Today it became clear why Corbyn is a lousy politician. He’s too interesting. The variety of life is simply too fascinating for him to prosper on the public stage. In a word, he’s not dull enough to be a statesman. A key attribute of leadership is the readiness to bore oneself, and everyone else, by repeating the same phrase over and over again. Successful politicians are happy to recite their favourite soundbites day in day out knowing that only at the thousandth repetition will the vital syllables grind their way into the public consciousness. Mr Corbyn has a great soundbite — shambolic Tory Brexit — which he needs to reiterate all the time. His advisers have no doubt nagged him about this.
He should say it when he wakes up and when he falls asleep. ‘Shambolic Tory Brexit’. He should say in his dreams and in his nightmares. ‘Shambolic Tory Brexit.’ When he greets the postman or orders his lunch. ‘Shambolic Tory Brexit’. At party meetings he should sing it to the tune of ‘The Internationale’ and on New Year’s Eve to the tune of ‘Auld Lang Syne’. (It fits the latter rather well). And when he summons his wife to bed with that special look in his eyes. ‘Shambolic Tory Brexit’.
But Mr Corbyn refuses to do so. At PMQs, today, he might have bashed it out at least 15 times. He managed it once.
Mrs May by contrast is a world-class bore. Her favourite soundbites are particularly admired by Westminster-watchers because they’re classified as ‘obfuscations’. An obfuscation, by the way, is itself an obfuscation whose true meaning is lie. When Corbyn asked her to rehearse her Brexit negotiations in public, with him playing the role of Brussels, she declined. ‘I’ve been very clear,’ she said ten times over, meaning, ‘I’m telling you nothing.’
Russia featured heavily in today’s session. Angus Robertson, (who writes a private diary entitled ‘Things to do when I’m Secretary-General’) asked about peace hopes in Syria. Mrs May liked the sound of this and revealed that she’d floated the issue at a recent EU summit. She had even encouraged Brussels to make a declaration of principle. Here it is. ‘Should atrocities continue we will look at all available options to put pressure on Russia to stop bombing civilians.’ That’ll shake the Kremlin to its roots. ‘All available options’ are being ‘looked at’ by a lot of pompous EU half-wits. The Kremlin, in stark contrast to Brussels, is full of heavily-armed realists who know that the only ‘options’ available to Europe’s weaponless bureaucrats are a) spouting guff and b) passing by-laws. So this thunderous ultimatum from Brussels means, in effect, that if Russia continues to kill Syrians the EU will fly Donald Tusk to Moscow where he’ll give President Putin a leaflet about how to label tinned apricots. Then he’ll make a speech about it. Then he’ll fly back and accept a peace prize.
Angus Robertson has an alternative peace plan which is admittedly rather convoluted and risky. He wants Spain to deny oil to a fully-armed Russian battle-group currently bound for the eastern Mediterranean. President Putin, interpreting this as an act of war, will retaliate against NATO and trigger nuclear Armageddon just before Christmas. The survivors, including Angus Robertson no doubt, will be able to make peace around a campfire in the blasted ruins of Planet Earth some time next summer. Naturally Mr Robertson will complain that the deal is unfair on Scotland.