Our free and fearless press has got it into its collective psyche that the Labour Party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn is not about popularity - to admit that would never do - but instead is about cultism. This is serving the right-wing press well at the moment, but this is one of those inventions that does not stand a little analysis.
Even so, the Murdoch poodles at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun have trowelled it on during the last week, with Rod “a smile, a song and a four-pack of Stella” Liddle telling readers “Why the time has come for the Beeb to stop believing in the cult of Jeremy Corbyn”, while condemning the BBC for running stories critical of Murdoch asset Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. Liddle knows all about being a cult.
The paper went further: under the headline “CULT OF JEZ”, it told readers “Cabinet minister labels Labour a ‘cult’ under Jeremy Corbyn”. But you had to read right to the end to find that it was David Gauke who had claimed “The Labour Party is now a cult”.
This was not a view restricted to one paper, as Tim Stanley at the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph demonstrated recently, telling readers “Corbynism has become a weird, ugly cult, and the saddest thing is that it's Labour that's losing out … If Labour is a church, Corbynism looks more and more like a cult. It’s on the hunt for heretics. Pro-Brexit MPs are threatened with deselection”. And there was more.
Even some within Labour were happy to pitch the cult idea, with Margaret Hodge, in her now infamous Sky News interview, concluding “I think it's a bit scary we've got this growth of populism - whether its Trump, whether its Boris Johnson and now whether it's the cult of Corbynism - which allows these sort of attitudes to emerge, and that's what scares me”.
But, as Captain Blackadder might have said, there was only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks. Inventions of disaffected Labour MPs and those cheering them on do not equal fact. Jezza is a genuinely popular leader. But one figure lauded by that same press is not so popular with his own fellow MPs, yet still they praise him.
And that figure is, once again, Bozza, who has been given a free pass by the press for decades, from smearing the people of Liverpool, through lying about his affair with Petronella Wyatt, being sacked from the Times for lying, his multiple instances of blatant racism, lying about the EU for the Telegraph, his wasteful, ineffective and inept eight years as Mayor of London, his complicity in a proposed act of actual bodily harm, his further serial extra-marital shagging, and being our worst Foreign Secretary ever.
Boris Johnson has no discernible political talent whatsoever. He’s a liar, a bully, a thug, he is utterly untrustworthy, yet when he appeared to give the press a firm “no comment”, there they all were, the Fourth Estate’s finest, fawning over him because he’d brought them all a cup of tea. They simper at his feet, yet call Jeremy Corbyn a cult.
Thus the problem with our free and fearless press in a nutshell. Derek and Clive, though, would have had no problem with Bozza. “What a cult” indeed.
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