QUENTIN LETTS sees Labour’s leader on TV

24 Apr

They talked of nuclear weapons, killing an Islamist terrorist leader, and the armageddon letters a new prime minister must write to Trident-equipped submarine captains – grim subject matter for the first Sunday after Easter.

Yet the mood on yesterday morning’s Andrew Marr programme was as congenial as a college sociology tutorial.

Jeremy Corbyn sat languidly in his chair, one knee over the other, a donnish expression on his trimmed beard. He seemed thoroughly at ease with the BBC’s Marr, and why not?

On yesterday morning's Andrew Marr programme, Jeremy Corbyn sat languidly in his chair, one knee over the other, a donnish expression on his trimmed beard. He seemed thoroughly at ease

On yesterday morning's Andrew Marr programme, Jeremy Corbyn sat languidly in his chair, one knee over the other, a donnish expression on his trimmed beard. He seemed thoroughly at ease

On yesterday morning’s Andrew Marr programme, Jeremy Corbyn sat languidly in his chair, one knee over the other, a donnish expression on his trimmed beard. He seemed thoroughly at ease

The Labour leader, who in a few short weeks could have his hands on (or off) our nuclear button, prevaricated in the most civilised way. 

He chewed on ‘the issues’ – that Tony Benn word – and looked for compromise and agreement. He said that he would consult the main world leaders, ‘meet ALL of them’, to prevent further bloodshed in Syria.

As for our nuclear defences, well, that was a matter still to be decided by the personnel compiling the Labour election manifesto. We would have to wait until Labour’s internal wrangles had been finalised before he would say if he’d ever authorise our armed forces to retaliate against attack.

Let’s just hope our enemies do not attack a Corbyn-led Britain in the weeks running up to a Labour Party conference, when their policy is still under discussion. Marr presented the Labour leader with various scenarios.

Mr Corbyn said that he would consult the main world leaders, ¿meet ALL of them¿, to prevent further bloodshed in Syria. As for our nuclear defences, well, e would have to wait until Labour¿s internal wrangles had been finalised

Mr Corbyn said that he would consult the main world leaders, ¿meet ALL of them¿, to prevent further bloodshed in Syria. As for our nuclear defences, well, e would have to wait until Labour¿s internal wrangles had been finalised

Mr Corbyn said that he would consult the main world leaders, ‘meet ALL of them’, to prevent further bloodshed in Syria. As for our nuclear defences, well, e would have to wait until Labour’s internal wrangles had been finalised

For instance, what if ‘the spooks’ (he meant MI6 and our intelligence chiefs) arrived at Downing Street and told Prime Minister Corbyn there was a good chance of whacking Islamist terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi with a drone strike. Would he, Corbyn, approve the operation?

‘You wouldn’t call them spooks,’ murmured Mr Corbyn, quite the man of delicate aesthetics when it comes to slang. 

As for the meat of the question about killing al-Baghdadi, he said would ask the security people, ‘what is the objective here?’ 

James Bond and Co may need to accustom themselves to writing university-style essays before taking any emergency action in future. 

Let’s hope that nice Mr Kim or Mr Putin give them time to complete their hypothetical scenarios before we are all blown to smithereens.

Some might say there was an unworldly, surreal tone to this interview – compounded by the repeated flash of pale brown sock from the Corbyn ankle. Yet it was also markedly more composed than some of Mr Corbyn’s early interviews as leader.

Presentationally, he is improving. He has acquired a certain Zen-like calmness, withstood interruptions from Marr well – ‘You’re jumping in too quick Andrew’ – and did not snap as he has done sometimes in the past. I find him quite a lot less irritating than Ed Miliband.

He has started to play along with the TV producers’ demands, doing a gameshow-style smile and facial reaction when his name was mentioned at the top of the programme.

Presentationally, he is improving. He has acquired a certain Zen-like calmness, withstood interruptions from Marr well and did not snap as he has done sometimes in the past

Presentationally, he is improving. He has acquired a certain Zen-like calmness, withstood interruptions from Marr well and did not snap as he has done sometimes in the past

Presentationally, he is improving. He has acquired a certain Zen-like calmness, withstood interruptions from Marr well and did not snap as he has done sometimes in the past

‘No proper socialist has ever been as close to No 10 as Mr Corbyn is this morning,’ said Marr. Was Gordon Brown not a ‘proper socialist’? Ted Heath? David Cameron?

Mr Corbyn’s left eye was lightly hooded but his right eye beamed. He has scrubbed up well in terms of dress and beardiness. 

He even produced a soundbite – ‘I want to get an economy that works for all.’ Pinching a Tory slogan! Good one.

Marr asked about grammar schools, private healthcare and the Labour idea of wage limits at any companies doing public work. Mr Corbyn disliked the first two but was vaguely in favour of the third.

The economy – possibly Labour’s weakest area – was not much discussed but he did talk about yesterday’s big idea to introduce four new bank holidays for St David’s, St Patrick’s, St George’s and St Andrew’s Day. 

Mr Corbyn, by now almost horizontal, he was so spaced-out, said: ‘People being relaxed and spending more time with their families is quite a good thing.’

Marr, Britain’s most notorious workaholic, replied: ‘I’m always in favour of a holiday.’ We believe you, Andrew. But will the wife?

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