I knew that I would be writing a piece about the media response to Jeremy Corbyn’s “performance” at the remembrance service since the day he was elected as leader. I use the word “performance” because as recent events have demonstrated, that is exactly what the remembrance service is all about nowadays. Never mind falling silent to remember the sacrifice made by our brave servicemen and women, this annual event has become a source of exploitation, for “gotcha” headlines and political pantomime. To be quite honest, it is absolutely sickening.
I have been struggling to collect my thought on the Sun’s frontpage splash that I first witnessed last night. It is important to remember a few factual points before assessing what it means. It has been rubbished as a lie by camera recordings and eyewitness accounts from both members of the media – some previously hostile to the Labour leader – and veterans themselves. The image it attempts to portray of Jeremy is then also rubbished by two facts. First, he did not attend the VIP state dinner with the Prime Minister, and instead he boycotted it and stayed to welcome veterans from the parade and to personally thank them. Second, he later took part in his local constituency service, as he has done every year, and honoured the fallen gracefully with a poem written by a soldier explaining the futility of war.
While the Sun wish you to believe that Jeremy is a Britain-hating, soldier-hating leader, the facts above explain otherwise. So you can excuse me for using a few highly charged words when I first saw the frontpage last night. At first, I thought it was a mock-up that someone had created in light of the ludicrous “did he bow or did he not bow” argument. Then, when I realised it was real I simply despaired. Forgetting the emotional burden this will have placed on Jeremy himself, who, after all, is only human, the Sun is sending a message to the rest of the world that is dishonest at best and damaging, pathetic and disgraceful at worst. I am sure Jeremy was thinking of all the war fallen when he stood at the Cenotaph, but I would suggest that in the forefront of his mind were his own parents; his mother, was an air raid warden, and his father, a member of the home guard. It is ridiculous to argue that he did not pay his respects appropriately, but then again, why should we expect any different from media outlets with political agendas?
Underneath this however, is something very important. Yes, today, the Sun made many of us very, very angry. It used valuable space for this kind of smear that could instead have been given to properly honouring the war fallen or editorials supporting homeless veterans or those servicemen and women who are set to lose thousands of pounds under the Tory work penalty. But of course it didn’t, because that is not what the paper wants to achieve. It is part of the establishment, which wishes to cement Tory rule as long as it serves the interest of its owner, Rupert Murdoch. While it sickened me, what the Sun actually announced today is that there is a rather good chance that Jeremy will one day be prime minister. As Murdoch commentators continue to litter the opinion pages of his numerous papers arguing that Jeremy is an unelectable leader, the editorial board continue to issue these very prominent, and false, warnings about the Labour leader.
The reason they are doing so? Because they are absolutely terrified. Yesterday, Corbyn remembered the war fallen, and any sensible adult, or even, three year old child, would report so. The Sun didn’t, because to do so, would have legitimised his position as a principled, decent human being with radical ideas that would make Britain a whole lot more equal. If Jeremy was ever given the opportunity to do so, ask yourself whom it would hurt most and then realise why they are so determined to destroy Jeremy Corbyn.