Quite a lot of people seem to have spent quite a lot of time over the last couple of days talking about Jeremy Corbyn’s train journey from London to Newcastle. And while the idea of a senior politician venturing outside the capital – and on public transport, no less – is verging on the newsworthy, I can’t help but think that we’re getting distracted from the things that actually matter.
Sure, it seems a little odd that Jeremy couldn’t find a seat on a train in the middle of the day. But most of us would just hang around until something became free. We probably wouldn’t stage our own little sit-in in the vestibule. And we almost certainly wouldn’t make a video about it. So I have some sympathy with those who detect the whiff of opportunistic publicity stunt about the whole saga.
And this, to journalists on the hunt for silly-season stories, is clearly irresistible.
The media have developed quite a nack for Corbyn-baiting. Although in fairness the chap himself doesn’t exactly make it difficult for them. And so we have a press conference where Jeremy’s demanding that people ask him questions about the NHS, while everyone else wants to know whether he based his assertion that a train was jam-packed on anything more than a quick peek into the buffet car.
That’s the problem with courting the limelight, Jeremy. You don’t get to choose where people shine it.
I’m not saying, of course, that our railways are perfect. And whether public or private ownership would be the best way of securing the necessary investment is certainly a debate worth having. But we need a grown-up discussion. Not a childish spat between the ‘leader’ of the ‘opposition’ (I use the inverted commas deliberately), the media and anyone else with access to the internet and an axe to grind. (Or a leadership contest to win and a pack of rabid supporters to feed.)
But that’s all beside the point.
The point is this: There are children drowning off our beaches. We’ve got people in Italy buried beneath the rubble of their homes. We’re half-in and half-out of the European Union and nobody know what the hell’s going on. We’re destroying our climate and have no plans to do anything about it other than to drill for more fossil fuels.
We have bigger issues to deal with, quite frankly, than whether it can be a bit touch and go if you’ll get a seat on a train.
I know that. You know that. So why on Earth can’t Jeremy Corbyn and the entire media circus figure it out? Let’s have a little perspective. Please.