As far as I remember, since I started making collages in the early eighties, I don’t think I’ve ever made a flattering picture of a politician.
I’ve never felt the urge to do so, what with the smarmy hypocrites governments palm off on us. So I was surprised, when, sifting through my collection of cut-out images the other day, I suddenly found myself concocting a heroic, iconic image of Jeremy Corbyn, the newly-elected leader of the British Labour Party. With his head cut from a City AM front page and his torso from an action movie, I set to work to find a suitable background, and with the addition of a cracked halo – voila! – King Corbyn!
I have to admit I’ve been smitten by the sudden Corbyn-mania sweeping the country, agreeing with all of his ‘far-left’ policies – Scrap Trident, leave NATO, abolish austerity and the monarchy, amongst others. The British right-wing media (almost all) try to disparage and belittle the man and his ideas as much as they can, even sneering at his lack of dress sense, so I’ve made him a bit flash in the picture, stuff he’d never wear in real life.
Corbyn went up even further in my estimation when, shirt top-button undone at a war memorial ceremony in Westminster Abbey on Sunday, he remained silent as the rest of the congregation sang the National Anthem.
“God Save Our Gracious Queen”? I don’t think so! Good for him!
A man of principle, and now of power, Corbyn has accepted an invitation to join the Privy Council, the elite board of Ministers elected as advisers to the Queen. The self-confessed Republican demurred over whether he would perform the customary bow and light brush-kiss of the monarch’s outstretched gloved hand at his inauguration. “Some old things have to change..”
Anyway, pleased with my picture and the wording, which could be a kind of chant – “TORIES OUT! LABOUR IN! JEREMY CORBYN – PARTY KING!” – on Tuesday morning I made some photocopies of it and headed for Parliament, where Corbyn was to make his maiden speech at Prime Minister’s Question Time in the House of Commons at midday. I was sure that there’d be other supporters outside. I planned to stand on the green opposite Parliament to display the collage and hand out copies to people who wanted one.
But when I got off the tube at Westminster the weather was atrocious. Both heavy rain and drizzle descended incessantly from a thick blanket of grey clouds. I sheltered under the arches opposite Big Ben, holding up my damp poster for the inspection of passing brief-cased politicians and bemused umbrella-wielding tourists. It was wet, man!
A fresh-faced, red-haired young man, head covered against the rain by a Palestinian flag, joined me for a chat, giving my picture the thumbs-up. He was on his way to a football match between his team and a visiting Israel team from Tel Aviv. He intended to wave the flag there in protest, but in the meantime had dropped off in Parliament Square to see what was happening. He was very enthusiastic about Corbyn and his policies, and we both waxed positive on his support of Palestinian rights.
Only last week British Tory Prime Minister David Cameron had entertained Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who last visited the country for the 2013 funeral of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher. They met at Number 10 to “discuss diplomatic, strategic and bilateral issues, as well as joint challenges in the fields of security, economics and cyber.” Cameron said that the talks would seek “to enhance what is already a very good relationship”.
In a statement, the UK based Palestine Solidarity Campaign said: “We want to know why David Cameron is welcoming a man directly responsible for UN-identified war crimes to the UK. Instead of welcoming Netanyahu, he should be imposing immediate sanctions and an arms embargo on Israel until it complies with international law and ends the occupation and the siege on Gaza.” More than 500 children were among the 2,100 Palestinians killed, the majority of them civilians.
Demands by protestors that Netanyahu be arrested for war crimes were met with disdain by the government. Not wiv Corbyn, they wouldn’t! But as far as we could see, there weren’t any other protestors or supporters out there in the pouring rain.
Suddenly a march of uniformed soldiers trooped past to the beat of drums, heading for a ceremony at nearby Westminster Abbey to honour service men and women returning from ‘duties in Africa during the Ebola Crisis’; a queue of black London taxis encircled and blocked Parliament Square, blaring their horns in a protest strike at the takeover of Uber cabs, and a jumbo jet flew dangerously low overhead, ploughing the pelting clouds above the dedraggled rain-sodden crowd of tourists and yellow-jacketted policemen. It was like a scene from a nightmare.
I’d been there over an hour and decided to split; but before I did, I asked my new friend Tom if he’d heard about the shooting of a black man by police in the suburb of Brixton in late September. He said he hadn’t, and was shocked when I told him about the case, which has gone ignored or suppressed by the media and press for nearly a month. We pondered whether a government D Notice had been place on the story in order to avoid social unrest.
Last week David Cameron, like other posh capitalists, nervous as hell about the way things have been going since Jeremy’s election as Labour leader, described him as “a threat to National Security.” We say: “Nuts to you, David.” And the press can’t ignore him or his views, no matter how they’d like to.
Carry on, Corbyn! We’re with you!