If you go by traditional media at least, things aren’t looking so good for Jeremy Corbyn, left wing leader of the Opposition Labour Party, in the election due to be held in Britain on June 8 next. Corbyn and Labour have been well behind in the opinion polls since long before the election started.
Now, things can often change in the course of a campaign. Favourites start to falter in the white heat of battle and circumstance, just look at Hillary, but nothing like that is ever going to happen if traditional media in the UK has anything to do with it.
To a man and woman, with the exception of The Mirror and The Guardian, all national British newspapers are staunchly, rabidly, frothing at the mouthingly pro-Tory. This has been an accepted fact for decades, so accepted that said newspapers don’t even bother pretending any more, apart from a brief flirtation with Tony Blair at a time when Labour were basically Tory-lite.
Indeed, this lack of pretence might be said to be a good thing, no more false promises of objectivity, and the power of print media, let’s face it, wanes a little more every single day.
But the extent to which the British media has been colluding since day one in a concerted effort to stitch up the snap election called by UK Prime Minister Teresa May for the Tories must surely give pause to some of those who still entertain the notion that they live in a democracy.
Even the venerable, supposedly truth telling BBC has been swept up in the tsunami of Corbyn ridicule. Can it possibly have been an accident that BBC Radio 4’s main morning news programme – broadcast just after the launch of Labour’s official election manifesto – also featured extensive references to a story about “a snail called Jeremy,” with frequent updates such as “it appears that Jeremy the snail has bitten his owner. Oh dear, I didn’t know that snails could bite.”
All this was interspersed with another news item quoting a trade union boss and supposed ally of Corbyn as saying that the best Labour could hope from this election was to hold on to around 200 seats, in reality a catastrophic defeat. There’s nothing more likely to persuade potential supporters of a candidate not to come out than constant references to his lack of a winning chance.
Shortly after this election was called, I remember thinking it might not be the slam dunk everyone in the pro-Tory media was frantically predicting. Whatever people might feel about Corbyn as a candidate, he is one of the few putative leaders in Western Europe who actually stands for a different way of doing things. I thought that the more Corbyn got to talk about the kind of society he wanted, the more the result might cease to resemble the hoped for stitch up.
But I couldn’t predict how even the pretence of balance would be abandoned by ‘respectable’ organisations like the BBC.
It all reminds me of a story I heard years ago about the one time veteran President of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda. The bould Kenneth was running for, God knows, an eleventh term or something, but this wasn’t one of those one party charades.
Oh no, there were genuine opposition parties who had nothing to do with the President and were genuinely trying to win the office from him.
The only problem was this, a lot of people – particularly in rural Zambia – weren’t able to read, so the Government came up with a clever visual code to help them make the right choice. The box where you could cast your vote for Kenneth was emblazoned with a soaring eagle, the symbol of the nation, while the boxes where you could vote for the opposition were decorated with pictures of rats, snails, snakes and the like.
Sound familiar? Of course the UK is so much more sophisticated than those people down in Zambia, isn’t it?