He has issues… Labour election

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What products have brought Roger Ratcliffe back to internet shopping?

I don’t often shop on Ebay these days. Items that initially seemed surefire bargains were used a couple of times then sent on a relentless journey to the back of cupboards. For example, in fierce bidding wars I won a herb mill that much preferred to keep the herbs to itself, and a rare album by a 1960s rock band that turned out to be a CD-R copy.

But here I am again, back online, credit card at the ready, heartbeat thumping, keeping track of something that really does promise to be an absolute steal. It’s a Buy Now item rather than an auction and, unusually, if I do decide to snap this up delivery won’t be for another four weeks.

That hasn’t stopped thousands of others forking out the £3 purchase price. According to the Guardian, as many as 50,000 people have already done so, and I can understand why. Rarely does an opportunity to take part in history come so cheap. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to buy the leader of the Labour Party.

The process is simple. Off I went on the internet, not to Ebay but to enter “Labour registered member” in the Google box, which a couple of clicks later had me staring at a screen that declared “Choose the new Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party”. I had a choice of three buttons to click, and above the middle one it said: “Want to have your say in who Labour’s next leader is? Register as a supporter for as little as £3.”

By now I was starting to feel like I was on Ebay, so I began to visualise the four leadership contenders as products for sale.

Andy Burnham struck me as a garden blower vac, which people use to clear away dead leaves, as he would like to blow away the deadwood left-wing politics of his fellow contender Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn reminded me of one of those stripped pine rocking chairs that were fashionable with polytechnic lecturers and social workers back in the 1970s. Which is probably because Jeremy knows a thing or two about rocking, having voted against Labour policies in the House of Commons more than 500 times in the last 14 years.

Yvette Cooper I saw as a stylish bluetooth-enabled music system that connects to your laptop, tablet and smartphone. Anything you want to hear, Yvette can play it. She’s the easy listening option.

As for the fourth contender, Liz Kendall, I kept seeing a shiny state-of-the-art fridge freezer, always ready with champagne on tap or a hi-ball of crushed ice for a Bloody Mary or whatever cocktail’s in fashion with Labour luvvies.

To be honest, I still haven’t stumped up £3 because none of the above products appeals to me. But evidently thousands are logging on to buy the rocking chair… sorry, Jeremy Corbyn – although some might be doing so to build an enormous bonfire, since they believe that Corbyn is so left-wing and unelectable he will surely burn Labour to the ground.

Ah, say Labour, we’ve weeded out 1,000 malicious rocking chair purchasers. That may be so, but thousands more have paid £3 for a return to stripped pine 1970s politics. It’s all a colossal mess.

Roger Ratcliffe has worked as an investigative journalist with the Sunday Times Insight team and is the author of guidebooks to Leeds and Bradford. Follow him on Twitter @Ratcliffe

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