It’s not often I agree with Jeremy Vine, but whilst listening to his Radio2 show on 14th Sept I managed to squeeze in a small nod of agreement.
The response in question, m’lud, was to his comment “…I feel, as journalists, we mustn’t (underestimate him) either. There’s this whole thing going on about they can’t win the next election. We’re not part of that; he can win the next election, so let’s start at that point and see what happens…”(32mins 44secs)
Jeremy Vine was talking about the newly, overwhelmingly, appointed Labour leader, and the media’s oddly McCarthy flavoured response to his snowball election. And I agree, wholeheartedly; although my solidarity was marred by the title of Vine’s show that day being ‘Jeremy Corbyn and Robots.’ Followed two days later with ‘PMQs and pig shootings.’
I should point out here I am not a member of the Labour party. I am not a member of any political party. I last voted in 1997. I am, by sad default, deeply suspicious of any mandate from any mouth on any hustings – taking the somewhat unhelpfully sniper position of armchair commentator. And I’m even arrogant enough to admit it, go me. But the Labour leadership has been a soap opera since the Brown Bounce, with the recent Corbyn Christmas Special an especially addictive cliff hanger. And I am, once again, to use the parlance of the day, engaged.
I work in media (dharlings) and so have an eye somewhat focused on the hidden content. My first role in a PR agency was to read three red tops and two broadsheets a day, and write a summary report for my co-workers – identifying the media opportunities for our clients, alongside the bedfellows of the publishing house and the editor’s political/personal predilections. It was an eye opening experience, one that has made me both intensely aware of the shifting public domain and an irritating person to challenge after a pint and half of cider.
But the volley of Red Scare, both during the Labour leadership election and its subsequent shadow cabinet reshuffle (ha, childishly undemocratic exodus) has stumped even me. I mean, I doubt Paul Dacre is on Tom Watson’s Friends & Family but there was, is, such absurdity coming from some UK column inches at the moment it’s difficult to know where to start. So let’s start with Dacre, specifically his Sunday front page on the day before the aforementioned Jeremy Vine show – pictured above; click here or on the thumbnail (right) for the full story.
My favourite line, although it was hard to choose, was ‘…teetotaller celebrated in the pub by singing socialist anthem The Red Flag…’ I bet Simon Walters actually came a little after writing that one.
But the ‘left wing’ media have been just as blindsided, many seeming to opt for the one trick pony approach as opposed to embracing what is, and what is very rare, actual politics. 59.5% of the votes were cast this man; The Guardian followed Corbyn’s first week as Labour leader with a series of often insipid op/ed pieces and tenuous attacks. 453 words went to the following story, titled ‘Jeremy Corbyn’s driver ‘pushed BBC cameramanover”
Read the copy. Watch the clip. Listen to the clip. Look at the picture. Now reread the copy, ringfencing the facts. Really?
So there I am – standing in my kitchen, shaking my head at Dennis Skinner (here’s a list of who the BBC could have asked on, told by The Independent’s own take on objective reporting) agreeing with Jeremy Vine and citing Michael Gove on the Andrew Marr show. Politics makes for strange bedfellows indeed
But 24hours is a long enough time, and with potentially half a decade between us and the next general election there will no doubt be a lot more media nonsense to navigate. The circus continues and the clowns start to cry.
I mean, I even laughed at a quote in the Daily Mail this week (thankfully, for my soul, one first published in The Huffington Post – following a blog post also worth reading) about a Birmingham MP crossing swords with the new shadow Secretary of State for International Development.
“People said to me they had always wanted to say that to her, and I don’t know why they don’t as the opportunity presents itself every other minute.”
A particularly inspired response to reactive press attention; one that (as well as making me laugh out loud) oddly also resonates with me politically. Albeit, again, from the comfort of my armchair, I’ve been shouting “fu*k off” at Diane Abbott for years.
Ed King is Editor of Birmingham Review. Follow him @EdKing2210