Whether or not Jeremy Corbyn should have sung the national anthem at yesterday’s Battle of Britain remembrance service, by keeping quiet he has handed his opponents a massive stick with which to beat him. Today’s coverage in the papers is dominated by accusations of disloyalty – something Corbyn’s supporters on twitter have picked up somewhat self-righteously.
Well, yes, they certainly should be talking about other things:
But JC has given them the perfect opportunity not to bother with that but to make hay elsewhere. He needs, he desperately needs, someone competent to be running his comms operation. The slurs, the innuendo and the self-inflicted wounds will stick to him right through his leadership (which currently looks as though it will be nasty, brutish and very, very short).
There’s a difference between the soulless spin of machine politics and a principled attempt to get your message out clearly to people who need to hear it. Corbyn is now – unfairly but probably indelibly – fixed in the public’s eye as a loony lefty who hates the Queen and won’t even do his top button up to support our most iconic national heroes. Early images stick – ask William Hague, whose leadership never shook off the Tory-boy images of himself in a baseball cap riding the log flumes at Alton Towers; or Ed Miliband still fighting the “brother-betrayer/ back-stabber” slurs five years after his own leadership win.
JC can hold the high moral ground of unspun purity, or he can sink beneath the waves. William Hague has written a column for today’s Telegraph about the perils Corbyn faces. It’s headed There are countless sworn assassins waiting to knife Jeremy Corbyn in the back , there certainly are. And at the moment he’s playing right into their hands.