He is a man who has just won an election – overwhelmingly – with no tie and with his vest showing. Putting on a suit is the last thing Jeremy Corbyn needs to do.
But already, only two weeks into his leadership of the Labour Party, people are trying to change him. They voiced concern about his unwillingness to sing the National Anthem or bend the knee to the Queen, for example.
He’s a Republican and an Atheist, so these things are against his principles. We all knew this before he was elected, and he was elected anyway. It’s a little late to complain about them now!
His attitude to terrorist organisations has also been called into question, even though it is the same attitude that brought peace to Northern Ireland when Tony Blair tried it out.
And then there’s the question of his dress sense. The Graun had a go in an article today: “‘I find him exciting in some ways but then I have other thoughts on the national anthem and not dressing appropriately. There is a time and a place to fight those fights,’ said a woman, not the only one to link notions of being ‘scruffy’ with credibility (‘We’d be a laughing stock abroad,’ said another).”
Is Yanis Varoufakis a laughing stock around here? Of course not. But his dress sense is far from conventional.
What we’re seeing is the typical hypocrisy of the Middle Class, which can be summed up as: “He can do the job but we don’t want him if he won’t keep up appearances.” These are the people who want Hyacinth Bucket (remember her?) running the country.
But what people in these focus groups say isn’t nearly as influential as what is said by those who organise them and interpret their comments – usually in line with the wishes of whoever is paying.
So Deborah Mattinson of Britain Thinks, the organiser of the focus groups quoted in the Graun, tells us: “They already know quite a bit about him and they are worried about what they regard as ‘extreme’ policies.
“They’re worried, for example, that he does not speak to their concerns about the economy and immigration, that he won’t unite the Labour party and that under his leadership it will become divided and weak.”
That is not what the people themselves said. You can feel the influence of the paymasters bleeding through – or so it seems to This Writer.
Mrs Mike feels the same way. A few days ago, she asked me to write an article supporting Mr Corbyn’s position on clothing, the economy (anti-austerity), foreign affairs (negotiation rather than aggression), and – very strongly – his own personal beliefs.
Her belief – and I agree with it – is that it is these unique qualities that lifted Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the Labour Party.
The voters who put him there will be angry if he lets the spads and focus groups mould him into something they don’t support – and rightly so.
The message could not be clearer: Sack the spads, Jeremy. Put away the focus groups. They’re not focusing on anything you need to worry about.
Don’t you go changing.
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