By Julius Burke-Perrin
It is interesting to note that out of the many factors emanating from Corbyn's seemingly unstoppable rise to Labour leadership, one undoubted truth is the tailspin the right-wing media has entered. The potential of a Leader of Opposition questioning British politics' factually questionable position on austerity is enough to drive some into madness and others into delirium. Whilst the “Tories for Corbyn” campaign began in the Telegraph, the same paper cries wolf almost daily now with headlines such as “Jeremy Corbyn must be stopped” and “Jeremy Corbyn's plan to turn Britain into Zimbabwe”.
It does not end there. The Times have named him the “hard-left candidate” whilst The Sun have dubbed Corbyn a “firebrand pensioner” and “aging Marxist”. The Daily Mail have envisaged a £3 trillion debt and looting on the streets should the backbencher ever seize power. The Express have gone with the line that Corbyn's intention to apologise for the Iraq War is a betrayal of the British troops that died. All in all, a sustained attack fusing vitriol with baseless assumption.
Why has there been such an assault? The fact that five billionaires own 80% of the public media might be a good place to start. The cold truth is this: the very richest control British public opinion through how events in society are reported. The effect of such an unbalance cannot be overstated; Rupert Murdoch, a man with a worth more than £8 billion, can have his interests protected through what he wants his media outlets to say and do. Since the 1980s, no Prime Minister has ever won an election without Murdoch's endorsement, which speaks volumes as to the extent of his grip. The tarnishing of Kinnock's name by the Sun the month before the 1992 election was thought to be instrumental in Major's surprise victory, showing how destructive Murdoch's claws can be. Whatever the Australian wants said or done, can be said or done.
Murdoch represents just one segment of what has been forming in Britain over many years, a “dystocracy” of sorts in which the views of the rich are weighted heavier than the views of the rest. Growing inequality, the sales of public assets to the wealthiest on the cheap, cutting state provision, tax cuts for high earners, demonising the poor in the eyes of the rest and the allowance of tax avoidance by multinational companies are all problems which have survived and thrived under both Labour and Tory governments, in-part down to the need for the media's support to win elections. It is this co-habitation of media barons and politicians that leaves a rancid taste in the throat. The UK ranks 76th on a world list of voter turnouts, not surprising given the lack of engagement with voters and the continuing relationship between the media and elected members of Parliament.
It is Corbyn that dares to challenge the consensus. And accordingly, an attack must be orchestrated. Fear of a mainstream politician disagreeing with mainstay policies in the centre ground, such as low taxes for the highest earners and cuts to public spending, has driven such savage coverage. The attempt to demonise a politician with principles in a field of candidates seemingly lacking them smacks of desperation and fear. Corbyn would not be one to sit and smile for the cameras clasping a copy of The Sun, nor would he allow himself to be cajoled by Dacre, Whittow or any other editor. It is this alignment of action to his principles that makes him both so affable to his admirers and so irritating to his detractors in the press. Should Corbyn become Labour leader as expected, this inherent dislike of a principled left-winger guarantees more media campaigns of hyperbole and terror in times to come.