By Joe Paley, Account Executive [email protected]
Jeremy Corbyn was recently elected the new leader of the Labour Party in perhaps the biggest upset in British political history. The self-described socialist, who had been a backbench MP since 1983, was initially given odds of 200-1 by bookmakers William Hill only to triumph with nearly 60% of the vote. But now the 66 year-old, who represents the Islington North constituency, has to emerge from the shadows of the backbenches to lead a divided Labour Party into a new era. For Corbyn to successfully do this however, he will need to control his image on a daily basis. After all, image is everything in politics today; elections are no longer won on ideology or record alone, but on how likeable and trustworthy a candidate is. The saying often goes, “could I have a pint with him?” as people want to vote for somebody they personally connect with. Corbyn and his advisors therefore need to take PR seriously if they wish to make an impact on British politics and be on the ballot box in 2020. Here are 3 ways his team can use PR for his advantage:
Make use of his anti-establishment image
In 2015, we are seeing the rise of anti-establishment candidates on both sides of the Atlantic, from Corbyn in the UK to Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the United States. But why? The answer is simple; Sanders, Trump and Corbyn are not traditional politicians in any sense of the word. All three are unafraid to disagree with their own party and refuse to bow down to political correctness. Corbyn has voted against Labour in the Commons over 550 times and even called for former Prime Minister Tony Blair to be put on trial for war crimes. Corbyn has expressed views like these whilst refusing to wear a tie and do his suit top button up – he is quite simply the definition of anti-establishment and his PR team need to keep letting people know this.
Engage the public and continue to do things differently
Corbyn likes do things differently and this was certainly evident during his first Prime Minister’s Questions when he decided to ask David Cameron questions emailed in by his supporters – which varied from issues such as mental health to housing. Whilst many political commentators criticised Corbyn for this, saying that that he sounded more like a “radio host” than a leader of the UK’s second largest political party, Corbyn also received a lot of praise for engaging the public in a manner that demonstrated his willingness to think outside of the box.
Start making progress with the press
Over the years, Corbyn has found it difficult to form a productive relationship with the British press because of his controversial views. At his unveiling as the new Labour leader, Corbyn accused media outlets of causing a “faux drama” surrounding the leadership election. Moving forward however, this kind of negative approach to the media is unsustainable. Corbyn surely realises that his battle with the press has just begun, and that he will be the target of intense scrutiny over the coming months and years. So what should he do? Corbyn needs to start restoring relations with newspapers that have sympathised with the Labour Party over the years. The British newspaper media has an enormous amount of influence in the UK today, and it is simply impossible for Corbyn to succeed if all of the mainstream media is against him.
Jeremy Corbyn needs to surround himself with the best PR people to capitalise on his everyman image and persuade voters that his policies are the best for Britain. If Corbyn fails to utilise PR he will ultimately fail to maintain his image, making it increasingly difficult to win over the electorate.