Notes on Corbyn and UB40… and spotting a grammar school plot…

I MUST have nodded off while watching the news last night, for I had the strangest dream. Jeremy Corbyn was being endorsed by the band UB40. Yet when I woke up this morning, the story was all over the newspapers. So it wasn’t a dream at all.

Politics is very odd sometimes nowadays. Jeremy Corbyn has been forced to apply for his own job in an echo of the worst sort of behaviour perpetrated by big corporate firms. And now he’s brought along some friends in a band who had a hit or two 30 years ago.

Red Red Wine and something else, I forget now. And don’t got dropping an ‘h’ into the title of their most famous song, or they’ll be all sorts of trouble. The followers of Jeremy tend to notice that sort of thing.

Now I know from experience that his disciples don’t much like the mainstream media. Yet the papers seem to have this story about right today, I’d say, as the reaction is mostly one of mild puzzlement. No one can quiet work out the what or why of this strange betrothal.

There was also an accidental political metaphor at work here too, as UB40 is a famously disputatious band (as well as a dull one) who split in two years ago. I don’t wish to bore you with the details as they are as complicated as they are wearying. Basically there are now two bands called UB40 – and only one of them supports Jeremy Corbyn’s bid to get his old job back. According to reports this morning, the other UB40 said they don’t back Mr Corbyn. Whether that is down to politics-politics or band politics remains unclear.

I like to imagine the meeting at which this curious stunt was first suggested.

“Go on, Jeremy, think of a band you like…”

“Oh, you know, I always had a bit of a thing for Dire Straits.”

“No, that won’t do – the name doesn’t play well at all. Anyone else?”

“Well I did used to like UB40…”

Who knows what happened, but it’s all very strange.

In the same dream, someone walked into Downing Street carrying a piece of paper bearing the title My Big Evil Plot. And wouldn’t you know it but a photographer spotted it. Some photographers specialise in this sneaky art, hanging around outside Downing Street and waiting for ministers or officials going in or out while carrying suspicious pieces of paper.

My reaction on this occasion, and on every other, is that this must be some kind of set up. If you are trying to keep something secret, you hide it; if you are trying to spill a secret, you brandish it in plain sight.

On this occasion, a short note written by Jonathan Slater, permanent secretary at the Department for Education, was snapped as a civil servant walked along Downing Street, possibly whistling loudly in an attempt ‘not’ to attract attention.

The piece of paper suggested that Theresa May’s government could soon end the ban on building new grammar schools.

This grammar game is even older than UB40, but Mrs May has revived it, suggesting that she wants to see more grammar schools. There are many reasons why this old ideological hit shouldn’t be played again, but it is one of the Tories’ favourite old tunes.

Without going through those doors again (past blogs have explained the objections this old grammar school boy has to such a revival), what we have here essentially is another new government wanting to tinker with education. They just can’t leave well alone.

And when this lot have moved on and someone else is in power – who knows, a coalition between Jeremy Corybn and UB40 – education will be messed around with again in the name of improvement.

And so it goes on, each new change followed by a newer one. Or in the case of grammar schools, an older one.