As left as the Cubans
As left as Ceausescu
Born left to follow your heart…
Today, I’d like to take a break from sketching to talk to you about The Critic Autumn Appeal, on behalf of the Born Left Foundation.
We all like to visit a Labour Party conference, marvelling at the magnificent lefties as they stalk the platform, calling for card votes and denouncing the government or each other. But have you ever thought that their roars of anger may really be cries of pain?
We at the Born Left Foundation work to rescue lefties who have been captured and put on display, often forced to perform tricks for the cameras, and get them back to their natural habitat, the conference fringe.
Take “Jeremy”, an elderly male we were recently able to help. For decades, Jeremy had roamed the edges of the Labour Party, happily signing Early Day Motions and mourning the fall of the Berlin Wall. He was no threat to anyone, and wanted only to be allowed to campaign for peace.
Then, in 2015, cruel poachers snatched Jeremy and made him leader of the Labour Party. They tidied his beard, combed his hair, and dressed him in a smart suit, just for the entertainment of television cameras. They made him talk to journalists who weren’t from the Morning Star. In Parliament, Jeremy was forced from his reservation on the far backbenches and put onto the frontbench, where he was told to take a view about Russian assassins. And then it was explained to him that he was going to have to start taking a new view about Russian assassins.
To the thousands of young people who queued to watch Jeremy performing at music festivals, he seemed happy listening to them chant his name. But for those who knew Jeremy best, it was a painful sight. He lost weight. His shell suit disappeared. His speech patterns were affected, with strong messages and clear attempts at structure. We at Born Left knew that Jeremy needed to be freed.
We won’t pretend it was easy. It took a no-confidence vote, a leadership election and two general elections before we were able to rescue Jeremy last year.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. Would Jeremy be able to resume his old life? Would his time in captivity have changed him? Would he still be able to deliver speeches with no clear point, or would the years that his handlers spent trying to make him use an autocue have left him, in the jargon of his party captors, “on message”?
Gone was the black jacket that made him look like a possible prime minister
That’s why I was so moved to watch Jeremy address the Stop The War Coalition in Brighton. Looking for ways to reintegrate him into his natural environment, we at Born Left came up with the idea of getting him suspended from the Labour Whip. Still a Labour member, he can majestically roam conference, but his ejection from the parliamentary party gives him the rebel status he needs to thrive in the wild.
Had it worked? I’m happy to say that the Jeremy I watched on Tuesday seemed well on the road to recovery. Gone was the black jacket that made him look like a possible prime minister. His hair and beard, for so long cruelly trimmed, are growing back to their natural length.
As for his speech, it was as though he had never been caged. He moved effortlessly from discussions of arguments about arms fairs in the 1980s to the Korean War to central America to Palestine to China to McDonald’s to aircraft carriers. His solutions to the world’s problems were once again utopian, unburdened by the possibility that anyone might have to shape them into a policy platform. “Can’t we instead as a movement, have a sense of humanity?” he pleaded.
And when he had run out of points to make, I wish you could have seen, as I did, the standing ovation he received in the quite-well-attended meeting. You too would have wept. As he posed for selfies outside and recorded messages of support for whoever approached him, I thought for a moment that I saw in his eyes the deep wisdom of the freed captive. I know, he seemed to be saying, why the caged Labour leader sings The Red Flag.
There is much work to do. The habitats in the English north and midlands where lefties used to roam are being destroyed, replaced by estates of pleasant houses with newish cars in the drive. Some estimates suggest that we may be down to as few as 20 mating pairs on the backbenches.
But there is hope. Just yesterday, the Lefty Liberation Front discovered by chance that Andy McDonald was in the Shadow Cabinet. In a daring operation, they were able to release him, and he is now being cared for at a secret location.
Please, please, give what you can to support our work.
And life is worth living,
But only worth living,
‘Cause you’re born leeeeeeeefffffftttttt
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