As the Labour leadership contest draws to a close and voting ends, it is clear that Jeremy Corbyn is likely to be re-elected on Saturday. This is somewhat remarkable, as the dominating right wing media have been consistently and often cruelly determined to destroy his popularity.
This is, in many ways, entirely unsurprising. The owners of The Sun and The Daily Mail, Murdoch and Rothermere, have a vested interest in the prevention of a socialist leader wishing to dismantle monopolies such as theirs. This may have little effect in the leadership contest itself, as Labour members are likely to take the vitriol of notoriously right wing papers with at least a pinch of salt. However, the unrelenting opposition to all of Corbyn’s actions in the mainstream media has caused a pervading sense of distrust of him and his supporters. ‘Jeremy Corbyn’ has become almost synonymous with ‘unelectable’ for many people, and this is exactly what the right wing press has been aiming for. Even those who support Corbyn’s policies are questioning their allegiance to him, as they are being convinced of his inevitable failure, despite polls and Labour members proving otherwise.
The tabloids have chosen the most petty and gossip provoking headlines they can think of to take down Corbyn, often totally irrelevant to his politics or suitability as a leader, and this has been the case since the start of his leadership. After Remembrance Day 2015, The Sun ran a front page story about the angle of Corbyn’s bow. They branded him as ‘disrespectful’, whilst happily including an objectifying image of a half-naked woman alongside their reporting of the day’s events. When searching Corbyn’s name on The Sun or The Daily Mail, the pages which appear are scattered with phrases such as ‘nasty’, ‘a bit thick’, ‘unelectable’ ‘hypocrite’ and ‘Nazi’. Both these pages choose their headlines and wording tactically, creating a negative association with Corbyn in their readers.
It is true that some of these headlines are laughable, (‘Jeremy Corbyn makes bizarre pledge to NATIONALISE the Great British Bake Off (but doesn’t he think sugar is evil?)’ reads like the Daily Mail parodying itself) but when put together they reveal a more sinister picture. The right wing press have no interest in informing their readers on the advantages and disadvantages of Corbyn’s leadership, but instead regularly feed them bitesize pieces of sensational and often unfounded criticism, leading not only to a biased British public, but also a misinformed one.
This is not to say that there are not genuine criticisms of Corbyn to be made; there are many flaws in his leadership and campaign that are much more relevant and worth pointing out. The misogynistic online abuse many female MPs have received from Corbyn supporters, with little response from Corbyn himself has been shocking. Data Protection issues have also arisen within Momentum and are incredibly disconcerting.
These are real issues which require considered and sensitive reporting, but the ammunition used against Corbyn over the course of his leadership, and increasingly during its contest, has been anything but. The legitimate and pressing problems with Corbyn as a leader have been neglected by the right wing press. Instead of creating a reasonable and important debate around Corbyn, they have used their power to tear him down, launching a hate campaign centred on humiliation and sensationalism.
Image: Garry Knight