Is there something about Corbyn that makes him especially attractive to certain sections of the press?

The Ex you can’t forget

So you’ve been dumped. You’d been telling your friends for a long time that you wanted them out, but now that it’s actually over you feel lost. You’ve even got yourself a rebound but it just doesn’t feel the same.

You find yourself badmouthing them to your friends and even going as far as writing scornful things about them on Twitter. No matter what you do you can’t help but stalk them online, watching them seem happier and more relaxed without you.

Your friends are getting worried, seeing you tweet about them day after day, ignoring the people still in your life. It’s time for an intervention, for some break-up advice.

It’s time for the right-wing press to get over Jeremy Corbyn.

Google loves Corbyn

If you Google ‘Jeremy Corbyn’ in the ‘news’ search bar you will find around 10-14 articles written within the last 48 hours, all from national newspapers. If on the other hand you wanted to check up on how Theresa May is doing in her post-prime ministerial life, you might find one or two articles (if you’re lucky) from the past week and the rest will probably be from months ago. Kind of sad really. You’d think she deserves at least a few scathing articles a week, even if they are just from Farmers Weekly who have yet to forgive her for promoting crop damage as a pastime.

Well, you might say, Corbyn is more recent, more raw than Theresa May. Alright. But then the current leader of the Labour Party is certainly more recent. Pop ‘Keir Starmer‘ into the search bar right now and you will find less results from the last 48 hours than you would on Corbyn, and around half of those headlines would include Corbyn’s name. It’s a bit like posting a photo of you and your new partner on Instagram and then tagging your ex in it just so they know that you’re definitely over them — and not trying to get their attention whatsoever … .

What is less surprising is that the majority of these headlines are coming from traditionally right-wing press. If you go to the Telegraph page on the Labour Party, you’ll find no less than seven articles directly about Corbyn, making up around one-third of recent posts on Labour’s dedicated page. Articles directly referencing Keir Starmer in the headline are a mere two, one of which also references Corbyn. Even in this honeymoon period they can’t help but slip his name into the conversation.

Now I’m not a statistician (that’s a hard word to say), but I think there’s a disproportionate amount of journalists talking about Corbyn compared not just to previous leaders, but to current leaders. Can I prove this scientifically? No. But can you also prove that your partner isn’t thinking about their ex when you’re in bed together? Also no.

Life beyond Corbyn

Well I’ve searched long and hard on the internet for advice on how to get over someone, and after much research I clicked on the second Google search result.

I found a life advice expert, though I’m still trying to figure out how someone gets that qualification. Surely that can only be given out on someone’s death bed — how are you supposed to know if you finessed life until it’s finished?

Anyway, the article says that one reason we find it so hard to get over someone is because ‘relationships form the basis of meaning in our lives’. This makes sense actually. For some political voices it seems like they’ve based the last five years of their career on Corbyn. 

What makes less sense is why they haven’t found new meaning in their new relationships, both with Starmer and Johnson. After all, our life advice expert says ‘getting over someone requires new sources of meaning’. So why aren’t the new people filling that hole in their hearts left by the surprisingly-well-toned-for-a-71-year-old former Labour leader?

The situation is what you might find post messy breakup; you feel a bit bitter and jealous when you see your ex moving on without you. So, one night at a gathering with friends you have a few too many Tesco’s basic Lagers, because let’s face it you’ve even let your drinking standards slip recently, and you start badmouthing your ex. 

They’re happy without you, so you resort to tarnishing their reputation to try and tear them down. They’ve stopped paying attention to you so, like a toddler who’s making a scene in a supermarket aisle because mummy chose the shop’s own-brand Coco Pops rather than the real thing, you throw your toys out the pram in a desperate attempt at retaliation.

Why the trash talk?

But why are the right-wing press so keen on ruining Corbyn’s name? One well-known reason why people speak badly of their exes is to put other potential people off them — a case of: If I can’t have them, no one can!

Perhaps these journalists and politicians want to stop people from being ‘attracted’ to Corbyn, or at least the manifesto and principles for which he stood. Polls during the 2017 and 2019 general elections show that many of Corbyn’s policies, particularly the economic ones, were extremely popular with the British public. These policies however were about as popular as a fart in an elevator with the right-wing press and politicians.

If these pundits saturate our papers and newsfeeds with Corbyn’s flaws and failures, then maybe we’ll start to connect his ideas with his personal failures. ‘Corbynism is dead!’ they declare. And so, the interests of the rich and powerful that they represent remain safe and unchallenged. Wealth and power do not need to be shared more equally in a society that doesn’t have an alternative ideology.

Another reason people sometimes focus too much on their past partners is to distract themselves from their current relationship. Who amongst us isn’t guilty of making comparisons? When things aren’t going too well we can always tell ourselves that they were worse before. This way, we think best of now. Kind of like how we’re trying to make ourselves feel better about the current crisis by saying, ‘well at least we can now get our meals half price!’

A convenient distraction

By putting so much focus on Corbyn, who is essentially powerless in UK politics in terms of direct influence, the press distract us from how badly this government is handling the crisis. If I had a pound for every tweet from a pundit or article that said something along the lines of ‘imagine if Corbyn were in charge’, whilst quoting a horrible statistic about how things actually are under this government, then I’d probably have an amount equivalent to the sum they washed away in private contracts during the pandemic.

Don’t these people have enough going on in their new relationships with the Prime Minister and leader of the opposition? We’re in the middle of a global crisis, with the sharpest decrease in GDP since GDP was a thing and come second in terms of Covid-19 deaths in the whole of Europe after Belgium. Yet a sizeable and very vocal portion of our media are too busy reminiscing about someone who used to be leader of the opposition and someone who never held a leadership position in government.

This strange relationship isn’t just unhealthy for those pundits who spend everyday with Corbyn living in their head rent free, but also for us, the British public! We have a media class who are largely completely distracted from their actual job — scrutinising the government, instead of some old man who spends his weekends tending to his allotment.

From now on, every time you see an article with Corbyn’s name dragged across the headlines just remember it’s compensation for failure in the current leadership. At this point it’s basically Newton’s fourth law: for every Corbyn headline, there is a greater Johnson failure.

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