Politics is a game that people who look uncomfortable wearing T-shirts like to play, and I have no idea whether it is good or bad or neither, but it's there, always, whirring like humungous clanking steam-powered cogs, a social machine grinding everything down into soundbites and podium speeches and mis-distributed wealth. There's some more politics today, because seven MPs resigned from the Labour Party and started their own spin-off, the doomed Joey to Corbyn's Friends, and that party is called: "The Independent Group". Sounds like one of those faceless shell corporations that owns a lot of local newspapers, yes, but it isn't. It's the future of politics.
Worms are an undulating pink mass writhing in the earth beneath us, always. Soil-dwelling until it rains, worms are considered a medium-to-good source of proteins and fats for birds and fish, and they have no face and arguably no soul, and they writhe there, like glistening pink noodles. Sean Dyche once pretended to eat one. Would I advise you eat a worm? I would not advise you eat a worm. Can I get a vague idea of who you are as a person, your wants and needs and desires, based on my own ability to assuage whether you would eat a worm or not? Yes. Yes I can.
And so it is my sad duty to do this: to rank each of the seven Independent Group members based on how likely they are to eat a worm. I don't like having to do this. But someone has to do this. And it is me. And actually I do like it, I lied about that first part.
When "The Independent Group" did their stilted breakaway press conference like a load of department heads arranging a short-notice assembly to tell you that your headmaster is gravely ill, Ann Coffey was the one who most powerfully had the vibe of "art teacher who had to be put on leave for nervous shock after that hard Year 11 boy said 'wanking' out loud in a class", and for that reason I do not think she is capable of chowing down on a worm. Coffey seems as if she spends most of her working day trying to find the right pair of varifocal lenses to squint through so she can read the labels on all her hundreds of boxes of herbal tea, and there's absolutely no way a worm is getting into that hectic schedule. In my verdict she would: not eat wormy
Do you remember in 2013 there was an Apprentice candidate who was so unerringly sinister he was immediately nicknamed "Dracula" because he had waxed eyebrows, a gothic blood-coloured tie and the extreme vibe that he'd bitten more than one windpipe out of a deer dying stranded on the side of a Welsh road? Gavin Shuker is like the softboi inversion of him, as if they were twins born from the same womb, only one was raised by werewolf hybrids in an ancient Bridgend castle and one was raised by, like, early nut milk adopters in Luton. For that reason, I don’t think you’d be able to coerce him into eating a worm.
Just feel like a lot of people who went to school with Gavin Shuker are telling separate anecdotes across offices in the UK today, and all of them, despite being entirely separate incidences and separate stories, end with "and then he somehow wet himself in front of the whole class. You know how when you see a kid wet themselves you always know first because you see them standing still, silently crying, with a single leg shaking? It takes a minute or so for the urine itself to manifest? You know that face? Anyway. He did that. A lot."
Looking at Chris Leslie is like looking at a filing cabinet, or a ring binder: I see that it's doing a job, sure, but I'm not interested in it, and I’ll forget I’m looking at it even with my eyes fixed entirely on it. I could probably make him eat a worm if you locked us both in a room together for an hour, but it’d be like watching a sink eat a worm, or a shredder: a small, grey, emotionless mechanical function, as exciting as flicking on a light switch.
To me, Luciana Berger has a sleeves-rolled-up vibe that says: "Yeah, I'll give it a go." Do you want to start a splinter cell of seven MPs who resign from the Labour Party, and one of the main ones we’ve got is Mike Gapes? "Yeah, I’ll give it a go." Do you want to eat a worm, whole and alive still, in one foul gulp? "Yeah, I'll give it a go." I feel like Luciana Berger is the exact friend you want when you need help moving, or putting some shelves up. Luciana Berger would help you tidy up your garden. She has a big tray to lend you when you say you're doing moussaka. She’d take that jumper back to the returns desk at Next when you are too coward to do so. She would eat a worm if you put her on the spot, yeah.
At the unveiling today, everyone else did a speech about how they felt the Labour Party in its current iteration had failed the principles they originally signed up for, failed to support its own politicians against anti-Semitism and party infighting, and how the only way to progress was to splinter off into a centrist sub-group and pit up against Labour as an independent. Apart from Angela Smith, who did a whole five-minute Hovis-advert bit about how she grew up working poor, how she couldn't do her O-Levels at a good school for some reason and how she didn’t get a degree until she was 29. I mean, well done for overcoming the institutional biases against the working class, but come on, mate, read the room.
Anyway: Angela Smith would eat a worm if you pointed to it and said "poor people eat those".
Gapes would eat a worm, no doubt. Look at him. No one that purple is saying no to a worm.
I feel like Chuka would eat a worm, yes, but it’s the manner of the worm-eating that would be so notable: while the rest of the MPs stuttered through their pre-prepared speeches like they were learning to read out loud and this was the first time in their life that they'd encountered words, Chuka breezed through his announcement that Politics Isn't Working So We’re Going To Do More Politics with style and élan and grace, like a smooth dolphin skimming fast through a glistening summer sea.
Would he eat a worm? He would absolutely eat a worm. He’d eat a worm to show Labour what they’re missing. But how would he eat a worm? He’d eat a worm like Beyoncé does a dance routine. He’d eat a worm like Pirlo dinking a penalty over Joe Hart. He’d eat a worm like Jon Hamm wears a suit. He’d eat a worm with a perfect balletic movement, that’d make you feel stupid for the foolish way you eat worms, all thumbs and fingers. He’d pluck a worm spinning mid-air with chopsticks and gulp it down in one. Then he’d start an independent worm-eating party for reasons no one else really understands, one that is doomed to fragment and shatter after less than a year. But still. That first worm. You’ll remember that first worm.