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June 16, 2017

How right-wing media got it wrong in Corbyn case


June 16, 2017

LONDON: Right-wing newspapers launched assaulted Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for over two years and remained relentless till the election day, but the election results showed how the masses were put off by the excessively negative coverage.

The papers that led attacks on Jeremy Corbyn included Daily Mail and Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun. Several other publications also urged their readers not to vote for Jeremy Corbyn and these included The Daily Express, The Times, The Telegraph, The Star and Evening Standards. The Sun and Daily Mail routinely assaulted the Labour leader, calling him a terrorists and terror sympathiser on the eve of election and making appeals to readers on front pages not to vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

A day before the election and within hours of the London Bridge terror attacks, Daily Mail called Labour leadership "Apologists for Terror" and accused Corbyn, John McDonnell and Dianne Abbot of "befriending the enemies of State while undermining the institutions which keep us safe”. The Paper devoted 13 pages to attacking Labour leadership. Daily Mail "revealed" that Corbyn voted against the counter-terrorism law used to ban Al-Muhajiroun and criminalise its members and leaders. The tabloid concentrated its fire on Corbyn, compiling hostile anecdotes dating back to seventies. The Mail made fun of Corbyn's reaction to the terrorist attacks and named it "expressions of horror". The paper claimed that Labour leader spent his career glorifying those who hate our country and pouring scorn on the authorities.

Right-wing tabloid The Sun set out the case that Corbyn gave speech in a pro-Palestine rally in 2012 at Trafalgar Square which was attended by the followers of imprisoned extremist preacher Anjem Chaudhry and called them the “Jihadi comrades of Jremey Corbyn” on its front-page. The paper published a photo of Corbyn in the dust bin and urged its readers to bin Jeremy Corbyn on the election day. The Sun had been relentless in its drive to turn voters against the Labour Party leader. The Sun's notorious headline "it’s The Sun Wot, Won it" contributed to the unexpected victory of then unpopular Conservative party in 1992 General elections, and it has became a political catch phrase in Britain. In next elections, The Sun switched its side and backed Tony Blair in 1997 elections and continued supporting Labour until 2009 when it switched to Tories, The paper said "After 12 long years in power, this govt has lost its way, Now it's lost the Sun's support too." During the election run up, The Sun wrote "If Jeremy Corbyn wins the election, we'll have a PM who thinks Britain is a problem."

Daily Express published the front-page leader "Vote May or we face Disaster", urging people to back the Conservatives. It said: “on one side its mainstream Conservative party under Theresa May and on the other is Labour under Jeremy Corbyn, the most extreme figure”. The Telegraph and The Times took a similar line by backing the Conservatives. The Telegraph speculated "It is possible that officers (special branch) have been investigating Corbyn's links to extremist groups." The Guardian and The Daily Mirror, only UK national newspapers supported Labour and Metro and Daily Star were politically neutral. Evening Standard published former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie's statement that the country would most like to see the Headline "Jeremy Corbyn knifed to death by asylum seeker."

Readers shifted to social media made it tougher for the right-wing press to influence voters. Corbyn supporters, particularly the young, complained that he was treated unfairly and has not had the fair deal at the hands of right-wing press despite having the support on ground. it sparked widespread outrage among labour voters.

On the election day, Corbyn supporters bought the bulks of Sun, Daily Express and Daily Mail, burnt them to fire, dumped them in the bin and hide them behind the grocery on Super Stores. People posted the videos of them burning the copies of newspapers. This was the protest against the bias of rightwing media.

The hashtag #Last Minute Corbyn Smears kept trending on tweeter. A social media user Nicholas Collon tweeted “Dude in front of me at newsagents just bought up entire stock of #Sun and #Daily Mail & threw it in the bin.”

Another posted the photo newspapers and tweeted we are saving them for toilet roll. One social media user posted a video of newspapers on fire went viral, John Niven wrote on video "This morning I reigned the British spirit with the newsagents entire stock of Suns and Daily Mails."

Social media users made fun of rightwing press rhetoric offering comedic takes on what Corbyn might be guilty of. A medical student on twitter shared a photo of Corbyn sitting on beach and wrote "Jeremy Corbyn once took a holiday in the 1980s and is now a tourist sympathiser."

Another tweeted: "Jeremy will use your last bit of toilet paper, and then not say a word." Laura N Way taunted the newspapers; Jeremy Corbyn "Stole all the Conservative Party's calculators so they couldn't cost their manifesto." Another social media user expressed the sentiments: "Corbyn leaves the microwave with four seconds left on the timer in the staff kitchen."

The results of elections proved that the rightwing press no more holds the absolute power in Britain. People criticised the Freedom of Press by calling it "Freedom of rich to use their wealth to shape and fabricate the public opinion". Many of them talk about Press regulations as being the solution to this problem. A politics expert professor Goodwin stuffed pages of his book into his mouth live on Sky News after his claim bombed that Labour would not get more than 38% of the votes, but Mr Corbyn's party won more than 40%.

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