Anyone who has glanced at a copy of the Guardian this past week, or the latest issue of the New Statesman, will have found themselves inundated with a wave of opinion pieces arguing against the possible victory of Jeremy Corbyn in the upcoming Labour party leadership election. The spectre of Corbyn has forced the hands of the commentariat, who must now state plainly that anyone who votes for such a leftist candidate is naive, deluded or simply mad. They will have, as Polly Toynbee put it, taken leave of their senses. What was a shadow of discontent during Ed Miliband’s timid efforts at turning left has now become an open and unabashed damnation of socialism and its advocates. There is no left but the hard left, and the only way is forward is to be as “pragmatic” as the Tories.
The have been a couple of constants in the media’s portrayal of Corbyn. First, the assertion that his rhetoric appeals primarily to naive youngsters, the disengaged youth who had given up on politics until Occupy, Syriza or Podemos came along to inspire them back towards the fold. While there is little doubt that Corbyn is the overwhelming favourite of young Labour party members, many of who have joined in the aftermath of this year’s election, his appeal is certainly not limited to those born post-Thatcher. Corbyn’s primary issues – renationalising the railways and the utility companies, taxes on wealth to pay for free third-level education, maintaining the NHS, ending Britain’s nuclear program – are all popular across the board. Even Tories are split on the railways, and the SNP have shown how much support there is for not wasting billions of pounds on nuclear weapons that will never be used. Meanwhile, Ed Milliband’s indecision on the same topic was deadly.
The media’s off-hand dismissal of Corbyn’s support base as passionate but misguided youth also contradicts their claim that Corbyn’s ideas are “out-dated”. One Guardian editorial says that his solutions to social crisis “long pre-date the challenges of the 21st century”, but does little to elucidate any actual issues with those apparently ancient policy positions. This is perhaps the first time that the much sought-after youth vote has been derided as backward, nostalgic and out of touch.