British media outlets have attacked Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn throughout his tenure. Lies, spin, distorted facts – you name it, they’ve done it. One of the major lines of attack they used against Corbyn was the party’s spending plans under his leadership. Outlets led the public to believe that, should they give Corbyn control of the country’s finances, we’d be ‘bankrupt‘. This smear landed with many voters.
But did these outlets themselves believe what they were selling to the public? Well, the Daily Mail‘s front page on 12 March suggests not. Absolutely 100% not.
The ex-banker who’s now the UK’s chancellor, Rishi Sunak, delivered the budget on 11 March. It was widely hailed as a big-spending, “shock and awe” economic package by the press. Some financial professionals disagreed. Meanwhile, analysis shows it’s the better off who will benefit most from the splurge:
Nonetheless, the British press was undeterred from its efforts to praise the Conservatives’ plans. The Daily Mail went with the headline DR FEELGOOD TO THE RESCUE and carried a cartoon of the ‘new Tory star’ dressed as a doctor handing out cash.
However, this isn’t the first time the Daily Mail has covered big spending plans by politicians. Because it reported on Corbyn’s plans for the economy, too. Helpfully, someone has put coverage on this side by side with its swooning coverage of Sunak:
So both plans involved hefty spending. In fact, the spending the Daily Mail detailed in the article on Sunak’s budget far exceeded what it reported Corbyn planned to spend. Yet the outlet said Labour’s moderate plans would “bankrupt UK” but that Sunak was ‘rescuing’ the country.
It wasn’t just the Daily Mail, either:
“Idiots, fools and dupes”
So there you have it. The media’s attacks on Labour over its spending plans weren’t about the economy. They were about Labour. Like so much of the reporting on the party under Corbyn, they were about keeping a transformed party – which had abandoned its neoliberal, Tory-lite principles for ones grounded in equality, justice and socialism – out of power.
These moments are difficult for the media, though. How do you convince the public that something you’ve told them is so bad is actually really good? It’s a challenge, as writer Michael Rosen pointed out:
Can they convince people that two plus two equals five? Let’s hope not. But then again, stranger things have happened – like the 2019 general election result, where millions voted against their own interests.
Featured image via Sky News/YouTube and Kerry-anne Mendoza