British politics today is like wrestling, and I’m not talking about that fake American stuff, I’m talking about real (and it was absolutely real) wrestling, proper British wrestling (circa the late 1970’s early 1980’s), when it was televised on ITV World of Sport on a Saturday afternoon.
Curtains would be drawn at 4pm every Saturday across the country and millions of families would gather around Battenberg and tea waiting for the TV to warm up. The badger of broadcasting – Dickie Davies would welcome us to wonderful sporting arenas such as West Ham Baths, Hull Superbowl, and the Pavilion Ballrooms at Bournemouth.
There was no better Tag-Team at the time than Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks, and at their peak they could pack out Leeds Town Hall (can you imagine!)
There were others in the mix as well: Mick McManus, Jackie Pallo, and the masked Kendo Nagasaki (who had powers of hypnotism and was called Peter Thornley in real life) but when Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks fell out and became enemies, their Tag-Team fights were the ones to watch out for.
British politics today is basically a Daddy/Haystacks Tag-Team wrestling match from the 80’s.
For this analogy to work you’ll have to imagine that the Sun/Daily Mail reading public are the referee of this wrestling match, and we (that is you and I and those that don’t read the Daily Mail or the Sun, or at least look for a more balanced view of the reporting of politics in the country) are the audience.
The late great Ken Walton provides the commentary, we are at the Cleethorpes Hippodrome.
In the red corner we have Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Jones. Hardly a paring you’d want to bet any money on in a wrestling match, I agree, but let’s just go with it for now.
Aaaaaannd in the blue corner, we have David Cameron and (oh I don’t know, half the Labour party, all of the Tories, the Daily Mail, the Sun?) let’s put Rupert Murdoch (AKA the ruiner of Rugby League) in there with him as a suitable representative of all of the above.
The audience in the Cleethorpes Hippodrome are quiet, at home we adjust our curtains, and nervously nibble the marzipan from around our cake. We are all waiting for a great fight.
After a few moments of cursory to-ing and fro-ing Dave catches Jeremy unawares with his patented Bullingdon belly bounce, Jeremy tries a half-nelson for the sixth time, but doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere.
They circle each other in soundbites, bouncing off the ropes trying to find an angle of attack:Trident, God Save the Queen, refugees, tax exiles, benefits cuts, living wage, privatisation, Big Society.
Posh booing sounds come from the front benches.
We watch in silence, Rupert Murdock and Owen Jones shout instructions into the ring.
Dave manages an attack that sends Jeremy up against the ropes in the blue corner.
Dave then follows this with a Boris Bash and barges his big rubber head into Jeremy as if he were a Japanese schoolboy.
Murdoch starts bashing Jeremy from over the ropes.
BOOOOOO shout the crowd (because this is an illegal situation), the referee intervenes, and drags them apart, wagging his finger at Murdoch and Cameron. Murdoch mumbles a page 23 kind of apology under his breath before awkwardly slapping flippers with Dave to swap places.
Jeremy is staggering around a bit stunned and disheveled in the middle of the ring, he wasn’t even supposed to be here, it was meant to be Harriet Harmon.
Murdoch approaches and cleverly manages to manipulate Jeremy into the blue corner by discussing with him their joint experiences of a small organic coffee van near Wapping.
Dave (behind the ropes) grabs hold of Jeremy (illegally) so that Rupert can pummel him with slow old man’s punches.
BOOOOOO call the crowd, the referee is unsighted, he doesn’t see the miscarriage of justice occurring literally before his own eyes.
BOOOOOO shout the crowd even louder, at home we are screaming at the television, tea is spilled, chairs are evacuated. We shout at the referee:
“Can you not see what is happening, this is unfair, this is ridiculous?”
Corbin manages to break free, he’s on the floor, but Jones his tag team partner is already over the ropes, he’s coming in support.
They tap hands, but the referee disallows it (he’s following the rules after all, you can’t tag in the ring) Jones manages to slap Murdoch soundly around the face (the whole of Featherstone approves) but the referee doesn’t, and escorts Jones (slowly) back to his corner. Jones protests.
Meanwhile whilst the referee’s back is turned, (and this is where Tag-Team wrestling gets exciting) Murdock and Cameron lay into poor old Jeremy with boots and fists and rubber heads and lies and basically everything they have got.
We scream at the referee to turn around, he doesn’t, he’s dealing with Jones, he doesn’t see what is happening behind him.
But we can see what is happening, why can’t the referee just turn around and see the injustice of it all?
As a bloodied Jeremy crawls across the floor, arm outstretched to tag Jones, Murdoch starts to climb up the ropes (slowly), preparing for a leap from the top to finish him off.
Cameron and all the people in the expensive front row seats cheer….
Inches away from the tap, Corbyn manages to haul himself up and nods at Jones to indicate what he must do….
Does Jones see the nod as an indication of defeat, or a suggestion he should lean further into the ring to take the tag? What does this nod mean?
The referee, oblivious to all this and unsurprised by the state of Corbyn turns back to the action and waves play on.
Murdoch reaches the top of the ropes….
<To be continued>