Oh yeah, the blog.
I’ve been meaning to update this for a while but I’ve been unexpectedly busy lately. This’ll be a short one I think, might try and do summat longer over the weekend if I get the chance. Trying to think of some non-politics stuff to write about as well. Anyway…
So, Corbyn won! And I for one welcome our new, unelectable, socialist overlords. The first three days have been…well, tricky but come on, it could have been so much worse. I’ve seen the shadow cabinet formation described as ‘chaotic’ – and certainly it wasn’t perfect – but the MPs who refused to serve were all fairly predictable. There wasn’t a ‘shock’ refusal to stir things up (although, to be fair, there were so few MPs behind Corbyn it’s probably only McDonnell who could have refused and been a genuine surprise) The complaints about the lack of females in the ‘top’ jobs are…well, I don’t entirely disagree but I do think the circumstances offer some excuse.
Attention has turned to his handling of the press. Specifically, the notion that it’s unusual that Corbyn has been pretty much ignoring the mainstream media. No big interview on the Andrew Marr show, no big piece in the Guardian, no turning up on ‘Today’ to be talked over and cut off prematurely. A few things I’ve read seem to think this is a terrible mistake and that the Corbyn camp are being naive about media relations.
Now, something struck me about this today.
Bob Dylan gives – roughly – one big interview each year, usually to tie in with whatever new ‘product’ he’s offering – be it an album, a book or some metal gates he’s welded (yes,really). Because I am a borderline obsessive I read them all. They almost always start by noting how rare it is that he agrees to an interview and I think ‘It’s not that rare those is it? He does – roughly – one big interview each year, usually to tie in with…’ You get the picture.
(Bob Dylan, I note, is a slightly grumpy old bloke who appears to reject all the expected behaviour of his profession and who achieved something of a late-period boom in popularity having been roundly dismissed as a relic from the past.)
I mention this because these interviews always seem far more significant than they are. They’re presented as rare – and therefore noteworthy.
Now, no politician can do that – they’re not ‘promoting’ a one-off product for one thing – and I’m not suggesting Corbyn is.
However, I’ve just been listening to a chap on the radio opining that Corbyn should realise the mainstream media is essential to him getting his message across and that, while the right-wing press will be predictably hostile, he would get a fair hearing from the BBC etc.
I’d suggest that it is unlikely this has never occurred to Corbyn.
The Labour Leadership contest got a ridiculous level of media saturation and the one thing EVERYBODY knows is that Jeremy Corbyn is very, very Left-Wing. The public are not crying out to know ‘just what is Jeremy Corbyn like?’ If they’re remotely interested (and, truth be told, not many are) the public pretty much know what he’s like, what he stands for etc.
The right-wing, and even the slightly left-wing press are bound to be hostile. The first week was always going to bill filled with FEAR and DOOM and FEVERED SPECULATION. May as well let them get it over with. At some point, while they won’t change their minds, they’ll have to turn their attention elsewhere. It’s ‘news’, it has to have some novelty, they can’t put him on the front page forever. Eventually, he’ll still be demonised, but demonised in a couple of paragraphs rather than a front page and pull-out supplement.
And then, in a couple of weeks maybe, do an interview. For one thing, it’ll be newsworthy in itself – not something that can be said for many interviews with politicians. People might even pay attention to it. It’ll certainly have a bit more room to breathe with a bit of distance from the actual ‘winning the leadership’ stuff. With the cabinet settled, he’ll have a better idea of what the consensus opinion is – there’s little point him stating a position today and having it challenged by, say, Maria Eagle tomorrow.
In the meantime, making a big show of ignoring the media sends out it’s own message. It looks, well sort of fearless – to the point of lunacy perhaps but still.
Michael Crick reckons putting your hand over the lens of a camera is ‘on of the biggest mistakes in politics’ – true perhaps, I wonder if meekly holding up a copy of a newspaper that hates you with a stupid, rictus grin on your face is any better though? Ed eventually did some good work taking on the Murdoch press it’s true. But by appearing hurt by their attacks, or even acknowledging them maybe he looked a little…scared? And therefore maybe not as confident? And isn’t that meant to be why people thought he’d be rubbish?
And I’m fairly sure the media are overestimating how much people care. I’m not sure people care that much if someone is rude to a journalist. I’m not sure that much of the population cares that much about the Labour leader.
Not to mention that IT’S ONLY BEEN THREE DAYS! THREE DAYS. I THINK EVEN I, WHO ACTUALLY LIKE THE BLOKE AND VOTED FOR HIM, CAN LIVE WITHOUT HEARING FROM HIM FOR THREE BLOODY DAYS.
(EDIT: I do think there are certain things being mishandled – or at least things that could be better clarified – but I think this can be put down to not having put together a proper ‘team’ yet which is probably an even better reason for generally keeping schtum for now)
Now this is just speculation on my part. I have no media training. It’s entirely possible that it’s a terrible strategy. But I can’t quite believe that someone who’s been in politics for 30-odd years is entirely naive. I think these choices, right or wrong, might well be deliberate.
Anyway, it’s quite possible I’m being a complete Pollyanna about all this and maybe this is just the beginning of the disastrous path we were all warned about. But, sod it, there’ll be plenty of time to be miserable. Let’s at least take a moment to consider this:
The Left actually won something.