The “Corbyn consulted with Commie spy” story has run across pretty much every newspaper you would consider right of centre in Great Britain now. It is clearly part of a concerted effort to change people’s minds about the Labour leader. If they can’t get to the young lefties who would never read The Daily Mail in a million years, at least they might change a few minds within the 30-45 year old range of people who probably represent the current swing vote. Property owning, Remainer types whom the custodians of papers like The Sun hope could be suitably repelled by the idea that Jeremy Corbyn might have had a pint or two with people who meant this country no damn good. Only, they tried this already, during the 2017 general election campaign – and it spectacularly failed.
It won’t work now either. The problem with trying to build up Corbyn into a monster who means the country genuine harm is, this is directly counter-intuitive to how he comes across to most people. He seems like a harmless, well meaning bloke to the vast majority of voters who pay little attention to politics in the UK between elections. This is reflected in the questions that the Czech spy story instantly raises: just how much useful information could Jeremy Corbyn have been privy to in the 1980s? A Labour backbencher in a time of terminal opposition for the party, a backbencher who was not well loved or trusted by the leadership of the party at the time, no less. What could he have known at the time that could any way have been construed as potentially damaging to the country? Again, even if he was actually willing to impart this information to a foreign source, something none of the stories printed so far come close to proving.
The right of centre press has reported in the past on stuff that is verifiable and much worse than this Czech spy story, like the fact that Corbyn took upwards of £20k to appear on Iranian state TV. And still, no one really cared about that either. Again, because people see Corbyn as well meaning, but a bit useless.
Ah ha, so there we have it. If most voters the Tories are trying to target see Corbyn as nice but useless, shouldn’t they just go with the flow and pump out stories about Corbyn’s gormlessness instead? Problem is, they can’t do that. At least, not at present. This is because attacking the hopelessness of the opposition while the government is saying things like “Brexit won’t lead to a Mad Max style apocalypse” and pumping out higher education policies that literally no one in the world doesn’t think are wretched isn’t a good look. In other words, they cannot attack Corbyn on the competence question until a Tory government looks at least half-competent again.
This very well might happen. It is difficult to see the Conservative Party getting in a worse leader than Theresa May (difficult, but not impossible, I hasten to add). If a Tory leader who doesn’t sound like they are about to fall to pieces every time they speak in public appears, the right-wing press will go after Corbyn’s lack of ability to be anything other than the worst opposition leader ever. Until then, we will have to suffer some more “reds under the bed” crap. Ah, the joys of 2018.