On June 8th, the Labour Party is expected to lose. Its loss, indeed, is all but inevitable. The only thing that is in question is the scale of the defeat.
A great TV series could be made about the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. On his watch, the party has slumped from disaster to disaster; miring itself in endless avoidable controversies and handing the Conservatives an ever-widening lead even as they have endured referendum defeats, resignations, leadership elections and all the uncertainty surrounding the British departure from the European Union.
I have little sympathy for Corbyn, whose economically illiterate leftism and contemptible sympathy for IRA and Islamic extremists would make him unfit for running a town council, never mind a country. Nonetheless, I have a little sympathy. I say that not just because he is a mild eccentric who likes to make jam and photograph drains. I say that because his opposition are insufferable.
By “opposition” I do not mean the Conservatives. I mean his opposition on the left. They talk a big game about “saving Labour” in the aftermath of his defeat but are as bad, or worse, on everything that means that he will lose.
His rebel MPs attack him for being out of touch, uncharismatic and unelectable, yet are the same jokers who thought Owen Smith – remember him? – could lead them to power. They are either as ineffectual as Mr Corbyn or as obnoxious. Why should one be more impressed by Wes Streeting, a combination of Adrian Mole and Pandora Braithwaite, or Jess Phillips, whose astonishing ability to insult her constituents makes Corbyn look like a PR professional. John Mann MP talked up Labour moderates in a column for The Sun and the best that he could say is that Streeting has “film star good looks”, a claim even his mum would think was overstated, and “Phillips sounds like she has walked off the set of Coronation Street”. Phillips comes from Birmingham. Corrie is set in Manchester. Are they all the same, these provinces?
Then there are the self-styled “centrists” of the commentariat: a curious breed, whose overrepresentation among opinion columnists is greater even than that of people with the name Jolyon. The likes of Dan Hodges, Nick Cohen and Oliver Kamm attack Corbyn for being unattractive to the electorate yet their liberal internationalism – with its combination of military adventurism abroad and all-but-open border immigration at home – would make them as appealing to their average voter as a Great British Bake Off remake starring Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding.
As it happens, I would like a functioning opposition. Brexit is, even at best, no kind of panacea, and with the Conservatives stuffed with conmen and careerists it is important that they be held accountable. Corbyn cannot do this but he is not alone. His rivals are quite as preposterously dim.