Jurassic Park has proven to be a metaphor for pretty much every twist and turn within the Labour party over the last year, argues Chris Everett.

A long dead force resurrected by an eccentric, vest wearing old man with a beard, leading to the chaotic downfall and destruction of a once vibrant dream. Yes, silly season has begun?

The greatest motion picture ever made, Spielberg's Jurassic Park (1993), has so far proven to be a metaphor for pretty much every twist and turn within the Labour party over the last year. From the theme that underpins the entire film (man's inability to control wild forces of nature) to the tiniest details (the white vest wearing, bearded leader). I can tell you're sceptical; I shall begin from the start.

It began with an idea. Something long dead (dinosaurs/socialism) that could be successfully resurrected and made anew in the modern age. In the film, it's an exercise in spectacle: "biological attractions so astounding that they'll capture the imagination of the entire planet". And what's Corbyn's politics, with its rallies and absurd policies shunned by the Washington consensus, but spectacle?

On with the story: the island, or in this case, Corbyn's party following his September victory. The sceptical public and PLP have been invited along for an initially bumpy ride. You have a range of characters ? the well-wishing but wary scholars of Labour history (perhaps Alan Johnson and Lucy Powell) take the role of palaeontologists Dr Alan Grant and Dr Ellie Settler; the arrogant but genius "chaotician" Dr Ian Malcolm ? memorably plaid by a hunky Jeff Goldblum in the film ? gets a similarly attractive translation as arch Blairite Chuka Umunna. The "bloodsucking lawyer" is without a doubt Andy Burnham (more on this later).

Seeing Corbyn's experiment for the first time is certainly awe-inspiring ? a seemingly popular mass movement built from the ground up. How could Corbyn do this with a party which, following the consecutive leaderships of Brown and Miliband, found charisma sorely lacking?

"Let me show you", says the old man, who continues to wheel out top new left economist Thomas Piketty, columnist Owen Jones, and demagogue Paul Mason to explain away his ideas and populism to his sceptical guests. You can almost hear Chuka paraphrasing Malcolm: "Your supporters were so preoccupied with whether they could that they didn't stop to think whether they should."

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At this stage I'll introduce the characters of the children, Lex and Tim Murphy, who represent the core Labour membership. This is not to infantilise Labour members or voters ? fans of the film are no doubt aware that Lex and Tim effectively save the day with their quick thinking in the film's climactic scenes. Making the Labour membership the children in this allegory is to convey their trust and desire to see Corbyn's project at work in a less cynical light than the adults ? or here Blairites and internal opposition ? that bashed it from the start.

While Corbyn is initially showing off his new, kinder politics, Labour veteran Alan Johnson is disturbed when he hears he's setting up a new group for his left-wing support base.

"Militant? You bred Militant?"

"Momentum" says Muldoon ? here Hilary Benn ? "And they should all be destroyed."

At first hopeful of Corbyn's harking back to a softer-left, Benn was forever frustrated by Corbyn's refusal to heed his advice ? though he was kept in a top office. Other members of the leadership under Corbyn include Deputy Leader Tom Watson as Dennis Nedry, the treacherous, Hawaiian shirt wearing technical expert supposedly building (but in reality working against) John Hammond's dream; John "Ray" Arnold, the fretful chief engineer depicted by a chain smoking Samuel L. Jackson in the film, is who else but Seumas Milne ? desperately trying to hold it all together among the project's varying internal enemies.

The pieces are positioned and the stage is set: Corbyn invites his guests to observe what happens next.

To be continued?

12 votes

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