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The relentless momentum of Corbynism displayed during the 2017 General Election campaign has all but dissipated, Labour’s opposition to the Conservatives is lackluster at best, and most notably of all; Jeremy Corbyn is wholly unelectable… or this is what the press would have us believe.
Nigel Farage, the election of Donald Trump, Brexit, the rise of Marine Le Pen; The media have dressed these events up as shock results, freak one-offs that no one could have predicted. The fact is these results were all totally predictable. In fact, in hindsight, they make total sense. These events emphasize the rising support for populism and illustrate a western society turning its back on the ‘establishment’. In these instances, the electorate were systematically turning away from the traditional status-quo, seeking non-orthodox, populist figures to take its place. The British media have eluded to these sequential events, and are thus terrified as Jeremy Corbyn; a populist, anti-status quo leader and antithesis of mainstream media, is pitted against the epitome of the establishment; Theresa May.
The media’s opposition to the Labour Party is not a new phenomenon, historically speaking the British media has always favoured the pro-establishment Conservative Party, with Tony Blair the only Labour candidate accepted by the Murdoch Media. In recent years, however, increasing disparity between the socialist principled Labour Party and the institutionalized Conservative party has only heightened political bias. This polarized political environment has more often than not led media outlets having to pick sides. Even the trusted BBC sought to reform its organization, becoming a pro-business, elitist embodiment of Neo-Liberalism. The UK media industry is one of the most concentrated in the world; three companies are in control of 71 percent of national newspaper circulation, five companies are in command of 81 percent of local newspaper titles and ownership amongst media outlets is becoming increasingly privatized. Jeremy Corbyn, a champion of the free-press with an anti-monopoly agenda, thus presents a threat to the media industry and the moguls behind them.
During the 2017 General Election campaign, Loughborough University studied the media’s coverage of the various political parties’. Of the top 21 politicians covered in the news; nine were Conservative, as opposed to only six Labour. In the printed press, the Conservatives were covered 9.6 percent more than Labour, and on electronic media, the Conservatives were covered 2.6 percent more. The Independent found that 75 percent of press coverage ‘misrepresents Jeremy Corbyn,’ and shockingly 15-20 percent of Corbyn-related media in the Daily Telegraph, Daily Express, and The Sun links him with either the IRA, Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and/or terrorism in general. Such shocking headlines regarding Corbyn included "Jeremy Corbyn Cancels Christmas," (Daily Telegraph), "Corbyn’s ISIS past revealed," (The Sun), and "Apologist for Terror," (Daily Mail). It’s furthermore important to understand that it’s not solely right-wing newspapers attacking the Labour leader; even the supposedly impartial BBC decided to photoshop Corbyn’s hat to make him look more Russian during a Newsnight debate
The truth is, since Corbyn’s election to the Labour leadership, the press have been consistently feeding us their meta-narrative; that it’s impossible for Jeremy Corbyn to win a General Election, thus support is essentially pointless. This, however, couldn’t be further from the truth, as the empirical facts prove. The Labour Party currently have 522,000 members and rising, as opposed to the slowly depleting Conservatives 124,000 members. In fact, in Jeremy Corbyn’s first year as Labour leader, membership rose by 156,000 members; more than the entirety of the Conservative Party.
The rising swathe of Labour membership under Corbyn is intensified by the dwindling support for the Conservative party, a support that is quite literally dying out. The two age grouping’s where the Conservatives have a majority (over 50 percent) of public support are the 60-69 age group, of which 58 percent support the Conservatives, and the 70+ age group, of which 69 percent support the Conservatives. On the other hand, Corbyn’s Labour dictates the majority of public support in three age groups, the 18-19 grouping (66 percent), the 20-24 grouping (62 percent), and the 25-29 grouping (63 percent).
There is a media backed misconception that Corbyn’s General Election triumph was predominantly down to the support of the often unreliable ‘younger generation’, again insinuating that the result was a freak accident that couldn’t be repeated. The fact is, however, through manifesto promises of nationalization, job security, and commitment to declining industries, Corbyn has built an unassailable collation between public sector young professionals and the new working class. This coalition will undoubtedly be paramount to his campaign. The obvious argument against Corbyn’s policies is that they alienate the rural White-working classes, a grouping that Labour has so often appealed to. However, Theresa May has done little to win this group over, with Conservative support in these regions surely peaking at the last General Election.
Though the press lead us to believe that so-called Corbyn-Mania was a one-off for the General Election, this year’s local elections wholly disprove this. During the 2018 local elections, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party won 77 seats, taking the Labour total to 2,350 local councilors, as opposed to the Conservative Party who lost 33 seats taking their total of local councilors to 1,332. Despite these empirical election results, the press reported the election as a Conservative victory, with headlines such as "Election result that left May beaming," (ITV News), "Corbyn’s time is up," (Daily Express), and "Jeremy Corbyn will never be Prime Minister." (The Sun).
One political group that emphasizes the growing long-term support for Corbynism is Momentum; a group that coincidentally is all but ignored by the press. Momentum is a grassroots, highly accessible political organization that support Corbynism. The group is only two years old however have 40,000 members, 170 meeting groups, and within two years it’s expected the organization will have more members than the entirety of the Conservative Party. Some of Labour’s success in the 2017 General Election can undoubtedly be attributed to the Momentum; the group's Facebook page reached 23.7 million views, with the groups' videos being watched by 12.7 million unique users. All of this success was achieved with a mere £2,000 advertising budget, as opposed to the Conservative Party’s £16.7 million advertising budget.
The media’s increasing de-legitimization of Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t reflect Corbyn’s incompetence, only the increasing despair of a Neo-Liberal press fundamentally opposed to necessary change. Jeremy Corbyn represents a change to the discriminatory, elitist, Oxbridge dominated politics of the UK, and thus the institutions that thrive off monopolization and exploitation will do everything in their power to stop him. These media attacks don’t evidence Jeremy Corbyn’s failings, only the deep-rooted institutionalized prejudice in British society.