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Star War images: Jedi Jezza and Stormtrooper Osbo

December 31st, 2015

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The Donald Brind column – from a Labour perspective

An old joke was given fresh legs just before Christmas when George Osborne set out to sprinkle some stardust on his image with an appearance at the premiere of Star Wars.

Q. Why did 4,000 people boo George Osborne? A. Because that’s how many the cinema holds.

In the original version it was the 80,000 capacity of the Olympic stadium that limited the opprobrium heaped on the Chancellor during the 2012 Paralympic games. From Osborne’s point of view this counts as progress – not everyone, it seems, booed him this time round.

But the joke won’t go away. Osborne’s image as a Star Wars villain is well established on the Left.

Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn, who has been likened to a Star Wars Jedi by one of his Shadow cabinet, was doing a bit of image building in a share-my-passion encounter with Olympic hero Bradley Wiggins who was guest editing the Today Programme.  I share this passion – one of my regular bike rides takes me through Bushy Park along the route that Sir Bradley rode in 2012 on his way to gold in the Olympic time trial.

Olympian hero chatting to cycling Labour leader sounded like a great listen. In the event, it was a bit underwhelming. Unlike sport, politics ‘wasn’t about winning’ said Corbyn. In sport “the reality is you are in it to win. Politics is different. I am not that competitive a person in that sense. I am much more a community co-operative kind of person.”

He didn’t expect to be Labour leader but was doing his best. Could he become Prime Minister? asked Wiggins Mr Corbyn said: “Yes we could. The opportunity is then to actually seriously unlock the potential in young people particularly. To do something about balancing our society, improve housing. Be a force for human rights.”
I found it terribly flat and uninspiring. I want a Labour leader with passion and desperation to be in power.

So maybe I should be happy at the thought that Corbyn will assert his authority and show his steel with a “revenge reshuffle” of his front bench team. It would certainly be at odds with his nice guy image, according to one of the potential casualties Shadow Culture Secretary Michael Dugher.

In the New Statesman Dugher likens his leader to a Star Wars Jedi. He says “the idea that Jeremy Corbyn is a person motivated by ‘revenge’ is something that I don’t recognise for a single second”, adding: “Revenge is not very Jedi. It’s also not very new politics.”

He said reshuffle talk tended to drown out Labour attacks on the government or the positive things Labour would do differently in government.

There’s a bigger danger for Corbyn in my view. The reshuffle is aimed at bolstering his authority. It is more likely to make him look weaker – and therefore less effective as Leader of the Opposition.

Donald Brind