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Jeremy Corbyn: Team GB's "Eddie the Eagle"? (RWendland CC BY-SA 4.0)


The Labour Party is dead; long live the Labour Party.

But in what form? What will it stand for? “In my day,” said a character in my late husband Jack Rosenthal’s 1976 teleplay Bar Mitzvah Boy, “they gave you your Labour Party badge the minute you were circumcised. Gave you with one hand, took away with the other.”

Back then, how could you be northern, Jewish, working-class — and not be a socialist? In the mid-Eighties, my uncle, Louis Pearlman, was the Labour Lord Mayor of Hull. Once, in the tiny toilet of a Hull-bound train, I transformed myself into an immaculately dressed and bewigged Margaret Thatcher, just so I could see his face fill with fear at Paragon Station. I marched against the Industrial Relations Bill with a six-foot placard; I stood on a hustings with Mr Kinnock and posed at Downing Street with the rest of the Labour luvvies. My voting history is rosy red.

True, I helped to fatally satirise Ed Miliband with my contributions to this magazine, but I thought I was only amusing myself and my readers. I never suspected it would “go viral”. When my children informed me, I didn’t even know what that expression meant. (Virol was a malty substance my mother spooned daily into my underweight body, which probably accounts for my being a size 14 today.) My socialist friends disowned me, however, as though I’d felled Ed singlehandedly in a sort of Olympian Jewdo throw.

Now I suppose I’m on the hated “unreconstituted Blairite” list. Fair do’s, Blair did win us the election three times. In his first year of office, he countered foot-and-mouth disease, BSE, severe flooding and the death of Princess Diana with grace and gravitas. He and Mo Mowlam brought about the unthinkable — peace between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. And yes, along with some of us and most of Parliament, he believed that a world without Saddam Hussein would be a better one. Sorry about that. We didn’t understand that Shia versus Sunni was a hundred times more unthinkable.

Uncertainty has become the only certainty. Great Britain is Brexiting and how great can we ever be again? Acts of terror and global suffering punctuate the headlines, and a Day-Glo psychotic may soon have his pinky on the big red button. We’re reminded by the mindful that we must live in the Now, but the Now is happening too fast for my mind. And the future frighteningly recalls the past.

So what new kind of displacement activity was going on as I found myself, on holiday in Anglesey, in front of the telly, in the capable hands of Clare Balding? At the time of writing, GB were second in the Olympic medal table. After the US and before China. It can’t just be that we threw some money at our usual lacklustre performance. It has to be alchemy. 

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Roger Fox
September 5th, 2016
10:09 AM
Maureen Lipman writes a lament on the direction of the Labour Party and its ambivalence towards those who express anti semitic views. This behaviour must be especially hurtful for those in the Jewish community who historically found a political home which had close links with the Israeli Labour Party, and was also a means of expressing their commitment to Israel. However, there is a lesson for everyone who becomes politically active. Like many human organisations political parties can change through time and may disappoint their loyal and committed supporters. One can only remain true to one's values and display the integrity which others may lack. Unfortunately the present day Labour Party has also abandoned those standards of behaviour which one expects in public life and has descended into the use of offensive and loutish abuse. Whether the more decent members who have remained with the Party can pull things around remains to be seen.

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