General Elections: Who Are You Going to Vote for?
Who are you going to vote for PM on 8 June? Corbyn and May have been depicted by the media in very different ways. Labour and Tory newspapers have voiced their support for their preferred candidate by elevating one over the other, while, at the same time, caricaturing the opposing candidate. In this article, I take two different tabloids in order to see how two extreme points of view are shaping our opinion about the two candidates. Tabloids targeting a left-wing or right-wing audience have created their own cult of personality around the two leaders, very often using ridicule or overexaggerating the candidates’ weaknesses to entertain. The truth is perhaps somewhere in the middle, but, no one can resist some sensationalism on a Friday afternoon.
Let’s see how the Daily Mirror and the Daily Mail represent May and Corbyn.
What does the Daily Mirror say about Corbyn and May?:
As a Labour supporter, the Daily Mirror has described “Corbynmania” and “Mayhem” in varying ways. May is considered “undeserving” to win the election and her “stupendously bad campaign” has been “the worst of any serving Prime Minister in living memory.” Breaking her manifesto promises and changing her position on social care hasn’t done May any favours. In the same article, discussing her U-turns, the Daily Mirror said: “This breathtaking complacency of arrogance from an aloof leader who believes herself entitled to a coronation rather than a contest means Mayhem's authority is irreparably dented. Even if she wins an increase in the Tories 17 majority, she is a loser whose frailties are cruelly exposed.” The article was also critical in relation to the Conservatives’ tax and spending plans and how they always get a free pass, while Labour has been demonised as “financially irresponsible.”
The Mirror also highlights how Corbyn has been treated by the Tory press as “Public Enemy Number One, constantly abused and smeared.” On the contrary, May’s “thoughts and speeches are sympathetically reported, blunders played down.” For the left tabloid, even stories like Daily Mail’s claim that the BBC “rigged a TV debate audience against Tory Amber Rudd,” spread “misinformation” and let “the Tory press set the agenda.”
What does the Daily Mail say:
According to the Daily Mail, Jeremy is a dreamer, a weak politician and someone with a soft attitude to Brexit. Not to mention his “sickening demonstrations of support for terrorists.” For the Daily Mail reader, Corbyn is known as “la-la Jeremy.”
The question of Corbyn’s patriotism is among the Daily Mail’s favoured subjects, after he refused to sing the national anthem and “voicing sympathy for the IRA.” His soft position on Brexit is also another of his sins.
The Daily Mail also published articles criticising the BBC debate as “ugly, uninformative and biased,” and talked about “Mr Corbyn's economic illiteracy.” An article on the TV debate complained about the way reporters treated “Corbyn’s cynical U-turn on turning up like the Second Coming, and demanded imperiously to know why Theresa May wasn't attending.”
The right-wing tabloid has also perpetuated the idea that Corbyn would destroy Brexit and the economy: “Wedded for a lifetime to Marxist ideas that have spread poverty and misery wherever they've been tried, here is a politician who would wipe out all the economic progress of decades at a stroke.
His cripplingly expensive, unfunded programme of mass nationalisation would drag Britain back to the darkest days of the Seventies, just when the rest of the world — with the almost single exception of North Korea — is turning its back on state socialism.
As for his swingeing taxes on businesses, income, wealth and land, these would lead to a flight of investment from this country unseen since the war, decimating jobs, depressing wages and crushing living standards.”
Corbyn is also represented by the tabloid as someone who would waste money or who thinks money grows on trees: “Can voters really be so naïve as to believe his fantasy pledges of thumping great pay rises all round, earlier retirement, free childcare, free tuition — free this, that and the other, all courtesy of the mighty (incompetent) state, with countless billions to spare for investment in public services? Every day his list of lavish promises lengthens, as he spews out money that doesn't exist.”
On Brexit and immigration: “With his views on migration, his shambling failure to grasp detail — and his stated determination to stay in the single market and other Brussels institutions whatever the price — the very thought of putting such a man in charge of Brexit negotiations is enough to chill the blood.”
Against our way of life: Corbyn has been portrayed as a dangerous man who would corrupt our way of life: “the truth is that he has befriended some of the world's most evil terrorists who share one common factor: they hate Britain and our way of life.”
Last man on earth to help Britain: “As for national security, this lifelong supporter of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament — who, God help us, has made clear he would never press the nuclear button — is the last man on Earth to back our Armed Forces and maintain our defences in this dangerous world.”
For other writers from the Daily Mail camp, Corbyn has some charms: While she finds his politics “wrong” and “that behind the authentic, human, Jeremy Corbyn, his strategic campaign team are playing to …[the] crowd” and “calculating votes to be won,” Katie Hopkins, admits that Corbyn “is the type of guy you could have an affair with. You wouldn't want to be married to him - he looks a bit vegan in a vest - but on a Friday afternoon at around 6pm, he makes you feel pretty good about the world.”
While “la-la Jeremy” is generally believed to be a weak and incapable politician, May is seen as a strong candidate who is sometimes misunderstood: “she has been a victim of her own honesty. She is at least trying to find solutions to a huge challenge — how to look after the elderly in comfort and dignity, with lifespans lengthening in an increasingly ageing population.”
For the Daily Mail, Theresa May “is the only show in town.”
Who is really honest with their readers? Is the representation of Corbyn and May by either of these two tabloids truthful and impartial? Who do you think is more deserving of your vote?