Slouching in his leather office chair, Seumas Milne’s mind began to meander into a melancholic mood. It had been a dark week for the Labour Party.
Everything that Jeremy had worked tirelessly towards for decades was unravelling. Nobody was talking about socialism. Nobody was talking about wealth redistribution. Nobody was even talking about David Cameron’s beastly offshore tax arrangements. It was all about Livingstone, and that Blairite fascist John Mann. The creation of a communist utopia seemed a million miles away.
All because of one word – antisemitism. Was there nothing good and pure, he mused to himself, that the Jews could not find a way of destroying?
He could just quit. Go back to writing fantasy fiction about imposing a Stalinist dictatorship via the pages of The Guardian. Life was so much simpler in those days, he thought. That new lady editor seemed even more dedicated to the cause than Rusbridger. He might move into management, get in on that Cayman Islands slush fund. Retire, move to Tuscany. It sounded like bliss.
His daydream was shattered by the sound of a bell being rung from the adjacent room. He rose slowly and trudged through to the small anteroom connected to the Leader of the Opposition’s office.
There, an elderly man sat in a wheelchair, gazing gormlessly out of the window. He was absent-mindedly ringing a small hand bell.
“Erm, yes Jeremy?,” ventured Milne, moving gently to his side, taking care not to make any sudden movements.
“Where’s my tray?,” snapped the Labour Leader. “I want my tray.”
“You had your tray two hours ago, Jeremy,” replied Milne, adjusting the tartan travel rug strewn across his boss’s lap. “Dinner time’s not until five.”
“I want to read the papers again, Seumas. Bring me the papers,” mithered the old man.
“Very well, Jeremy,” sighed Milne. He opened a small cupboard next to the door and pulled out a handful of yellowing papers from a drawer marked 1974-77.
“There you are, Jeremy. Today’s papers,” purred Milne.
“Oh wonderful. The Morning Star,” gushed Corbyn, pushing his glasses up his nose with a shaky hand. “And look, Seumas – Full Steam Ahead for GDR – We’re winning Seumas, we’re winning!”
Seumas poured some orange squash into a plastic tipper cup and placed it on the windowsill within reach of his elderly employer. “That’s right Jeremy, we’re winning. There’s some nice orange juice for you,” he said, soothingly. “Now, is there anything else I can do for you?”
The old man gestured towards the television. “I want to see the news, Seumas. Be a good chap and switch the television on.”
Milne moved towards the dusty portable television set. He paused briefly to hit the rewind button on the video recorder it sat upon. He waited a few seconds until he heard a faint click, before hitting the play button.
“There you are Jeremy, there’s the BBC News for you,” said Milne, as grainy footage of the May Day parade through Red Square in 1967 sprung to life on the screen.
“Oh look, Seumas. Everything’s going to plan,” he croaked. “Look how magnificent the world looks under communism.”
Jeremy Corbyn’s Head of Press lingered beside his boss, staring at the black and white image of Leonid Brezhnev standing proudly atop Lenin’s tomb. That could have been Jeremy, he thought.
He looked down. The Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition had dropped off to sleep. Milne sighed.
He went to gather the old copies of the Morning Star off his lap but was startled as Corbyn suddenly jolted awake and gripped his arm. There was a look of bewilderment in his eyes.
“Seumas,” he mewled, a tone of confusion in his voice. “Am I still the Prime Minister?”
Milne swallowed hard. “Yes Jeremy, yes you are.”
“And Ken. Dear old Ken. Is he still running London for me?”
“Yes. Ken’s doing just fine,” replied Milne, gritting his teeth.
“Splendid. Just splendid,” mumbled the old man. He quietly hummed the first few bars of the national anthem of the Soviet Union before drifting back into slumber.
Milne trudged back through to his desk with tears in his eyes. He couldn’t quit. What would the old man do without him? McDonnell would have him put in a home. Abbott hardly ever visited any more. He was all Jeremy had left. To the devil with The Guardian, he was going to see this through. He was going to win the next general election for Jeremy.
He began to visualise the old man waving from balconies, making great victory speeches, hoisting the red flag of communism above Downing Street. A new era. A new Britain.
This daydream was just beginning to cheer him up when the sound of the hand bell interrupted him again.
“Seumas!” came a reedy cry, above the sound of the bell. “Seumas, fetch the commode. It’s an emergency.”
© DH 2016