It was Enoch Powell, for many years Tory MP for the Wolverhampton South West constituency, who concluded that “all political careers end in failure”. His own, as a result of his infamous “Rivers of blood” speech, for which Sailor Heath sacked him from the Tory front bench, was a case in point, with one of his last acts before heading off to Northern Ireland being a call for voters to support Labour in the February 1974 elections.
Ian Austin proves one adage right ...
Today, the spirit of Enoch Powell has returned in the shape of another, and rather lesser, political failure: Ian Austin has been given a platform by the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme to take out his king-sized onion and urge voters not to vote Labour, but instead to back alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.
Supposedly fighting back tears - as if - Austin told listeners “I’m not a Tory, this isn’t where I want to be … I wouldn’t say Boris Johnson is unfit in the way I say that about Jeremy Corbyn … The Labour Party has been poisoned by racism, extremism and intolerance under Corbyn’s leadership”. And there was more. Rather a lot more.
“Lots of traditional Labour voters are going to be grappling with this question … If they have got to face up to that, then I don't think people like me should have the luxury of running away from it … What Jeremy Corbyn has done to the Labour Party, I don't want him to be able to do that to the country”. But this is total bunk.
Austin, as many in the Labour Party know all too well, is a shout artist, a bully boy, an intolerant and dislikable character who is standing down partly because he knows that the electorate he claims to love so much came perilously close to dumping him two years ago in favour of the Tories. While other Labour candidates were increasing their majorities or winning seats from the Tories, he scraped home by just 22 votes.
... like Enoch Powell, he ends up a failure
When he first stood for Dudley North in 2005, his majority had been more than 5,400. And his claims about Corbyn will provoke little more than hollow laughter, given his endorsement of Bozo The Clown, a nailed-on racist whose litany of bigotry is infamous, and three of whose senior MPs (Jacob Rees Mogg, Priti Patel and Michael “Oiky” Gove) have recently indulged in a series of anti-Semitic utterances.
Austin, as Zelo Street regulars will recall, is so inept that he was unable to keep his resignation from Labour secret: he had given the Express and Star the exclusive on the story, but this blog had the news a whole 36 hours earlier.
Worse, Austin has done his best to suggest a rift between Tom Watson and Jeremy Corbyn that clearly does not exist, sniping “Anybody who has spoken to Tom knows what he thinks about Jeremy Corbyn”, while the cordial and indeed warm exchange of letters between the two yesterday shows he is talking out of the back of his neck.
When that resignation came, he claimed “I always tell them the truth”. He does not, but I will: Ian Austin shows that Enoch Powell was right about political careers ending in failure. Unlike Tom Watson, he departs the stage a bitter and spiteful nobody, a hypocrite, a hero only for a fleeting moment, and to the racists he claims to oppose.
Yes, there goes Ian Austin … on his way out.
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