I HAVE to admit I was slightly disappointed with Andrew Neil’s alleged evisceration of Jeremy Corbyn this week. Sure, Neil scored a number of palpable hits and with any luck they’ll prove fatal to Corbyn’s electoral chances. Even so, it all felt slightly bathetic: like watching Al Capone go down not for the St Valentine’s Day Massacre but for tax evasion.
Take anti-Semitism. We all know that Momentum-dominated Labour is rife with it. But instead of a greatest hits tour of Labour’s worst ‘For the many, not the Jew’ moments – Corbyn holding a wreath by the grave of a Black September terrorist and so on – all we got were a couple of examples of dodgy, insinuating utterances from party apparatchiks you’d never heard of and who hadn’t been sacked for them.
Well, fine. Corbyn’s Labour, it’s clear, is not clamping down on anti-Semitism as hard as it should. But this was hardly a gotcha moment. Or rather, it was a red flag only to those of us who already know it’s a red flag. If you’re a Corbyn supporter, I can’t see it will have made a blind bit of difference. It will just have come across like a decent politician who has already made it clear, many, many times, how much he deplores racism in all its forms, being hounded to apologise for something he hasn’t done wrong. (And anyway what about Tory Islamophobia, what about that, eh?)
Ditto when Neil attempted to nail him on his tax and spend policies. We’re talking here about an unreconstructed Marxist loon whose economic paradigm is Chavez’s Venezuela; someone whose plans, if implemented, would reduce Britain to penury, trash our freedoms, kill jobs, wipe out our already fragile public services, ruin the landscape with bat-chomping, bird-slicing eco-crucifixes, salt the earth and poison the wells for generations to come . . . And what were Neil’s best shots? An uncosted £60billion payout to the WASPI women – yes, it’s a lot, but not in the context of, say, the even more pointless and stupidly expensive HS2 which the Tories are still championing. And the cancellation of the Married Couples Tax Allowance which will cost some lower-income households a few hundred quid a year. Again, potentially irksome, yes. But not exactly the killer Armageddon revelation guaranteed to drive a nuclear-tipped stake through the heart of the evil Commie vampire for all eternity.
Could Neil have done any better, though? I’m not sure that he could. He’s by far Britain’s most effective, best prepared and non-partisan political interviewer. But when you’re up against a Marxist, cold facts and implacable logic are like trying to tackle Ebola with homeopathy. That’s because you’re arguing with someone from a parallel dialectical universe where rational laws involving evidence, cause and effect don’t apply.
Everyone is mocking the tweet by Communist blogger Aaron Bastani. The one that said: ‘Jeremy Corbyn looking confident and prime ministerial with Andrew Neil – Britain’s toughest interviewer. This is like a master batsman at the crease.’ But in Commie world – the one that Corbyn, Momentum, Jon Lansman, Stormzy, Lily Allen et al inhabit – this is no more than the unvarnished truth. You’re telling a lie only if you think it’s untrue. They genuinely believe this nonsense – or have persuaded themselves they do – because it fits with their narrative of continuous, inexorable progression towards the goal of fully automated luxury Communism.
This is why criticisms of Labour’s voodoo economics plans carry so little traction, especially with their younger university-‘educated’ supporters. Billions, trillions, badabadazillions – who cares how much it’s going to cost or if it’s Diane Abbott doing the maths? So long as the end goal is noble the means will take care of themselves.
Neil’s most effective technique with Corbyn was to deny him the space he wanted to spout his idealistic guff. Challenged on his WASPI spending plans, Corbyn was furious at being asked impertinently to explain how he was going to fund it; all that mattered (‘and if you’ll stop interrupting, Andrew’) was that he be given a chance to explain why he was doing it. At which point, of course, the decency of his ideals would have become so self-evident as to render attempted costings redundant.
But Neil wouldn’t let him and Corbyn showed his true colours, which was the main victory of the interview. We understood the man better; what we understood was this: ‘Corbyn is bad-tempered because he doesn’t have to persuade us of anything. Everything he says is prima facie good and right – to disagree or fail to fully understand means his interlocutor is either evil or morally retarded. No wonder he gets impatient with us, with our questions and our failure to believe!’ (That, by the way, comes from my Twitter friend – and Sarah Jane Adventures writer! – Gareth Roberts, quoting a ‘clever friend of mine who doesn’t do public politics’.)
It’s why, I think, so many of us will always have difficulty relating to the Corbyn phenomenon. Unless you’ve wasted three years doing Gender Studies, or immersed yourself in the pseudo-intellectual garbage of de Saussure and Lacan and Foucault, it will make no sense at all because, quite literally, it’s about the rejection of logic, truth, rationalism, empiricism, reason and the embrace of a dialectical other.
Which, by the way, is why the Conservatives’ current policy of trying to meet Labour halfway on their environmental, spending and social plans is such a disastrous mistake which will one day come back to bite them horribly by ushering in, if not a Corbyn, then at least a Corbyn-lite. But that’s a horror story for another day . . .