza's multitude, you'll be pleased to know that the best course of action in the Temple of Doom is to choose the path which swings off to the left. If you're scared by Corbynmania, you'll have your fears confirmed by the fact that the dangerous route is the one which glows ominously red.
On the subject of comparing British politics to Indiana Jones, a word must be reserved for Michael Gove MP. He's the man who was so loathed as Education Secretary that before the election his old chum David Cameron sacked him to keep him out of the media spotlight, before promoting him again afterwards with the juicy job of Justice Secretary. He's also a former Times journalist (hence Murdoch cheerleader), a former child actor (precocious, moi?) and a dead ringer for the Gestapo dude Toht out of Raiders of the Lost Ark:
I'm not mentioning Mr Gove here just because he looks like a scary Nazi, although that's a damn good reason. I'm bringing him up because on Sunday he appeared on The Andrew Marr Show (BBC1) and issued entirely predictable warnings about Labour's threat to the country. Far more interestingly, he seemed to make a complete pig's ear of explaining the legality of the UK's recent drone strike on a British jihadi in Syria. Let's take a look at the evidence.
So Mr Gove states the following facts:
- He's absolutely sure the drone strikes were completely legal.
- He admits he hasn't actually seen the evidence to prove this.
- He doesn't know whether the UK notified the UN, as mandated under Article 51.
- He repeats that he hasn't seen the relevant intelligence
That seems a pretty cast-iron case. Thank goodness we've got this kind of forensic analysis at the top of government, and not some Commie dinosaur who's walking a tightrope of being one leaky pen away from a ruined shirt and irredeemable press mockery. But how did you react when you watched Mr Gove's performance? I think I can hazard a guess: