Peter Rhodes on the Berlin Wall, speed-reading MPs and Jeremy Corbyn - does he want to win?

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

The Wall comes down

I wish I'd thought of that. In the Sunday Times Josh Glancy says Brexit is "a hellish political maze no-one can escape from," created by the Referendum votes of pensioners. He calls it Gran's Labyrinth.

It is 30 years since the Berlin Wall came tumbling down. Judging from today's saturation coverage, I must have been the only hack who wasn't there.

Mind you, six years earlier I stood on the roof of the Reichstag in a British Army observation post on the edge of West Berlin and gazed out over the divided city, divided country, divided continent. The division seemed permanent, set in stone and guarded with tanks and howitzers. It was a wall where one view of the world ended and another began. And if you had asked me in 1983 how many more years the Berlin Wall would stand, I'd probably have guessed about as many as the Great Wall of China.

A reader says how strange it is that MPs demanded weeks to study Boris Johnson's 110-page EU withdrawal deal but, in less than 24 hours, were ready to comment on the Grenfell Tower disaster report which runs to nearly 1,000 pages. Selective speed-reading, perhaps?

Jeremy Corbyn steals my material. When the Tories announced a moratorium on fracking until it can be proved to be safe, I reached for my keyboard to suggest that this proof would magically appear on December 13, the day after the General Election. A couple of minutes later on the TV, Corbyn ridiculed the ban as "greenwash" and declared: "It sounds like fracking would come back on December 13, if they were elected back into office." So bang goes that item.

Corbyn's reaction is significant. For a start, he breaks the ancient taboo of a politician even contemplating the possibility of the other side winning an election. Secondly, Jezza is displaying a sense of humour. A few days ago he visited a lifelong Labour voter who has known him for years. She said: "He's a lot lighter and more optimistic about things than he used to be." I bet those words sent a chill through Tory Central Office. A doddering old, bad-tempered Jezza is an easy target. A light, optimistic Jezza is something new and dangerous.

So why might Corbyn be smiling? Possibly because he's the only party leader who's not desperate to become prime minister. If he wins the election he knows he'll probably be deposed by his comrades. If he loses, he goes back to his comfort zone of being the perpetual revolutionary. Some lefties would rather be true socialists in Opposition than have to make the obligatory compromises that go with power. Like shaking hands with Donald Trump.

Yes, I know I promised I wouldn't write about the election. It was an election promise.

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world


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