EVEN by Jeremy Corbyn’s standards, yesterday’s letter to other party leaders must rank as one of his most transparently cynical ploys yet.
The Labour leader demanded that their “priority” should be to put him into No10 as a “strictly time- limited temporary” Prime Minister, to postpone Brexit and call an election.
But Mr Corbyn’s “plan” unravelled as soon as it was unveiled, with new Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson ruling out — as she has many times before — any possibility of working with him.
CRASH AND BURN
Whatever one thinks of the Lib Dems’ stance on Brexit, the party is genuinely mainstream, with mainstream MPs and a mainstream leader.
So it should surprise no one that the Lib Dems are not willing to countenance putting a man many consider to be a racist, socialist revolutionary into power, even for a day and even to stop Brexit.
But their rejection will not have surprised Mr Corbyn or his allies in any way because they knew full well that his letter would crash and burn the moment it was made public.
Indeed, that is precisely why they sent it. Not for a moment did they envisage having to act on it.
Had he not been elected leader, the few people to have been aware of his existence would have known him as a minor fringe MP who hung out with terrorists and racistsStephen Pollard on Jeremy Corbyn's career as an MP
The letter was — like almost everything Mr Corbyn has ever said or done — about posturing rather than acting. The Labour leader spent 32 years as a backbencher before his elevation to being Leader of the Opposition.
During those three decades he achieved precisely nothing.
Had he not been elected leader, the few people to have been aware of his existence would have known him as a minor fringe MP who hung out with terrorists and racists.
The sum total of his contribution to politics as a backbencher was to have proposed 790 Early Day Motions, the parliamentary equivalent of tweeting.
Topics which he considered worth his time included “seal genitalia”, “Disney children’s pyjamas” and an MI5 proposal to use pigeons as flying bombs.
Mr Corbyn’s natural disposition is to tear down, to criticise and to oppose.
He could not even bring himself to support his own party when it was in power, voting against the last Labour government 428 times.
There is not a single piece of legislation that owes anything to his contribution.
This is the context in which his and Labour’s seemingly incoherent stance on Brexit — one day against another referendum, another day for one; one day for Brexit, another day for Remain — must be seen.
He is uninterested in the mechanics of a concrete solution. He has no real views on the details of Brexit or even how we get there.
For Mr Corbyn, Brexit is a means to an end — which is as a vehicle to power.
That is why, for example, he has on 31 occasions instructed Labour MPs either to abstain or to vote with the Government on Brexit, rather than attempting in any serious way to force the Government to change course, either over the type or Brexit on offer or a second referendum.
He wants Brexit.
He and his coterie of revolutionary socialists believe that leaving without a deal will be chaotic and that in that chaos Labour will be swept into office.
But that, by definition, requires Brexit both to happen and to be chaotic.
Most of his party take a different view — most are Remainers — so every so often the Corbynites view it as tactically wise to offer the appearance of wanting to work against the Government’s version of Brexit.
Hence yesterday’s letter. But it is all meaningless posing. In her speech yesterday rejecting Mr Corbyn’s demand that she support him as PM, Jo Swinson hit the nail on the head.
She said: “In my first week as leader of the Liberal Democrats I called on Jeremy Corbyn to table a vote of no confidence in the Government and I asked him to table it before summer recess, because that was the only way to be sure we could hold an election before crashing out on the 31st of October.”
You do not have to share Ms Swinson’s opposition to Brexit to accept that her analysis is spot on.
RIDING TWO HORSES
Mr Corbyn refused to table such a vote of no confidence at the end of July. Had he actually wanted to avoid No Deal, he would have done.
There was every chance Boris Johnson’s new government would have lost and we would now be in the middle of an election campaign.
Whatever the outcome of that election, we would not — as we are now — be spending time analysing the prospects of a so-called government of national unity or looking at cynical letters written by the Labour leader.
Mr Corbyn and his allies doubtless think they are being extremely clever, riding two horses at the same time.
But his problem is that every time he opens his mouth, the unsuitability for office becomes ever clearer.