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Owen Jones must learn to weld

Wednesday, March 1, 2017 8:08
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Although watching the Labour Party disintegrate gives a wonderful pleasure, nothing has really changed. I spent enough of my career attending those dreary trade conferences in bland ‘international’ hotels off the Euston Road to have met an entire cross section of the nation over stewed coffee and rubber chicken. The ones I genuinely enjoyed were those we termed, with real affection, the ‘Northern bastards’. Oblivious to our soft southern conceits they would happily demand of conference executives “I’m parched here, love; be a poppet and fetch me a cup of tea, would you?”. Their night out in London would involve beer and strippers. Even though they were construction managers, they were also local councillors, Labour party officials and at home were as likely to be drinking in their local ‘institute’ than in the golf club. By and large they were humorous, jocund and good value. They were a million miles removed from sensitive souls such as Owen Jones and the fashionable metropolitan left, but in their own way (expressed as “I don’t mind poofs, me” or something similar ) were really quite liberal.

Anyway, for years now Labour has been trying to be a broad enough church to accommodate both the Northern Bastards and the London Poofs. And even though the Northern Bastards were quite good at committees, rules and procedures, the Southern Poofs were good at the media, and won. They immediately demanded that the Northern Bastards dropped ‘pet’ ‘love’ ‘sweetie’ and similar terms of endearment, made their own tea and flew a rainbow flag at the Durham Miners’ gala.  

Even though they’re no longer part of the same coherent party, both sides are still there. The Northern Bastards are still running vast swathes of local councils and the Southern Poofs the London boroughs; they still have a shedload of MPs. The problem is to come. If the Southern Poofs become a sort of rump regional far-left party, the Northern Bastards need a home. And as much as I’d like this to be UKIP, I don’t think this will work. We’re lacking a social democratic white van man and working men’s club party, where wives make the tea and cobs for the meetings.     

My time in the North taught me several surprising things. Everyone north of Leicester, it seems, can weld. Perhaps it was taught in schools, perhaps it’s a dad thing. If Labour is to survive in any form perhaps this is the answer. Little Owen Jones must go to Middlesborough and learn to weld, and in return he can show them how to open Prosecco and eat mussels or something. I can’t think of anything else that would prevent there being two Labour parties.


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