CommonSpace columnist Richard McGinley looks at the uphill battle that Labour’s newly elected leader will have to climb
WHEN I worked in kitchens many years ago – developing a taste for long hours of work and beer – the chef I worked for would hit me over the head with a ladle until I fully understood that it was all about presentation.
“You could dress doggy doo up and someone would eat it,” he would explain.
I’ve realised it wasn’t just the food he was talking about.
This week, after Jeremy Corbyn defeated the odds, well, the media anyway, and rose to become leader of the Labour Party, a petition has been drawn up to ask the BBC to refer to David Cameron as the “right wing Prime Minister”, purely in the interests of fairness, as Corbyn is constantly referred to as the “left wing leader”.
As the descriptions match what each party is supposed to be, that seems fair. Cameron should be pleased to be referred to as such, as it is a mild term compared to some that I can think of to describe him – and don’t get me started on Butcher Duncan Smith and Dizzy Osborne.
“Since the late nineties, every major politician has looked the same, sounded the same, and had the same interest in what the media is saying… Corbyn appears to have little interest in that methodology…”
His policy of government of corporate industry for corporate industry by corporate industry, known commonly as austerity, should have seen, at the very least, a reference to his right of centre actions. But instead he is portrayed as a canny manager who is simply balancing the books.
Incredibly, the BBC, probably down to its fear of privatisation and becoming a commercial channel, continues to pander to Westminster spin, and has joined in the general media view that right wing, the likes of Thatcher and Reagan, is good, and left wing, the likes of Attlee, Bevan and Roosevelt, is bad.
Left wing, however, isn’t associated with the bad guys. It’s a reminder of the bad old days when unions did get too powerful, and the worker management balance was upset, allowing for swift retribution from Thatcher, who hated unions, and put them to the sword. This week, and next, be prepared for the old pictures of bins in the streets and rats in the kitchen as the right wing media goes into overdrive.
“Presentation is all well and good; we are all fickle when it comes to looks and dress sense. But politics is about substance, not style.”
We could play ‘Corbyn Bingo’, where we all write the name of a day down, and when they start to get personal about his appearance – the winner gets PS5. Presentation is all well and good; we are all fickle when it comes to looks and dress sense. But politics is about substance, not style.
Since the late nineties, every major politician has looked the same, sounded the same, and had the same interest in what the media is saying. Party focus groups, opinion polls and newspaper headlines have largely dictated policy.
“Corbyn’s quiet authority had the Prime Minister flustering a little, not so much at what was happening, but at the potential for a major victory further down the line. Cameron’s usual tactic of walking away from a questioner – see any TV sound bite – won’t be allowed in the House.”
Corbyn appears to have little interest in that methodology, and has taken the previously unthinkable step of asking people what they want.
His Prime Minister’s question time appearance this week consisted of questions from real people, and Cameron looked uncomfortable with this idea of consulting the riff raff.
It was a good start. Corbyn’s quiet authority had the Prime Minister flustering a little, not so much at what was happening, but at the potential for a major victory further down the line. Cameron’s usual tactic of walking away from a questioner – see any TV sound bite – won’t be allowed in the House.
I was a little upset that my suggested question, though short and to the point, was ignored – All I wanted to know was why Dave won’t just fuck off.
Still, hope springs eternal.
Corbyn hasn’t had the traditional honeymoon period of a new leader. The press are citing dissension in the ranks, aided by new Liberal leader Tim Farron – I think that’s his name.
Corbyn has a major job ahead of him, fighting on all fronts. For the sake of government of the people by the people for the people, he has to win.
Picture courtesy of Chris Beckett