Anybody catching this year’s Remembrance Day ceremony on television this year will have spotted Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn wearing an anoark rather than the black overcoat worn by many of his fellow wreath-laying political leaders – as you can see in the image above
I did. I wasn’t actually taking part in any events this year so I had a chance to sit down and watch it instead. I was pleased to see Mr Corbyn’s choice of coat because it meant he stood out from the crowd that included Vince Cable, Theresa May and John Bercow. Also I dare say it would have protected him from any rain.
So imagine my surprise when I scanned Twitter afterwards and found this:
This stunt is cynically designed to provoke outrage in the media and feed a ‘them and us’ narrative.
Disrespectful and manipulative or sartorial froth?
You decide. pic.twitter.com/v6VZ4Zw5Vy
— Kevin McKeever (@kevinmckeever) November 11, 2018
I did! Fortunately, others had decided to respond before I had a chance, robbing the world of the opportunity to see me letting rip on some poor sap.
Rachael Swindon wrote: “Shocking revelation here. Jeremy Corbyn wore A COAT on a showery day in London today. I think Kev is a bit of a knob.”
So say we all. ‘Gary the opinionated insignificance took it a step further: “Did he do a “jig” on his way there this year or is that lie not being wheeled out this year?”
Remember that silliness? Eoin Clarke does:
This year’s wheeze didn’t seem to be working too well, though – as you can probably tell from the results of the poll in the following tweet:
When I voted and checked, it was clear that the majority support Mr Corbyn’s choice of outdoor wear.
So the loonies doubled down. Going back to the image, can you see that Mr Corbyn was sporting a poppy that was considerably smaller than those worn by his fellow wreath-laying political leaders?
I did. I was pleased to see Mr Corbyn’s choice of poppy because I have one very similar to it. They are metal, and cost considerably more than the normal, disposable poppies worn by most of the other bigwigs.
Imagine my surprise when, still scanning Twitter, I found this:
I hope all decent Labour people out there are clocking #Corbyn showing total disrespect at the cenotaph just now
Scruffy anorak, tiny, tiny poppy almost as if he is embarrassed
— (((Debbie Simone)))🐳#No2NoDeal (@debbiesimone123) November 11, 2018
You have to scroll down quite a way to see all the responses to this one.
Rachael Swindon (again) drew the logical conclusion:
So they realise there’s very little mileage in attacking Corbyn for his choice of coat and swiftly move on to the size of his poppy. Coincidentally, quite a few of these critics have a few size issues of their own, but that’s best left aside for another day.
— Rachael Swindon (@Rachael_Swindon) November 11, 2018
I also liked Cllr Cassi Perry’s rejoinder: “As a veteran I say wind your neck in. Ensuring it never happens again is the best way to honour our service and Corbyn is the one fighting hardest for that. And no we don’t care about the size of a bloody poppy. How old are you?!”
How about this from Sandy S? “Guess what, my 96 yr old Dad who flew Lancs in the war has just been to a rememberence parade, wearing the same poppy JC was wearing. Now stick that up your kite and smoke it. PS, he was wearing a raincoat too. You’re a disgrace.
And Clare Hepworth OBE was glowing in her indignation: “Oh for goodness sake! What a puerile , infantile – just plain STUPID comment to make on a day like this! Do you honestly believe that sensible people will take your comment seriously?”
Some focused on the fact that Mr Corbyn’s critics were focusing on the wrong thing. Remembrance Day is about commemorating our war dead and pledging to put an end to wars. Owen Jones tackled the first matter:
If you're screaming at a coat worn by a politician you don't like rather than remembering people slaughtered and maimed by war, you are so utterly irredeemably pathetic that I'm genuinely embarrassed for you.
