Two weeks ago today, the Labour Party woke up to its fourth successive election defeat – and its worst result since 1935.
Such an epic rout would, in any normal organisation, have prompted the immediate resignation of the boss.
But not Labour. Jeremy Corbyn and his well-paid inner circle are still hanging around to try to stitch up the succession and ensure that their dream of a Socialist Britain lives on after them.
The Turner winning ceramicist Grayson Perry delivered an acute and sharp-eyed diagnosis of Labour’s failings after he was invited to guest-edit BBC Radio Four’s Today programme. Pictured: Jeremy Corbyn and Ed Miliband visit flood victims and volunteers in Doncaster
This astonishing lack of awareness is mirrored in the commission Labour has set up to examine its landslide defeat. This is to be led by none other than ‘Red’ Ed Miliband – the man behind Labour’s last-but-one electoral car crash in 2015.
If Mr Miliband has found a way to reconnect with working-class Labour voters, it didn’t show on election night, when he saw his majority in Doncaster North slashed from more than 14,000 to little over 2,000.
No: to turn its fortunes around, Labour needs to look outside itself. And, yesterday, help appeared from an unlikely source.
The Turner Prize winning ceramicist Grayson Perry, famous for wearing make-up and dressing up in colourful frocks as his alter ego ‘Claire’, had been invited to guest-edit BBC Radio Four’s Today programme.
As well as inviting actor Christopher Biggins for a gloriously entertaining interview about pantomime dames, Mr Perry delivered an acute and sharp-eyed diagnosis of Labour’s failings.
The Left, the artist argued, was too rigid, too wedded to dogmatic beliefs, too uncompromising and – as a result – woefully out of touch with the British public.
‘We all need to learn – especially politicians if they’re going to be popular and have a wide constituency – that they need to appeal to more than a narrow bandwidth of puritans,’ he said.
The artist (pictured|) argued that Labour needed to stop thinking that it had perfect solutions that it could impose on Britain and accept the need to compromise
This might seem like common sense, but Mr Corbyn is deaf to such criticism.
Mr Perry continued: ‘I think there is more antipathy from the Left in the current climate: they seem more puritanical. They have a list of 20 things and if you only agree with 19 of them then you’re a fascist.’
Music to the ears, surely, of the moderates purged so ruthlessly by Mr Corbyn.
Labour, Mr Perry argued, needs to stop thinking that it has perfect solutions that it could impose on Britain. It should accept the need to compromise.
Only then could it reconnect with the centrist voters who are ‘Left-wing but not Left-wing enough for the people on the Left,’ as Mr Perry succinctly put it, and have deserted that party.
Mr Perry concluded by saying that the character of the leader is also important. Mr Corbyn, said Mr Perry, lost in part because he ‘didn’t seem to sense who Britain was’ and couldn’t have an ‘easy-going conversation with the general population’.
In a swipe at the Labour leader’s dry moralising, he said they might also benefit from a ‘sense of humour’. Mr Perry will no doubt be dismissed by Corbynistas, not least because he warned in advance that Mr Corbyn would lose the election.
And after praising Boris Johnson as ‘quite a funny man’ (sacrilege!), he will now be branded a Tory by the Corbynistas. This would be false.
For his critique is all the more compelling coming from a radical artist who was a Labour supporter until recently – and who donated artwork for the party to sell to raise cash when Mr Miliband was leader.
Privately, many senior Labour figures will agree with much of Mr Perry’s diagnosis.
But it’s unlikely that any will say so publicly, as potential leaders are required to sing the right Socialist tune to appeal to the hundreds of thousands of hard-Left members who joined up to champion Mr Corbyn.
That’s why many moderate Labour MPs believe that even the next leader will be unlikely to win power.
The best they can hope for may be an interim leader who, like Neil Kinnock in the 1980s, will steady the ship and begin the purge of the militants whose grip on the party, despite the election calamity, has never been stronger.
Worryingly, none of the contenders for the leadership have offered any serious critique of the party’s failings.
Instead, one by one, each has gone out of their way not to criticise the Dear Leader or suggest that the party needs to return the centre ground, from where elections are often won.
Risibly, the front runners have been competing among themselves to parade their working-class roots – at times echoing Monty Python’s famous ‘Four Yorkshiremen’ sketch, in which older gentlemen from that county describe the hardships they suffered growing up with ever-inreasing bleakness: ‘We lived for three months in a brown paper bag in a septic tank!’
Sir Keir Starmer, favourite to win the crown, declared he’d never been in an office until he went to university; while Emily Thornberry – the daughter of a UN diplomat – trumpeted her council-house upbringing.
Many hardline Corbynistas refuse to listen to the BBC, absurdly claiming it is biased against them. But if only they had thought to do so yesterday, they might have found the true reason for their electoral catastrophe just two weeks ago – and saved Mr Miliband a lot of trouble.