This week Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn went some way towards finding his feet, while Donald Trump went some way towards losing a few more marbles.
On the BBC Today programme yesterday, Corbyn was asked if he and Trump shared something in common: supporters who believe that they have been let down or abandoned by mainstream politics. He took the not unreasonable response of saying that he could see no resemblance at all between himself and that wild-eyed, stupid-mouthed loon (my description, because Jeremy doesn’t do personal abuse, as he is always telling us).
And now another similarity arises. Now I am not for a moment suggesting that these men are alike in any sense other than possessing two legs, two arms and so on. But there is one thing: blaming the media.
This morning it is being reported that Donald Trump has gone on the offensive – not that he’s ever really been off it – after his underwhelming debate performance with Hillary Clinton. He said the debate moderator, Lester Holt, was biased and accused Google of a conspiracy to rig search results in favour of his Democrat rival.
Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, seemingly led on by their man, have long complained that the BBC is biased. Oh, and Channel 4 too. And all the newspapers (not without a degree of truth). More or less everything and everyone apart from the Canary (a newish news website that is, I might suggest, simply biased in the opposite direction).
Now there is a big difference here, in that Corbyn’s supporters can call on more evidence of hostility against their chosen representative on earth. And Donald Trump can call on whatever mad molecule just zipped through his brain; whatever post-truth thought has just careened through the damply fogged alleyways of his mind.
Trump’s manifesto, if such a thing exists, is basically to repeat that he will make America great again (a strong but meaningless slogan), to zap off crazy ideas about walling off Mexico, and then to scatter lies in all directions; and if caught out fibbing to shrug as if to say: “Who cares? It’s probably true anyway.”
His Twitter-shot personal planet is a screamingly strange place possessed of many blatant inconsistencies and all sorts of vicious nonsense. But enough people still believe in what he has to say for the world to remain worried. Hell, we might not love Hillary Clinton, but God speed to the woman: she’s our only hope.
As for Jeremy Corbyn, he gave a far better conference speech this year than last; and in interviews he has displayed calm authority rather than thin-skinned prickliness.
His speech promised various dreams of the left – good dreams, some of them – but seemed mostly aimed at pleasing the converted (who are easily pleased) and healing rifts in his riven party. Corbyn also stressed that he did want to win an election – an important point to make, when some of his supporters previously seemed happy with the distant Nirvana bit and walking around with saintly smiles that could be translated as: “Election victories. Who needs them?”
Reports of media bias against Labour have occupied me here before, so I won’t rehash the arguments. Besides it is more important for Corbyn to stop carping about the media and push on. Blaming the messenger is a game of limited duration, even if the messenger sometimes is a bastard.
Incidentally, I never can decide whether or not to bestow titles on politicians, so have avoided them here. Trump needs no ‘mister’ because he is just Trump. And Corbyn needs no mister because, to his supporters at least, he is Just Jeremy. His first name is enough for the converted.