Virgin said CCTV footage showed Jeremy Corbyn walking past reserved but empty seats in Coach F © Virgin Trains
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Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, has faced mockery after Virgin Trains released film footage which cast doubt on his claims that a train was so crowded he was forced to sit on the floor. The row has crystallised divisions between his opponents and his fanatical supporters, who follow him with messianic fervour.

And so it came to pass that Jeremy and his disciples travelled north from Westminster, out of the land of Nod to meet with the people of Gateshead.

For while Jeremy was mightily popular among ordinary members, his party’s MPs had lost faith, saying he was a false and incompetent prophet who was leading them to electoral doom. And they had raised up a challenger to Jeremy, a man called Owen, who knew how to wear a suit and had not walked with terrorist groups.

And so Jeremy travelled north with a great and righteous fury to explain that he was their chosen leader with a clear mandate to do the job, while Owen had once worked for Pfizer.

But when he boarded the train Jeremy saw that his staff had failed to book him a seat and most space was occupied by those who were not the official leader of the opposition but had still managed to book ahead. With great anger, he wailed, “Oh woe is me; for there is no seat for me.”

“There’s one over there,” said someone, but Jeremy didst not hear. “There is no seat for me and my wife,” he lamented. “You could sit there,” said another, but Jeremy replied: “There is no seat for me and my wife, a cameraman and the national organiser of Momentum, the truest of the true disciples.”

And so Jeremy cast himself out of the carriage and walked among the people seeking a seat for himself and his wife, the cameraman and the national organiser of Momentum. At length they came across some empty seats but the other travellers had placed their bags on the vacant berths and did not seem keen to move them. And, like the bags, Jeremy was unmoved: “Have not these bags the right to sit in comfort?” And they said he was right, because they knew that he saw things they did not and also because he had a bit of a temper.

And as they journeyed through cars they found another carriage that was entirely empty. “Can we not rest here?” asked one. But Jeremy looked at the tags above the seats and said they were all reserved. “But can we not sitteth here if the reserver hath failed to show?” they said. “Dunno,” said Jeremy, “let us keep looking.”

They walked through the carriages, but found no place to rest their weary legs. And Jeremy was mightily miffed, saying: “This is because our railways have been privatised”, and “this is because Richard Branson owns this train”, and “didn’t anyone think of booking a seat?”

“The People’s Jeremy does not book ahead,” said the national organiser of Momentum and all nodded their heads for they did not want to be told they were Tories. “The People’s Jeremy believes in a world where seats are always plentiful,” she said.

Then Jeremy saw an opportunity. “I will sit on the floor and dwell long by the public convenience proving that I am truly a man of the people and you can film me and we will distribute the message on YouTube and the people will rise up against Branson and take back the ownership of our railways.” And so he dwelled in the corridor with other passengers who were not leader of the opposition but who had also not managed to book a seat.

So it came to pass that Jeremy told all how he had to sit on the floor because the train was “ram-packed”. And his team said, “Do you mean jam-packed? Shall we shoot that again?”

And the national organiser of Momentum said: “Question not the word of our leader. For look, this train is indeed packed with ram. Only a Tory would fail to see it.”

But when the mighty Branson saw the video he was much displeased. And he called his staff and said “check the CCTV”. And lo, they found Jeremy walking past empty seats and gave the footage to television companies. And there was much laughing at Jeremy who did not see the humour in it.

Naturally the disciples of the People’s Jeremy insisted he was telling the truth, while those who disliked him sided with the blessed Virgin. But all agreed that a man who aspires to run the country ought to be able to book himself a seat on a train.

robert.shrimsley@ft.com

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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