Among the ranks of reliably small-e Establishment pundits, many of them equally reliably right-wing, who fetch up with tedious regularity on panel discussions, a few have until now stood out as being moderately interesting and sensible. On the right, that means the likes of Isabel Hardman and not many others; on the left, apart from the dogged presence of Owen Jones, there have been voices like that of Ayesha Hazarika.
Ms H has at least been prepared to talk about Labour and its policy offerings without the coating of dismissiveness and derision doled out by many of her peers; this has been a refreshing change when the likes of Fraser Nelson, Isabel Oakeshott, and the appalling Julia Hartley Dooda are given so many broadcast media opportunities.
But sadly she has allowed herself to get carried away in her knee-jerk defence of Labour leadership hopeful Jess Phillips. Ms Phillips, in whose defence I posted recently, has now declared her candidacy and to that end secured an interview on The Andy Marr Show™ this morning. Ms Hazarika wanted the world to know that she also knew Jess.
“I’m excited that the brilliant [Jess Phillips] is running. I interviewed her for [BBC Newsnight] years ago & she said she would love to be leader. Good for her for going for it. She’s fearless, funny, warm & has HUGE charisma. Lots of folk joining to support her. Will be interesting!”. I don’t go with the “HUGE charisma”, but each to their own.
But then came objections to Ms Phillips’ candidacy, and Ms H went totally OTT: “Anti-Semitic cranks attacking [Jess Phillips] & threatening to leave Labour if she wins is brilliant. Thank God decent people like her stayed to fight for the soul of the party. This is now a proper battle with good people putting themselves forward to break from the past”. Why is someone who disagrees with her an “Anti-Semitic crank”?
Whatever. She was by now on to sniping at Labour’s current leader. “There is something so very tragic about this letter. Sums up the futility of where we are right now” she responded to Jeremy Corbyn’s concern at the potential for escalation in the Middle East.
Which is a serious business. If she thinks it is “tragic” and “futile” to seek peace in a war-torn powder keg like the Middle East, then she needs to give her head a shake. But she was already on to deciding who should be an acceptable Jezza successor. “Along with [Jess Phillips], [Keir Starmer], [Lisa Nandy] & [Dan Jarvis](if he stands) are all smart, decent, thoughtful politicians who can start to right the wrongs of the last few years & begin the tough process of making us seem even remotely attractive to the public again”.
Royal “we”, is it? This moderate intermission ended with more gratuitous attacks on those taking a different view. “You’re SO right weirdo anonymous account. If you want a say on who’s the next Labour leader, join the party”. Abuse as well. And again: “I’m sure your disapproval will be nothing but a boost for [Jess Phillips] Go for it righteous anonymous account. Tell us all your issues with a moderate outspoken brave woman. Let’s hear it!”
The all-knowing Ms Azareka then added “Temptation is to pivot too far one way which of course RLB/Lavery will do if they run”. How the heck does she know what Becky Long Bailey would advocate? She might be A Very important Media Person, but only gets one vote in the Labour leadership contest. Democracy is a great leveller.
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