Corbyn’s visit to Leeds: the speech that dismantled mainstream media rhetoric

In addressing masses and masses of people in Leeds on Monday, Jeremy Corbyn completely dismantled all pre-existing Tory rhetoric of him as a man who, firstly, cannot unite his party, and secondly, conveys nothing but weak leadership. An estimated three to four thousand people gathered outside Brudenell Social Club; some went to the lengths of climbing trees to catch a glimpse. Inevitably, the student population materialised in strong numbers, though they were matched by people of all ages. I even caught sight of a small child on their father’s shoulders, holding a banner embellished with the powerful slogan: “For the many, not the few”. The cries of the media never felt so far away.

Prior to Corbyn’s speech on Monday, I had friends who were unconvinced. Adamant that they did not want to vote for the Conservatives; convinced that a vote for the Lib Dems would be wasted on account of the fact that they currently have nine MPs. Convinced of a need for radical change, but unconvinced about Corbyn’s leadership. The second he stepped off that bus, the crowd burst into applause. There is no doubt in my mind that, there and then, those who were previously unconvinced of Corbyn’s ability instantaneously revolutionised their way of thinking. Affection and humanity beamed from the crowds. One lady next to me was so excited at the sheer potential of Corbyn’s proposals that she was moving back and forth to get the best view possible. You could see it in her eyes that she didn’t just want a Labour government: she needed it, as so many millions do.

Only Corbyn could attract such a vast number of people. Miliband visited, as did Gordon Brown: these men didn’t receive nearly the same amount of support. Not even close. Here, Corbyn presents real change. By contrast, May, in her avoidance of the media and refusal to engage in televised debates, is attracting publicity for entirely the wrong reasons. Monday’s visit to Abingdon, Oxfordshire greeted her with a fiery interrogation by Cathy, a woman with learning difficulties: “I’m being serious, I want you to do something for us”. All she got as an answer was: “We’ve got a lot of plans for people with mental health in particular”. The epitome of vague.

The mainstream media has been against Corbyn from the beginning. In 2016, The Independent found that seventy-five percent of press coverage has done nothing but misrepresent him. Fast forward to the General Election, and this bias remains an entrenched feature of the mainstream media. Many remain convinced that Corbyn isn’t the Prime Minister for them for reasons as ridiculous as his so-called “scruffy-looking appearance”.

The man I saw in Leeds on Monday wasn’t impeded by his beard, or by his grey hair. His suit certainly didn’t stop him. No one in that crowd was at all concerned by his appearance: he could have materialised in jeans and people still would have adorningly absorbed every syllable. The appearance does not affect the policy, nor does it reflect it. Theresa May is constantly praised for her so-called stylish dress sense, yet the mainstream media launches little to no attacks on her for her appalling endorsement of fox-hunting or her commitment to the PIP (Personal Independence Payments) which have seen people such as Cathy reduced to a budget of £100 per month.

It is for this reason that Corbyn truly deserves accurate, non-biased media coverage. Having attended over forty events since the proposal for a General Election was announced almost a month ago, May has not been nearly so attentive. She resorted to staging a photograph with the entirety of her supporters behind her to convey an image of her as a popular leader. Take a couple of steps back and behind the cameras resides not a mass of people, but a mere few. Here, Corbyn is the one who wields fantastic public support, and yet May remains the media’s favourite. Somewhere along the line, something needs to change. Corbyn will be the man to do it.

Eleanor Noyce

(Image courtesy of Daily Mirror)

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