A spectre is haunting Europe, the spectre of hope....
Echoing around the hills of Glastonbury, Oooooooh Jeremy Corbyn, oh Jeremy Corbyn.....
Theresa May is now the prime minister in name only. Leading a government that may not survive the week, propped up (she hopes) by the homophobes of the DUP, anyone can see her time is nearly up.
So while May is in office but not in power, who has stepped into the vacuum of leadership she has left? None other than Jeremy Corbyn.
Much has already been written about Labour’s election results and the surge in support from young people – fun as it is to keep repeating that in the faces of the former doubters, we’ll leave it for another time.
The point here is simpler: Jeremy Corbyn now not only looks like a future prime minister, he has started acting like one. While May hides away, the country turns to Jeremy in its hours of need.
Take the Grenfell fire. While Theresa May refused to meet victims for days, before finally being chased out of Kensington by a crowd shouting ‘coward!’, Jeremy Corbyn could do nothing other than go there and comfort those affected.
This is not political calculation. It’s not done for party gain. It’s simply Jeremy being Jeremy, running towards those who are suffering and trying to do anything he can to help.
His policy demand for former Grenfell residents to be given requisitioned homes – much-mocked by the right just days ago – became government policy today. This wouldn’t have happened without the street movements calling for justice, and Corbyn’s Labour fashioning it into a pointed demand that the authorities could no longer resist granting.
Then look at the racist terror attack on the Finsbury Park Mosque. Once again Corbyn was welcomed, standing with the people and comforting them; once again May kept her distance, and was heckled.
Jeremy Corbyn no longer looks like the leader of the opposition. It has been widely noted that MPs questioned him closely today as if he were the prime minister. But more important is the way ordinary people treat him wherever he goes.
Despite not yet holding the official title, he has become the People’s Prime Minister. While Theresa May can barely go out of her own front door without being confronted by protesters, Jeremy is playing Glastonbury on Saturday.
This is not about personality – it’s about policy. Jeremy is the one with the policies that people want to see after this near-decade of killer austerity. His Labour Party’s manifesto has the popular answers that would help millions of people if only they were implemented. And the weakness of the Conservatives creates an opening to start implementing pieces of it now.
In parliament today, in the debate on the Queen’s Speech, Corbyn pledged to “use every opportunity to win support for our programme”. “Labour is not merely an opposition,” he said. “We are a government in waiting, with a policy programme that enthused and engaged millions of people in this election.”
Whether it takes days, weeks or months until this zombie Tory government finally falls, the people have chosen their leader.
For the original of this article in Red Pepper, click here.