Dear Aunt Agatha,
A thought occurred to me on my paper round last week. It’s a trivial problem. I want to be liked and respected as the Left’s standard-bearer, but instead I’m regarded as a self-seeking opportunist who’ll do anything to be in the limelight, and that I switch allegiances according to who might assist my goal.
My credentials are impeccable as the son of a university lecturer and a local authority worker, who met at a Trotskyist Militant rally. Despite my background I’ve always represented working-class people and trade union types, rather than intellectual Marxists. I wrote about them and trumpeted the class-consciousness they no longer feel. To show solidarity I always wear the same jeans and check shirt, like they do, although I do change pullovers.
I recently attacked my own side, hoping to gain status when they were swept to oblivion. Unfortunately, they weren’t, and it was an own goal. Now they regard me as a traitor. I have tried walking on my hands and knees up to my leader and licking his toe-caps, but to no avail. I sent him a copy of Mao’s Little Red Book, bought cheaply on e-Bay because it has J. McDonnell written on the flyleaf, but my gesture was not even acknowledged.
Where do I begin? It’s quite OK to be a self-seeking opportunist – that description fits most people in politics and the media. But don’t let it show so brazenly. It’s no good extravagantly praising your leader; most left-wingers looking for a knighthood are already doing that. Clearly they are not going to let you fight a by-election for them, since you are neither female not black, nor even transgender. And your lifestyle doesn’t really go with a peerage.
You could change parties of course. I think the Tory boys would welcome you with open arms, so to speak, and I’m sure they’d regard you as something of a trophy defection and give you a starring role.
You’ve written books about those at the bottom, and those who run things from the top, so now write something more intellectual. I suggest you write a synthesis, showing how theoretical socialism can be married to working class aspirations. Calling it “The Fourth Way” would be too simplistic, so I suggest you call it something like “By Gum, Cynthia,” and pretend that socialism can give them what they want, which is more money and less work. You know it can’t, of course, but that’s not your problem. You’ll be feted and interviewed and paid huge fees as a speaker, and welcomed back as the thinker who makes their power-grab intellectually respectable.