2 June 2022
Diary of a Corbynista
by Don Urquhart
Here is Sir Keir Starmer characterising the performance of Tory MPs in relation to their leader’s PartyGate behaviour:
They set the bar for his conduct lower than a snake’s belly.
This was quite a colourful metaphor for our LOTO and you had to be impressed. It seems that he must have an American or Australian speechwriter in his camp. According to World Histories the phrase originated in the mid-West often in the form lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut. It migrated to Australia, whence these early examples:
The Express and Telegraph (Adelaide, South Australia) of Thursday 25th June 1914
Policemen were so low that when they died they would have to climb up a ladder to get into hell. They were even lower than a snake’s belly, and that was always under the ground.
The Mirror (Perth, Western Australia) of Saturday 25th January 1930:
“The police are so low that they could crawl under a snake’s belly with an open umbrella and then have something to ‘spare.’”
Much more of this and LOTO will be able to shed the boring label.
Sad to say though there are many Socialists who would be inclined to apply the ophiological phrase to LOTO himself.
Oliver Eagleton’s book The Starmer Project depicts Sir Keir as a clever manipulator without scruple. The bit I am re-reading at the moment covers the period in 2019 when The Tories and Labour were negotiating a bipartisan approach to Brexit. Eagleton has it that Starmer jumped on the People’s Vote (PV) bandwagon as a win-win for him. If Labour won the election Starmer would be the man who promoted PV so his stock would be high. If Labour lost, Starmer would replace Corbyn as leader. He managed to push Corbyn into a corner and none of the leader’s lieutenants were able to stop him. Prime Ministers are usually better than Corbyn at people management. Look at Wilson and Blair. There are no golden rules for getting to be Prime Minister. Principles are optional unfortunately. Anyway I commend the book. For diehard Corbynistas it is a bit of an eye-opener. Back then I was thinking there’s Jeremy along with good old Keir going into negotiations with Mrs May. The term “good faith” was being bandied around all over the place. But the Shadow Brexit Minister had his own agenda.
When I was canvassing in 2019, he turned up in Barnet to give us a hand. Seemed a low-key little bloke to me. Knocked on a couple of doors then sloped off. Another aspect of the canvassing comes into sharper focus. Suddenly hundreds of supporters were turning up under the People’s Vote banner. Some of the old Labour hands were suspicious of this lot. I’ve mentioned Gloria before. She was one of the few Jewish people who didn’t slam the door in my face. She usually voted Labour and was afraid of being ostracised by her “friends” if they thought she had done so on this occasion. She was however a Remainer with strong family reasons for wanting to stay in the EU. I pointed out that our local candidate supported a People’s Vote whereas the Tory was a leading Brexiteer. She was decent enough to tell me that I had not convinced her.
Sir Keir won the Labour leadership by committing to Corbyn’s policy agenda. Then he quickly denounced Corbyn and all his works – vote for me I am not Corbyn. Now it seems the best he has is vote for me I’m not Boris Johnson. Perhaps his marriage proposal to Lady Starmer 15 years ago started Marry me my love for I am not Osama bin Laden. I guess we will never know.