This column isn’t going to win me any friends on the left but it’s about time Labour got serious about how bad the election result were. We lost. We seriously didn’t win and we need to face facts and admit that to ourselves. I’m so sick of my deluded left wing Labour friends playing down our loss saying “Was it that bad?” or “hey, a loss is just a win up side down” or “It doesn’t matter Martin Freeman still likes us”. Come one guys? Really?
Also, why is no one is willing to admit just how bad the defeat was? Well I will; it was really bad. I know you think you know how bad it is but believe me, you don’t. I do. Imagine, a really depressed teenager’s bedroom, now picture what you’d find under their bed. Now imagine they haven’t even been home for a week. Now imagine the teenager actually died twenty years ago and its a ghost teenager’s bedroom. That is Labour’s current chances at the next election. Last night my mother said to me “Grainne, I just worry about you. You just seem to be drifting and you don’t seem to have any real anchor in your life” and I said “Yeah well at least it’s not as bad as the current state of the Labour party”. And you know why my mother started crying? Because she knew I was right.
I know I’m just saying this now but I actually knew all along that Labour was doomed. It’s no exaggeration to say that our election campaign under Ed Miliband was a bigger disaster for the party than the war in Iraq. You may not like to admit it but until the party learns to accept it we will never be a credible party of power. Ed Miliband was such a terrible leader that Scotland voted for the SNP just to get further away from his face. People voted for UKIP not because they were worried about the increasing power of a federal Europe, but because Ed Milibands parents were immigrants and they knew it would hurt his feelings. We need as a party to face up to this.
The Labour party ignored Middle England We had nothing to say to people who didn’t need food banks. Millions of people were thinking, hang on a sec; none of those things affect me personally so why should I give a shit? We need to say, it’s OK to only care about things that affect you. We have to be the party of that too.
We have to be the party of aspiration. We need to be able to reach out to people and say, we get it, we speak your language. Fingers crossed you’ll win X Factor. We need to be the party that tells the electorate some day they’ll be too special to ever use a public service ever again. Prince Harry is still single, so that’s at least 50% of the public that could one day be an actual princess. Why wasn’t that in our manifesto?
We need to apologize and admit to our mistakes. Gordon Brown’s over spending caused the collapse of the American Sub Prime market. We all saw Wolf of Wall Street and that famous scene where Leonardo DiCaprio coked out of his head, built all those NHS hospitals. Its important for Labour to admit the banking crisis happened on our watch. As did the breakdown of Madonna and Guy Ritchie’s marriage and Twilight became a thing. The next leader of the Labour party will not be respected until the party takes full responsibility for all those things.
We need to start a debate within the party. We need to start saying things we don’t feel comfortable with, like privatization isn’t all bad, maybe free schools work, does everyone “need” an inside toilet?
Tony Blair won elections. Why? Because it was the 90s and everyone was happier then. Should we canvas in adidas tracksuit bottoms while Oasis plays in the background? Maybe. Will it get us votes? That’s what we need to ask ourselves. If we only represent Labour values what the hell is the Labour party about? We need to attract people who hate unions, who don’t like poor people, who don’t believe in democratic socialism, we need to be the party for them too. There needs to be no “no go” areas. We need Tory voters. How about we change our name to the Conservative Party but just spell it slightly differently so voters get confused on the ballot box? Will it get us votes? Then this needs to be something we as a party consider.
We aren’t going to win people over with facts and figures, facts and figures are for libraries and no one elects libraries. We need to stop worrying about being right all the time. You know who was right all the time? Helen Daniels from Neighbours and she died in her sleep on a couch, she didn’t win elections.
So what should we do? The only way we’ll regain credibility is if we have a leader willing to make tough choices. We need to elect someone willing to move the party from it’s comfort zone by being tough on welfare, having the strength to back cuts, maybe push an elderly miner down a well on Good Morning Britain. We will not be trusted on the economy unless we elect someone willing to punch an immigrant toddler dressed as Aneurin Bevan live on Newsnight. Sure, invite Union members to conference in September but only if the shadow cabinet agrees to collectively moon them on stage.
We need to deal with difficult truths and have a serious discussion. Labour Party needs to listen to the UNCOMFORTABLE facts that it NEEDS to hear. Lets face facts, unless we make these changes, Tony Blair will not bless our harvests, our milk will curdle and animals shall eat their young. That’s just the truth, sorry for just saying it like it is.
This is my latest blog for The Independent. I wrote it just after seeing Les Mis, which might explain it’s somewhat radical tone…spot the George Orwell “Animal Farm” reference for extra revolutionary points!
I miss when life was simpler. Comedians were the idealistic losers and business men the bullies in sharp suits. Now, with a financial website encouraging struggling corporations to learn from the world of stand up and a BBC documentary detailing the huge amounts of money comedians can make in corporate bookings, things aren’t so simple. Increasingly, instead of sticking it to the man, comedy is charging it to him instead.
Who can blame big business for trying to take a leaf from comedies notebook? In a climate of collapsing high street chains and stuttering growth, it’s the one industry that seems to be doing well. It also reflects how companies are trying to rebrand themselves; they don’t just want our money anymore, they want our love.
In our public consciousness, the ultimate alpha: the ruthless businessman has been replaced by well meaning good guys in fleeces. Multinationals seem desperate not to be taken seriously; the cheeky loan ads that encourage borrowing on a whim, the matey messages on chain store sandwich wrappers, the banks offering pictures of your dog on your visa cards, presumably to put a brief smile on your face before it’s declined. They’re all designed to do the same thing, make us relax; convince us everything is fine, that they’re on our side. In Goodfellas Joe Pesci, shot a waiter for suggesting he was funny, today he’d probably hire him as a PR. They may not pay corporation tax and they certainly won’t let you visit their factories in China, but have you seen this funny viral they sponsored?
Who can blame comedians either, after years of struggling, from accepting the bone thrown to them from the top table? Anybody seriously thinking that comedy is a quick way to make a fortune is almost endearing in their naivety. It’s like thinking that being an Olympic athlete is an easy way to money because you can melt down your gold medal afterwards. The only way anybody could cope with the scorching rejection, chilling indifference and aching hearts that accompany most comics journeys to success, is a deep obsessive love for the art form itself. While there may be more people getting into comedy, the people who stick at it long enough to actually succeed have to work just as hard, if not more so. The only difference is the way their hard work and talent is being marketed to the public.
Show business has never been able to escape the latter part of its word. The giddy heights of creativity that comedy is capable of can only be reached because it is supported by a steely hearted pyramid scheme. At the bottom are thousands of hopefuls, running new material for barely the cost of their travel home, all investing money, time, hopes and dreams, crossing their fingers and hoping that if they stick at it long enough, they will be one of the privileged few at the top.
The Edinburgh festival is the jewel in the comedy crown but it is also the American subprime mortgage disaster in miniature. Thousands of unknown acts converge on the city every year, spending money they don’t have and betting on what their stock will definitely probably be worth in five years time. Most consider breaking financially even a sign they have hit the big time.
Despite all this, as a comedian I find this merging of two very different worlds deeply unsettling. Stand up should be about challenging power not endorsing it. We are the release valve for a society bombarded with unachievable goals. How can we do that if we are the ones in the ads?
The public is being short-changed if the only comedy it gets is shiny and safe because we do not live in shiny and safe times. It has a right to be angry about what is happening to the world and they deserve comedians willing to storm the barricade with them not cling to safety inside. Comedians happy to join the corporate party to share drinks and tax avoidance tips with the great and good might well live to regret it. After all, when the mob finally press their nose against the glass and look from comedian to businessman and businessman to comedian, they might not being able to tell the difference.