Anyone who has read the news recently, either online or in print, will most likely have been met with a flood of headlines attacking Jeremy Corbyn, the incumbent Labour Party leader, for his apparent ‘unelectability’. The mainstream media at the moment instead favours Owen Smith, Labour MP for Pontypridd, for the leadership. However, those willing to look beyond the headlines will discover that the Labour leadership contest is not as clear cut as the mainstream media make out. And soon they will begin to question whether Jeremy Corbyn really is as unelectable as is argued.
Jeremy Corbyn has been the leader of the Labour Party since September 2015, elected by party members with the largest majority of any Labour leader in history. Under his leadership, there has been an increase in party membership of approximately 300,000 people. Yet there are many who accuse Corbyn of dragging the Labour Party down, including his leadership opponent, who accused Corbyn of ensuring that Labour would stay out of power for a generation, in a recent BBC Question Time debate. However, such accusations seem to ignore the strong support that Corbyn holds at the grassroots level of the party.
Those critics who do take this into account dismiss such support as that of young people on the extreme left of the political spectrum, disaffected with the political system. But should this not be an indicator of Corbyn’s strength as leader? This is grassroots support for a leader of a party that begin at grassroots, through the trade unions. A move away from this, to Owen Smith’s ‘soft left’, in an attempt to gain power, would surely be a betrayal of Labour’s origins. The consequences of such a compromise can arguably be seen in New Labour under Tony Blair, who in his efforts to make the party more electable, brought into further right than its founding fathers would ever have wanted. Indeed, does Corbyn’s strength as leader of the opposition lie in moving the so-called ‘Overton Window’, the range of ideas that the public are willing to accept, further to the left? In his constant hounding of the Conservative government with his principles of democratic socialism, does Corbyn make ideas that were once considered too ‘lefty’, such as unilateral disarmament, now seem a real and genuine possibility?
Yet despite this, the mainstream media continues to attack both Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, both in and out of Parliament. Indeed, in a recent article, The Independent, an apparently liberal newspaper, stated that ‘Jeremy Corbyn supporters tend to be depressed vegetarians’. The mainstream media, as mentioned previously, has also attacked Corbyn’s support base for being entirely made up of young, hard-left voters. Yet a YouGov poll from August 2016 in fact shows that Corbyn has more support in the 40-59 age bracket, than it does in the 18-24 bracket. The same poll, of 1,248 Labour Party members, also reveals that 62% intend to vote for Corbyn in the current leadership elections, whilst only 38% intend to vote for Owen Smith. This inherently challenges current media bias, skewed in favour of Owen Smith, who proposes a more centrist Labour Party, and against Corbyn, whose democratic socialist principles put him on the far left of the party.
This fundamentally shows that you should not take the word of the mainstream media as truth, and should instead use statistics, but perhaps more importantly logic, when forming an opinion on politics.