While David Cameron continues to flail around in Brussels, Jeremy Corbyn has set himself up as an unlikely source of sartorial advice…..

Is David Cameron’s European negotiation approaching the end game? This is the question that occupied the commentariat at least for the second half of the week, although this sketch, always tempted to turn down the more rutted and grass-sprouting byways of domestic politics, became distracted rather by Jeremy Corbyn’s entry into the pyjama game. A headmistress in Darlington has written to the parents of her primary school charges asking them to desist from dropping off their children wearing night attire. The children, so far as we can tell, are properly turned out, but it is the mothers and fathers who are arriving in pyjamas, Mickey Mouse slippers and moth-eaten dressing gowns. Most of the parents, it seems, back the headmistress, though a minority have reacted by calling her a whore and a failed fat supermodel, thus providing important insight into the mores of the working class demographic with which Labour must re-engage. Perhaps conscious of this need, Mr Corbyn weighed in, urging parents to be properly dressed when taking their children to school. The Conservative leadership remained silent on the topic though, presumably, one wouldn’t expect nanny to drop off from the four-by-four while wearing her negligee.

Courturial advice from the Islington enclave was a brave tack for Mr Corbyn to take since he has not been universally praised for his own dress sense. Photographs regularly adorn the pages of the Daily Mail and other papers of record of the Labour leader kitted out in either a rumpled, silver shell suit – which makes him look like, at least until you arrive at the head, the late Jimmy Saville – or in shorts, socks and sandals, which makes him look like he cannot find his way into the Liberal Democrat local government conference. Observers, perhaps sensitive to the feminist critique that their sardonic sartorialism is invariably directed towards women politicians, notice that he seems not to have changed his outfit for prime minister’s questions since he first started starring at the gig four months ago. This may be true: he has also not changed his tack and his habit of reading out missives from those concerned members of the public who have written to him is starting to cause the Prime Minister less and less distress.

News of Mr Corbyn’s intervention in the Darlington affair coincided with the revelation that, in his younger days, the leftist firebrand would invite his friends into his bedroom to show off his then lover. That the lover was Diane Abbott and that, apparently, she was following Mr Corbyn’s advice and not wearing pyjamas provided a disturbing insight into the antics of the Islington generation. It is a tribute to the resilience of the Marxist-Leninist enclave that it is still around 30 years later, having survived exposure to Ms Abbott wearing nothing except perhaps a copy of Das Kapital strategically positioned to cover her means of production.

The Prime Minister, though unruffled by Mr Corbyn’s forays into opposition, managed to create trouble for himself by using the term “bunch of migrants” to refer to the Leader of the Opposition’s recent meeting with a group of individuals seeking emergency entry into the United Kingdom. Political correctness is a hot airborne contagion that spreads more rapidly than Legionnaires Disease and it was not previously known until this week that “bunch” is a suspect term (this is bad news for those whose regularly deal with keys, bananas or coconuts). Twitter was predictably outraged, though Britain – thus bearing out Mr Cameron’s observation in his last party conference speech – predictably less so. The matter at least provided a fertile battleground between those who considered that the PM had made an unfelicitious tongue-slip and those who saw the manufacture of a faux controversy a deliberate tactic to divert attention from Google’s tax return.  This latter group talked knowingly about a “dead cat strategy” which is a charming term of use introduced into the bloodstream of British political discourse by Mr Lynton Crosby, an Australian. Anyway, people were still talking about it by the weekend, which showed if nothing else that the dead cat had legs.

On the matter of Google’s tax return itself, this was presented as a triumph for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, albeit only by himself. Mr Osborne has a remarkable record for saying that he has vanquished the deficit, which he hasn’t, or that he has a coherent plan for revitalising the north of England, which he doesn’t, or that he had screwed the ubiquitous search engine to the floor, which he hadn’t. Once again, Mr Osborne’s prospects of replacing David Cameron seemed to dwindle.

Corbynite policy on the matter remains unclear, although presumably this would involve establishing a nationalised internet search facility which, on the rare occasions when the algorithms weren’t on strike would return eight searches for ‘cat’, seven of them being about dogs. Islington would profess itself ideologically satisfied, albeit culturally frustrated, while the rest of the country would tweet its displeasure. The amount of tax paid by Twitter would remain unremarked upon.

 

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