Stuck On The Buses With Jezza and May

Stuck in the 1970s, weakly humorous and generally giving off a sense of Britain falling apart at the seams: there’s little difference between the grayscale, brown-jacketed world of Jeremy Corbyn and that portrayed on almost certainly his teatime TV favourite On The Buses. Both Corbyn and his sitcom equivalent engender this sense of England: a place framed by frayed clothes, weak and watery tea, warm beer, inedible sandwiches, awful puns, garish interior fabrics and constant rain. Jeremy Corbyn deals in the politics of socialist nostalgia, the attic of his mind is a retirement home for the broken ideas and shattered ideals of the old left. Favoured among this kunstkammer of intellectual junk are outmoded and technologically superseded modes of transport. For Corbyn, the bus represents the collective society. It’s knackered, grim and useless. But that’s all just fine to him, because everyone’s stuck in it together…

As Corbyn drove on with his bus-centric PMQs, a note in his voice gave the game away. For the Labour leader it’s not so much about prices, or transport to rural areas. The demographic at issue is age, not class: it’s all about turning back the clock to when the bus was the only option. There’s no space in Jezza’s worldview for that gas-guzzlingly glorious glimpse of individual freedom – the dream of the long and open road – represented by the motor car. Jezza’s anorak-like affection for broken down heaps of junk extends instead only to trains. As well as a bus botherer, he is a trainspotter, a lifelong reader of Rail magazine, a proponent of a ‘people’s railway’. The fantasy is to return to when nothing worked, but predictably so. When Britain was reliably crap, for everyone, all of the time…

If the Tories had guts, they’d challenge Corbyn on his luddite, anti-technological philosophy. His antiquated worldview actually contrasts with the full-automation mindset of his younger supporters – that’s an interesting weakness. His fans are often innovators, albeit in a socialist mold. Instead, Theresa May entered a PMQs time-loop of her own. In what seemed a less assured performance than those of the previous few weeks, she stuttered into a gaffe which set the House roaring:

“”When we leave the UK…” 

The Prime Minister looked down the tabs that adorn her folder – alas, none were marked ‘bus’. She was left without facts with which to parry away Corbyn’s rather specific questions. Instead she fell back on a now often-deployed mantra: a list of various achievements which do not even pretend to be related to the matter at issue. Record employment is always in there. Usually there is a (debatable) factoid about waiting times. One expects to hear “Brexit means Brexit”. Put together in so general a manner that is deployable in any circumstances, this litany is now the PM’s answer of last resort..

Presented with two leaders who so often fail to sparkle, Wednesday lunchtimes have become a dour and awkward sitcom in their own right. One MP texted after PMQs: “I can’t wait to get on the bus to recess…”




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No prizes for guessing who Andrea Leadsom is talking about:

“As you said last week, Mr Speaker, we have a responsibility to safeguard the rights of this House and as Leader of the House I seek to do exactly that, treating all members of parliament with courtesy and respect. I hope and expect all Honourable and Right Honourable members to do likewise.”

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