Saturday, Sep 22, 2018 | Last Update : 01:19 AM IST
May once had a 24-point lead over Mr Corbyn — now he has a five-point lead.
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, often written off by the media, seen as a liability by his own party, is now suddenly the saviour of the UK. At the Glastonbury music festival, he strode the stage as though he were playing in a major band, and the media, smelling success, were asking musicians due to go on the stage at the same time, whether they were worried to be pitted against “JC”, the new, improved Jeremy Corbyn. He played completely to the audience — raising those issues that the young and idealistic festival-goers, who want to exist in a non-Trump, non-May, non-Brexit world, are concerned about. This might not be a realistic agenda, and he might not be able to fulfil most of what he is promising, but in politics it is better to sell a dream, and let reality sink in only after elections have been won.
Everyone is now wondering just how long the present Prime Minister, Theresa May, who is looking pale and wan post her Brexit pummeling at Brussels, will last. No one is giving her beyond September 2017, in which case rockstar “JC”(who shares his initials with the founder of the Christian faith) may well become the new Prime Minister. Ms May once had a 24-point lead over Mr Corbyn — now he has a five-point lead.
Every setback can be put down to “over-confidence”. Just like the disastrous defeat of the Indian cricket team can be traced to hubris, so can Ms May’s downfall, as she reaches the point of no return.
However, one knows how quickly the scenario can change. The problem for Ms May is that Mr Corbyn has been helped enormously by recent random events — the terror attacks as well as the fire at the Grenfell Tower, which is in one of the poshest areas of London, but housed some of the most underprivileged.
In many ways, within London lies a tale of two cities — the marginalised who exist cheek by jowl to the rich. It is a story that the left-leaning JC is well qualified to exploit.
The other day I met someone who has known JC for many years. He said that JC is more of a “communitarian” than a “communist” and that he has never read Karl Marx. But saviours of the world never need ideology to save us from doom, they can always make it up as they go along! JC is just putting together his own Bible, shortly to be revealed!
Meanwhile, some slow and steady success is always possible and this week we also attended the 20th-year celebration of the Loomba Foundation, which has been caring for widows around the world. Lord Raj Loomba was inspired to set up the foundation in the memory of his mother, who was widowed at the age of 37, in 1954, and had to bring up seven children on her own. The treatment meted out to her left an indelible impression on the young Raj so that when he became a successful businessman he decided, along with his wife, Veena, to set up a foundation to help widows. One of the major achievements of the foundation has been to get 23rd June (the day when Raj’s own mother became a widow) recognised as International Widows’ Day by the United Nations.
It was great to meet Cherie Blair, the wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair as well as many other friends at the fundraiser-cum-anniversary celebrations in London. Gopichand Hinduja was there as was Suhel Seth, both of whom are deeply interested in philanthropic causes.
This time of the year is also when the London Indian Film Festival takes place, all thanks to the dedicated efforts of Cary Sawhney. (There was a time when I used to chair the London Asian Film Festival, so I know how much hard work goes into this.) The opening film was The Black Prince, the tragic tale of Duleep Singh, the son of the legendary Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Directed by Kavi Raz, the film features singer Satinder Sartaaj, in the eponymous role, supported by Shabana Azmi who plays Rani Jindan superbly. Amanda Root gives a stellar performance as Queen Victoria.
This is a very complex tale of a conflicted man who could have been king of a very impressive empire, but is reduced to being a so-called son to Queen Victoria. He is nurtured to be a Christian and to renounce his Sikh faith, and he is too vulnerable to resist any of these astute moves by the British. The latter’s sole intent was not to do “what was good for him” but to ensure that there was no danger of him rebelling and laying claim to Punjab. For this they kept him in good comfort, miles away from his kingdom. The strategy worked, and even though he did try to feebly raise a force against the British, in the end he died a broken man.
In this 70th year post-Independence and Partition, it is always interesting to revisit forgotten chapters of history from a fresh perspective.