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Thursday, September 17, 2015 

I bring you the future.

Apart from Nick Cohen's resignation from the left, having finally decided with the victory of Jeremy Corbyn that we're all a bunch of clerical fascist appeasers beyond any redemption, this week's Spectator also has a diary from Chris Mullin.  

In the middle of last week he was commissioned by the Sunday Times to write in the region of 3,000 words on the first 100 days of a Jeremy Corbyn premiership, which he duly did.  Strangely, despite commissioning it and the editor being enthusiastic about the first 700 words, Mullin was then told on the Saturday the paper wouldn't be using it after all.  The piece, snapped up instead by the Graun and printed on Tuesday, was presumably just that little bit close to the knuckle for the Sunset Times.  Rather than depicting a disaster, Corbyn proves rather a success, with Rupert Murdoch being called into Downing Street and a deal struck whereby the modern day Methusaleh places his papers into a trust in exchange for full control of Sky.  Even the newly crowned King Charles is rather pleased by his second prime minister, having been secretly corresponding with him for some time.

A fantasy, and yet apparently too much of one for the paper to countenance.  It's with this in mind that the media's wider coverage of Corbyn's first week as Labour leader should be viewed, as it helps explain precisely why regardless of how badly or how well Our Jez did he would have been slaughtered anyway.  Or you could just look at the Sun's front pages from Tuesday and Wednesday.  On Tuesday the paper splashed on how much of a hypocrite Corbyn was for agreeing to join the privy council, the ceremony requiring the ardent republican to kiss Queenie's hand.  The story was complete bollocks, but don't mind that.  On Wednesday, after almost the entire journalistic establishment deemed itself shocked and scandalised by said republican and atheist declining to even mime along to God Save the Queen, the Sun chose to go with "NATIONAL ANTHEM OUTRAGE" as "CORB SNUBS THE QUEEN".

Had Corbyn sang, it's glaringly apparent the same line in alleged hypocrisy would have been pursued for a second day, although perhaps on the inside pages instead.  We're not just dealing with the gutter rags here though, the nonsense was everywhere.  Newsnight invited on George Monbiot and Jenni Russell to debate this important issue, while the Graun has ran at least three pieces on it.  The Times being the Times had Baron Finkelstein of Pinner, ennobled for services to the Conservative party, mentioning the name of just about every terrorist organisation and dictator in recent history alongside Jezza's name.  Opposite Finkelstein's column was Oliver Kamm implying the mere possibility that Corbyn might wear a white poppy as well as or maybe instead of a red one at the Cenotaph in November would be an act of Nazi sympathising.  Tim Stanley of the Torygraph meanwhile, a paper which the day before had described John McDonnell as a "nutjob", tweeted Corbyn to ask if he would be "dressing more respectfully" come then, having failed to do his top button up for the Battle of Britain ceremony.

Even the slightly more sensible, saying it was an obvious trap Corbyn shouldn't have fallen into and that his media strategy so far has been non-existent are missing the point.  If the media had wanted to make this about Corbyn's unsteadiness and poor initial performance, they could have done so.  Instead they leapt immediately on the admittedly cack-handed but understandable releasing of the names of his first few shadow cabinet appointments, all men, as though this proved that "brocialism" was descending.  That all the remaining major offices of state went to women and there was a higher percentage of women overall in the shadow cabinet than even under feminist t-shirt wearer Harriet Harman didn't matter.  The media, as so often, wanted to make this about them.  Pulling out of the Andrew Marr show to attend a mental health gala, without so much as taking a camera or press crew with him?  Sheer idiocy!  Refusing to deal with newspapers that have already called him every name under the sun on the off chance they might one day say something nice about him?  He can't go on like this, refusing to play the game by our rules!

Nor does it matter it says something really quite extraordinary about the media in 2015 that they, if no one else, still believe our social betters must be respected at all times, including by people that have been elected to a position of authority rather than born into it.  But wait, it's not about Liz or royalty, it's actually about honouring the "few".  Wouldn't they have wanted the Labour leader to sing out the anthem of the country they fought for?  Plenty perhaps would, and yet plenty of others might equally have believed they were battling the Luftwaffe for the freedom not to sing the anthem, and in turn for the opportunity to vote for a leader of a political party to represent those views.  If nothing else, it would be nice if Corbyn's silence at least opened up a debate about what a execrable dirge God Save is regardless of its sentiments; would anyone seriously have the same problem with belting out Jerusalem, regardless of religious connotations?

Except Jeremy from now on we're assured will sing the anthem, although as shown by the frankly hilarious interview with Laura Kuenssberg, he's still not keen on going down on bended knee before Brenda.  Who would be, other than those taught almost from the moment they're born to follow protocol at all times and without question?  In supposedly post-deferential Britain, this is what has been blown up to be the major issue, and then often the very same people act as though they can't understand why anyone would vote for a bearded leftie who wants to do things differently.  Except of course most of them understand all too well, they just carry on regardless.

No one can realistically say that Corbyn's first week has been a triumph.  It hasn't by any stretch of the imagination.  At best, you could call it idiosyncratic.  Almost nothing that has gone on can possibly continue in the way it has, from the open differences of opinion with his shadow ministers, the decent but doomed to failure crowdsourcing of questions from the public to ask Cameron, the tripping over his words, rambling for too long, the complete failure to prepare whatsoever for interviews, and so forth.  All of that will inevitably be tightened up, and yet much of it will have been precisely what appealed to some voters more than anything else.  He's not David Cameron, not the other three defeated candidates.  He's not politics as usual, he's a sort of Boris, a sort of Nigel, although whether voters truly warm to him in the same way as plenty have those two remains to be seen.  If not him, then frankly someone like him but without the same politics and past could be the future.  That's something us all, media and piss-takers alike, might have to get used to.

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