Some years ago, when I was Clinical Tutor at Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup, one of our new pre-registration housemen (just qualified) was struggling badly. Clinically he was finding things difficult and the nurses often could not contact him. His consultant came to see me (Clinical Tutors were responsible for PRHOs). We agreed that one of the more experienced trainees, who was between jobs, should shadow him for a fortnight.
At the end of that time we met again. My colleague asked the shadower for their opinion. They were originally from Europe, and had picked up their English in the course of a six month post.
“He is very nice man. Very nice. But at medicine, absolutely f*****g useless”.
Which brings me to politics. I lean to the right, so might be expected to be dancing with glee at the Labour Party’s current woes, with a defiant, but supposedly decent, Jeremy Corbyn refusing to step down despite to all intents and purposes being the most useless Labour Party leader in living memory. And given history that’s pretty useless. Michael Foot’s donkey jacket and Miliband’s Stone of Promises are nothing compared to the debacle of Corbyn. He would even fail in Venezuela. It takes some doing to hit the main banner headline when the convulsions within the Conservative Party are as they are, but maybe the media got it right, deserting Angela Eagle’s launch speech en masse as the news came through that Theresa May was a shoo-in for the new leader. Maybe Labour is an irrelevance.
What is required to be a party leader? It would appear in today’s Labour Party to be simply a vote from those who have an ideological viewpoint, but yet have no knowledge of the individual who is proposed. Oh – and the support of the underworld, aka the unions. But these creatures should weigh up the pros and cons. To be an effective leader of her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition requires an ability to orate, the ability to score points in debate, the ability to develop relevant policy and an ability to communicate with the public through the media. Corbyn has none of these. He stumbles at the despatch box, cannot win at Prime Minister’s Questions, parrots old-fashioned and discredited Marxist dogma and is positively rude to journalists. His performance during the Brexit crisis was execrable. He has never held any ministerial brief or shadow ministerial post so is uniquely unqualified to manage government. He looks untidy. He doesn’t appear to be interested in what he is saying. He has lost the support of the vast majority of his MPs, who have had plenty of opportunity to weigh his attributes in the balance and yet find him wanting. His shadow cabinet has deserted him and he is reduced to getting 81-year-olds to fill gaps. To disinterested (though not uninterested) members of the public he is a shambling incompetent. It is an embarrassment. OK, he opposed the Iraq war but it’s no use being decent if you cannot perform. But yet he hangs on, claiming he has been “democratically” elected by the party-at-large, despite a large number of those being new £3-a-head opportunists, of course propped up by the union block votes.
What part of the word useless does he not understand?
You can see why I am reminded of my problem with the trainee. But given the shadowy, almost sinister presence of Seumas Milne I am likewise reminded of the useless Tsar Nicholas and the evil Rasputin. What any government needs is an opposition that can oppose. And that requires an effective leader who is not Mr Nice-but-dim.
All change, please! All change!