Has Jeremy Corbyn just given the most uncomfortable political interview ever?

Has Jeremy Corbyn just given the most uncomfortable political interview ever?

It’s not often that I feel sorry for a political leader. But I did feel sorry for Jeremy Corbyn during his first major interview as Labour leader, with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg.

Throughout it he was torn, painfully at times, between the intense desire to be true to himself and the equally intense need to avoid anything that would offend or drive people away. How do you square a circle like that!

Just look at his body language between 9.07 and 10.07, as Kuenssberg repeatedly asks him whether he will kneel before the Queen when being sworn in as a member of the Privy Council.  Corbyn visibly squirms, and it’s not difficult to guess what this lifelong republican is thinking:

  1. The monarchy should be abolished, so of course I don’t want to kneel before the Queen.

  2. Is this really a big enough issue to be talking about? What about poverty and deprivation?

This 60 seconds encapsulates the dilemma that Corbyn faces. Should he be true to himself

and say what he really thinks? That would be the authentic thing to do. Or does he pander to the voters and contradict his lifelong principles. Either of these approaches would have merit, depending on your viewpoint, but in the heat of the moment Corbyn could only see the pitfalls of both. So he prevaricated, which was the worst of all possible worlds, pleasing nobody. In fact, he almost begged Kuenssberg to move on to another topic.

Yet such questions – not just on the monarchy, but on terrorism, the Middle East, NATO and the unions, to name but a few – will plague Corbyn throughout his time as leader, however long it lasts. Prevaricating, as he did with Kuenssberg, is no option at all. He must make a choice: be true to himself or reach out to more voters.

You might expect me, as a media trainer, to recommend the latter. But I don’t. First, a disclaimer: as I said in my column in Thursday’s American Spectator, Corbyn, I believe, has almost zero chance of becoming Prime Minister, regardless of his political strategy. He is simply too left wing for the taste of the vast majority of people. So why spin? Why smarten up, why work at a smoother and more diplomatic delivery, why reach out to Tory voters (or even New Labour ones) and why compromise his heartfelt beliefs? Why go down in history not just as a loser, but as an insincere one too?

Corbyn is a conviction politician, and we haven’t seen one of those leading a major political party since Maggie Thatcher. Ahh, I hear you say, she won three elections, so why can’t Corbyn?  Because Thatcher’s beliefs and convictions were shared by enough people to win. Not everyone, but enough. Corbyn’s beliefs, however sincerely held, turn most people right off.

So he should be true to himself. He should dress as he sees fit, say exactly what he thinks without prevarication, refuse to kneel to the Queen, refuse to sing the national anthem and stick to the issues he believes in.  Sure, he won’t win over much of the electorate (and he won’t get my vote), but he can enthuse a new generation of political activists and restore people’s faith in politicians to be honest and sincere. Those things are worth fighting for.

So come on Jeremy. Jes you can!

Article date

September 21st, 2015

Robert Taylor

Media Trainer


My main passion is media training, and I’m proud to be one of the UK’s most experienced and successful trainers in this field.

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