The attacks on Jeremy Corbyn used to be vicious. Now they are just laughable.
His critics once thought they could prevent him becoming popular with a constant barrage of half-truths and outright lies.
Now they know they have failed – but they have no other tactic.
Corbyn appeared on the main stage at Glastonbury on Saturday and spoke to a massive and warmly receptive crowd. Many said he was the man of the festival, with his name chanted all over the site and his face appearing on more T-shirts than any band.
This was a red-rag provocation to all those who once claimed that Corbyn’s problem was that he could never be popular.
How could all their insults, their derision, their half-baked newspaper attacks have failed? This wasn’t supposed to happen.
Immediately we saw people who have never even been to Glastonbury complaining that it was supposed to be a music festival, not a political one – ignoring nearly 50 years of radical left activity there.
Many complained that Corbyn’s appearance on the main stage was a breach of political impartiality, as though Michael Eavis’s privately-run festival was in some way subject to election-period broadcasting rules.
Some even went so far as to point out that Theresa May hadn’t been invited, which led to one of the best jokes of the festival when it was pointed out that she could appear on stage and have her name chanted too – as long as she changed her name to Boo.
Desperately looking for some other way to take the shine off Corbyn’s triumphant appearance, the Tory trolls, closely followed by the party’s attack-dog media, hit on the idea of suggesting he should have been somewhere else.
Yes! Why wasn’t he in Liverpool where apparently something called Armed Forces Day was being celebrated?
You know…Armed Forces Day?
No, I didn’t either, but I Googled it and apparently this centuries-old British tradition has been going since 2009.
The Daily Express headlined its story: “CORBYN’S SHAME: Labour leader blasted for shunning war heroes for Glastonbury love-in.”
Needless to say, the only people doing any “blasting” were a couple of Tory MPs (who were no doubt contacted specially to be offered a chance to “blast” Corbyn).
The Sun’s online headline was: “Jeremy Corbyn turns his back on British Troops as he snubs Armed Forces Day events to ramble on stage at Glastonbury.”
This on top of three critical paragraphs that led into an otherwise curiously sympathetic story about Corbyn’s day at Glastonbury. It was almost as if someone at the Sun had taken a straight report from someone who was actually there and looked for a way to twist it into an anti-Corbyn story.
Which, of course, is no doubt what happened. After 40 years in the media, I don’t have to guess how things work – I KNOW how they work.
Corbyn had tweeted his support for our armed forces that morning but that wasn’t good enough for the Express and Sun, of course.
Both those newspapers made the point that May had been in Liverpool for the armed forces event, but failed to mention one important fact: she was booed and heckled during her appearance there.
You’d think the Tory media might have learnt by now. Their attacks on Corbyn have failed and produce ever-diminishing returns.
In fact, it is pretty clear now that they are counter-productive. As one Twitter user put it: “When I read Tory-owned newspapers, Corbyn sounded like a terrible man. When I heard Corbyn himself, I knew newspapers lied.”
Trouble is, those newspapers know no other way.
They believed that if they dropped piles of manure on Corbyn, people would believe he stank…and it worked for a time.
But then many people realised they were being lied to – and they didn’t like it.
So what next for the Tory press?
Will they keep on hammering away at the same old themes in the hope that someone is listening? What is the alternative?
Their owners, and the wealthy whose interests they represent, are terrified of a Corbyn-led government. There is no way Murdoch could switch his support to Corbyn, as he once did to Tony Blair.
So they carry on with their now-laughable but increasingly unheeded attacks – and I say keep them coming!
The more they attack Corbyn, the stronger and more popular he becomes.
The latest opinion polls display a total turnaround in the last three months. May is now as unpopular as Corbyn allegedly was then, and Labour hold a five-point lead over the Tories.
The Tory press might be desperate – but their desperation is working against them and serves only to make a Corbyn Labour government more likely. Quite possibly, a certainty.
You couldn’t make it up, as one Tory newspaper commentator used to say.