On Monday 15 May, Theresa May’s first live-streamed interview on Facebook was met with derision and a deluge of ‘angry face’ emojis. One day later, Jeremy Corbyn live-streamed the launch of the Labour Party manifesto, and the people of Facebook love-bombed him.
The Prime Minister’s Facebook Live Q&A session on 15 May did not go well. She lied repeatedly. The Labour leader gatecrashed her appearance. And more than 13,000 Facebook users responded to her broadcast with ‘angry face’ emojis.
But when Corbyn’s launch of the Labour Party manifesto was live-streamed from the University of Bradford on 16 May, he received a very different response. More than 20,000 Facebook users love-bombed the Labour leader’s broadcast with ‘loves’ and ‘likes’.
And if the Conservative campaign went looking for solace in the comments, it wouldn’t have had much luck there either. Here are the top five comments on May’s broadcast:
Compare these to the top five comments on Corbyn’s:
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Two very different broadcasts
Facebook users were responding to two very different broadcasts. One, obviously, was a manifesto launch. And the other was an interview. But the differences went way deeper than that. While the PM shielded herself from the public by using Robert Peston as an intermediary, Corbyn invited members of the public onstage to share his platform. While May retreated into subterfuge and spin, Corbyn relied on substance.
That substance was a “radical and responsible” manifesto, the leaked version of which had already proven extremely popular with voters. In his speech, the Labour leader ruled out rises on VAT and National Insurance and on income tax for all but the richest 5% of high earners, and pledged to:
- Increase the living wage to at least £10 an hour by 2020.
- Scrap tuition fees.
- Expand free childcare provision for two, three and four-year-olds.
- Guarantee the triple lock to pensions.
- Build over a million new homes.
- End zero-hour contracts.
- Hire 10,000 new police officers and 3,000 new firefighters.
- Set up a National Investment Bank.
- Create a National Education Service.
- Renationalise railways.
- Bring water into regional public ownership.
- Take a public stake in the energy sector.
And that was just for starters. The manifesto [pdf] also pledges to:
- Increase corporation tax from 19% to 26% by 2020.
- Introduce a 45p rate of income tax for those earning more than £80,000.
- Introduce a 50p rate of tax for those earning more than £123,000.
- Reverse the privatisation of Royal Mail.
- Commit more than £30bn in extra NHS funding over the next parliament.
- Scrap the NHS pay cap.
- Legislate to ensure safe staffing levels in the NHS.
- Guarantee the rights of EU staff working in health and care services.
- Create a new £250m Children’s Health Fund.
- Spend an additional £25.3bn a year on education.
- Reduce class sizes for five, six and seven-year-olds.
- Keep the Human Rights Act.
- Review legal aid means tests.
- Recruit 3,000 more prison officers.
- Build no new private prisons.
- Set new standards for tackling domestic and sexual violence.
- Ban letting agency fees for tenants.
- Make 4,000 additional homes available for rough sleepers.
- Roll out maximum pay ratios of 20:1 in the public sector.
- Ban unpaid internships.
- Extend rights of employees to all workers.
- Refuse to accept Britain leaving the EU without a new trade deal.
A blueprint for Britain
The manifesto is a blueprint for a very different kind of Britain from the one we have endured over recent decades: a country which takes care of all of its inhabitants – and pays for it by increasing taxes only for the very richest, who have benefited at the expense of ordinary people under successive Conservative governments.
The establishment media were predictably unimpressed. It took Laura Kuenssberg minutes to misrepresent Labour’s proposals on tax increases for the wealthiest.
But the recent love-bombing of Corbyn – on Facebook and on the streets – tells a very different story from the one being peddled by the mainstream media. Facebook ‘loves’ and packed rallies don’t necessarily translate into electoral success. They do show, however, that despite a sustained media smear campaign against Corbyn, there is a hunger for his vision of a fairer, more progressive Britain. And on 8 June, for the first time in many decades, voters will be offered a real choice at the ballot box. It’s an opportunity we cannot afford to waste.
You can watch the full manifesto launch here:
– Register to vote in the 8 June general election.
– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.
– Are you being targeted by Facebook adverts by political parties? Tell ‘Who Targets Me?‘
– Also read more Canary articles on the 2017 general election.
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