Money in the bank

From Jeremy and Corbyn, Chapter Three – order now on Kindle

At that moment the mash of noise faltered. Lord Peter had entered.

As he neared, he did not slow or meet their eyes, but walked straight past them without so much as a smile and continued toward an isolated corner of the tea rooms, near to the gap in the service counter through which the waitresses passed. Two large Tory gentlemen sat there enjoying bacon and eggs, minding their own business.

Tristram and Chuka watched silently, and so did the rest of the tea room. The tubby Tories, seeing Peter approach, rose from their seats and one almost unbalanced in his chair.

Soon they both developed watery smiles and began nodding pensively. Then they gathered their eggs, their mugs, papers and briefcases in clumsy bundles and vacated the table with good will.

Peter took his seat, extracted a handkerchief and lightly dusted the table.

The boys approached, and he did not stir, but merely sat cross-legged, staring into nothing and indifferent to the world around him. Presently the Lord looked up at them with the inner peace of a grandfather wakened from a dream.

‘Hello, my boys. Please, be seated.’

Soon the tea room returned to the usual bludgeon, although one or two eyes continued to twitch toward the wholesome little threesome nested in the corner.

A waitress immediately brought Peter a pot of tea. The briefest of small talk was had, and then Peter asked them:

‘And how do you feel about the present predicament?’ Tristram suspected his meaning.

‘I was only just saying to Chuka, a lot of chaps have already promised themselves to Liz’s camp. I mean, early days yet, but they really have moved ever so quickly. All in rather bad taste, I thought.’

‘Have you not read the papers? It is not the contest, my dear boy… and yet again, it is.’

Tristram understood that Peter enjoyed testing them, but this was far too cryptic. The boys looked at each other, neither knowing Peter’s meaning. The Lord leant back in his chair for a moment and pressed the tips of his fingers together.

‘There’s no easy way to say this my boys, so I’m afraid I’m going to have to just come straight out and say it: We are going to have to pull out of the race.’

‘What!’ blurted Tristram, indignant for his friend. Chuka looked down at his shoes.

‘What’s developed, PM?’ asked Chuka.

‘I do wish you boys would keep up with your reading. What has happened is this,’ he said, producing a bundle of photocopied sheets from inside his jacket and landing them on the table. They were of a national newspaper and underlined heavily in biro.

‘New directives?’ asked Chuka.

Tristram looked about him.

‘Isn’t this a bit out in the open, PM?’

‘It is in the newspapers, my boy, hardly top secret. Not that anyone here is giving it the attention it deserves, what with this blasted leadership contest. But the Clientele certainly is.’

‘What does it say, PM?’ asked Tristram.

‘Oh, it says many things my boy, many things that I’m sure a clever lad like you might have guessed.’ He sipped his tea.

‘It contains the most advanced analysis of the general election to date and tells us that our previous conclusions were, well, quite unfounded. For us, the most important headline is the Labour vote. According to the data, it was the most middle-class vote in the party’s history.’

‘Surely that can’t be right,’ said Tristram. ‘If we had captured the middle ground, how could we have possibly lost the election?’

‘Because the proletarian core,’ Peter whispered grudgingly, leaning forward in his chair, ‘did something we failed to price in… They deserted the party in their droves!’ He banged the flat of his hand on the table, causing his tea to upset. Eyes blinked from the corners of the room. Tristram was confused. It did not seem to him something to be all that upset about.

‘But doesn’t that show that we’re winning? Isn’t it proof that union influence is on the wane?’

‘My dear boy,’ said Peter. ‘There is no point advancing on a position if you leave your rear exposed. The proles are our base – money in the bank.’

From Jeremy and Corbyn, Chapter Three – order now on Kindle

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