— Owen Jones 🌹 (@OwenJones84) November 11, 2018
And genuine war veteran Harry Leslie Smith made an excellent point that the person standing next to Mr Corbyn in the image (above) is actually making it possible for wars to take place:
Make no mistake the greatest disrespect to our veterans doesn't come from the size of the poppy warn on the lapel but by those who enable arms to be sold into war zones not for our protection but for the greed of the 1%. #JeremyCorbyn #RemembranceDay2018
— John Smith (son of Harry Leslie Smith) (@Harryslaststand) November 11, 2018
Rachael Swindon made it perfectly clear:
They criticise Jeremy Corbyn for wearing an anorak, apparently he is disrespecting the dead. But they stay silent when Theresa May causes death and misery, not just on foreign soil, but in Britain, today. How many tears will they cry for the children of Yemen? Hypocrites.
— Rachael Swindon (@Rachael_Swindon) November 11, 2018
Then there’s this:
Pretty telling how right-wingers are more concerned with the colour of a man’s coat than they are about the party they support selling billions of pounds of weapons to a regime who brutally slaughter kids on a daily basis.
— Evolve Politics (@evolvepolitics) November 11, 2018
And Aleesha related it all to a very specific incident taking place as I type this:
While people are busy talking about Jeremy Corbyn’s coat & poppy, just a reminder that the fighting in Hodeidah (Yemen) is making the world’s largest humanitarian crisis even …worse. The port of Hodeidah is where 80% of Yemen’s imports & aid comes through. Civilians will die.
— Aleesha Khaliq (@a_leesha1) November 11, 2018
By now, the right-wing mainstream media had jumped on the bandwagon and the Daily Mail was kicking up a song and dance:
History will record that this is how British Journalism marked the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. https://t.co/QwXqUKZnDE
— Tory Fibs (@ToryFibs) November 11, 2018
… only to get exactly what it deserved:
— SUSAN SIMPSON #NeverTrustaTory (@smartysue) November 11, 2018
That’s all very amusing.
But it seems there is another reason right-wingers were trying to distract us with nonsense about Mr Corbyn’s choice of clothing. Here’s Richard O’Neill:
Before you idiots start banging on about Jeremy Corbyn's coat. I'm a 79 year old ex Army, "War pensioner" And I don't give a flying toss what he wears. He is the only politician I know who would actively protect ex service personnel, unlike the Tories who create their problems!
— richard oneill (@silverrich39) November 11, 2018
He’s absolutely right.
Only the day before the Remembrance parade, Mr Corbyn pledged to put an end to the “scourge” of homelessness among armed forces veterans.
Here‘s the Independent: “Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to end the “scourge” of rough sleeping among armed forces veterans as he calls on Theresa May to officially register the number of homeless ex-servicemen and women.
“The Labour leader will mark the historic occasion by outlining his party’s “social contract” for veterans, including provisions for free education and treating mental health issues as “seriously as physical health issues”.
“He will also call on ministers to use the government’s “long overdue” Veterans Strategy – due to be published later this month – to officially record the number of homeless veterans in the UK, including statistics on those who take their own lives.
“Mr Corbyn said: “The next Labour government will guarantee armed forces personnel the opportunity to have a home, to heal and to retrain when they complete their time in service.
““We will do the right thing by ending the scourge of rough sleeping and helping veterans embark on new careers.””
And this help is desperately needed – under the Tory government, war veterans are more likely to lose their homes than be given one.
According to Mirror Online: “At least 13,000 of our war heroes are homeless after leaving the military, a Sunday People probe reveals.
“Military charities said the shameful figure is a record high and the Government is failing those who risk their lives for Queen and country.
“They also issued a stark warning that the crisis deepens every month.
“Charity bosses say the problem has been made worse by cuts to the armed forces, which has led to almost 30,000 troops losing their jobs since 2010.
“Homeless numbers have soared, despite the Government outlining its duty to serving and former personnel by enshrining the Armed Forces Covenant in law in 2011.
“The covenant says veterans “should have priority status in applying for Government-sponsored affordable housing schemes, and service leavers should retain this status for a period of discharge”.”
It seems all this fuss about Mr Corbyn’s coat is meant to distract us from his commitment to help service veterans who have been failed by the Conservatives.