Only Aamon the demon is fit to replace Jeremy Corbyn | Stewart Lee

During a brainstorming session to debate Labour’s new leader, dark forces loomed large

Boris Piccaninny Watermelon Letterbox Cake Bumboys Vampires Haircut Wall-Spaffer Spunk-Burster Fuck-Business Fuck-the-Families Get-Off-My-Fucking-Laptop Girly-Swot Big-Girl’s-Blouse Chicken-frit Hulk-Smash Noseringed-Crusties Death-Humbug Technology-Lessons Surrender-Bullshit French-Turds Dog-Whistle Get-Stuffed FactcheckUK@CCHQ Get-Brexit-Done Johnson is finally your elected prime minister! And the past decade’s worth of my multi-award-winning satirical standup sets seem like the sagely predictions of a seer.

Sometimes I scare myself and I am a familiar face at the TK Maxx emergency underwear counter. Young activists in the Labour party recognise me as a doom barometer, and tremble when they encounter me. I agreed to meet some of the optimistic hope vessels for a brain-storming session and suggested a fashionably minimalist Dalston bar called Untitled, as if to satirise the youthful city-dwelling socialists’ perceived cultural isolationism.

In Workington, for example, pubs still have the names of actual things: the Henry Bessemer is named after the inventor of the Bessemer steel manufacturing process; the Pack Horse is named after an actual horse that did actual work, exactly the kind of horse with genuine non-racist anxieties about foreign horses that is now deserting the Labour party in droves; and there’s Vinnie’s Bar, which is probably named after Vinnie Jones. Or Vinnie Vincent, who replaced Ace Frehley in Kiss. Either way, it isn’t named after something that isn’t even a thing, like a bar in Hackney called Untitled where metropolitan liberal elitists go.

“Should shell-shocked Labour double down with a new leader from its far left again or aim for the centre ground,” I opined, as the activists licked their alcopopsicles. “Sadly, no Labour leader, however convincing, can win an election while the lies of unregulated social media, the false claims of the Conservatives themselves and both the bias and impotence of mainstream media all remain untreated. In short, it doesn’t matter whose head is thrust into the threshing machine. They will still come back with a severely threshed head.” The youngsters nodded in baffled agreement at my aged wisdom.

“A Frankingstein assembled from leftover body parts attractive both to the wine-quaffing, avocado-crushing, lentil-souffle-nibbling, champagne-socialist hypocrites of Hackney and the chip-butty-gobbling, fish-gut-snuffling, raw-offal-scoffing racist troglodytes of Hull will never fly,” I continued, holding forth. “And yet the Labour party thinks it needs to unite these two incompatible, and quite frankly vile and unacceptable, stereotypes.”

“Then how,” asked one young woman, her mascara still smeared from days of unstinting weeping, “do we unite Labour supporters in constituencies as different as Hull and Hackney? I’ve never been to Hull, but I am told it is not the same as London at all. Do they have any of those cafes that only serve breakfast cereals, for example?”

“Deluded strategists think the Hull-Hackney divide could be bridged by choosing Rebecca Long-Bailey as leader,” I condescended, “as long as she is made to visit more fringe-theatre productions, go around on a bike towing a trailer full of children in £28 Cath Kidston bobble hats and be photographed at Glastonbury dancing to Toots and the Maytals. Others think the solution is as simple as electing Keir Starmer leader, but never allowing him to appear anywhere except at bookmakers and never without mushy peas, curry sauce and saveloy dip smeared all round his mouth.”

“You can get all mushy peas in the chip shop opposite the cemetery,” piped up Dan, hopefully. “Shall I ask them who their supplier is and then we can get masses of the bloody stuff ready to smear on Keir when victory is near?”

“It’s too late for that,” I explained, leading the activists out across the road towards De Beauvoir Place, now rebuilt from wartime bomb rubble. “The media and the opposition will demonise any Labour leader that Turds faces across the house. Best to meet the problem head on. The party should be led instead by an actual demon.”

“Come on, Grandad! Demons aren’t real!” exclaimed a spotty cynic, unaware that he was standing on the very site of the 1854 birthplace of Aleister Crowley’s acolyte, Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, who conjured them all, one by one, and knew each of their secret and unholy names.

“Not far from here Mathers summoned Aamon, the Marquess of Hell, governor of 40 infernal legions, in the form of a wolf with a serpent’s tail, retching forth flames,” I told the incredulous Labour party activists. “And when they walked south towards Arnold Circus Aamon took the shape of a man, so as not to cause commotion, but his mouth was full of dogs’ teeth and he hid his head, suddenly that of a hawk, beneath a black hood. In the words of Mathers himself, ‘Aamon telleth all things Past and to Come. He procureth feuds and reconcileth controversies between friends.’ Put Aamon in charge. You cannot demonise a demon.”

“How about Jess Phillips instead?” piped up an insolent youngster. “She’d be a great match for Johnson in parliament. His cynicism and lies would look feeble before her passion and honesty and she’s properly funny, rather than just saying things in Latin. And she’s all over the detail, whereas he just wings it. And people trust anyone with a Birmingham accent, thinking them incapable of guile. It would play badly when Johnson bullies and patronises her too. The answer is staring us in the face.”

“What use is this ‘Aamon’ of yours to the parliamentary Labour party,” squawked another youth, “and why is a demon a more logical choice than, for example, Angela Rayner or even Lisa Nandy?”

And then I realised I was alone. The young socialists were drinking small sour drinks and sampling Japanese sharing plates somewhere. And I was on the pavement as it started to rain, shouting up at an obsolete golden chicken, perched atop a former Courage pub, now a Nando’s. “You finally really did it. You maniacs. God damn you. God damn you all to hell.”

Extra London dates of Stewart Lee’s latest live show, Snowflake/Tornado, have just been announced at the Southbank Centre in June and July, and it tours nationally from January.


Stewart Lee

The GuardianTramp

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