Reality TV isn’t often our recommended watch of the week here at Field, but this week it is different. The Corbyn documentary by Vice News is proper must-see telly. Without too many spoilers, the half hour film takes you on a story from the highs and hopes of Corbynistas as their man triumphed in the Labour Leadership contest to the hide behind the sofa with embarrassment daily operation of life as Leader of the Opposition.
So what did we learn about Corbyn from this? Corbyn and his advisers resemble a team under siege. Unable to comprehend and predict events it is clear from this film that Jeremy has surrounded himself by people to share his beliefs but seem unwilling to challenge his confused authority to right the good ship Labour. A timely scene in the documentary is the prep meeting for a particularly important PMQs. Surrounded by a cast of thousands Corbyn practices some rather beige remarks and is met with raptuous applause by the assembled believers. Their job should not be to applaud but to rip their boss apart. In that dissection comes the perfection of messages, the brutality of Parliamentary cut and thrust and the type of ‘old politics’ victories they publicly shy away from but privately seem to desire so much.
Corbyn himself comes across as a man out of time, uneasy with the power and position he now has. The team around him seem nice enough but take a step back and compare Blair’s team in 1994 with Corbyn’s of 2016. Each portfolio in 1994 was filled by a powerful and respected figure in their own right backed by a team of equally consumate professionals. The hapless but adorable Head of Events in this documentary added some charming comic relief and came across as a likeable figure but he ain’t no Angie Hunter.
Those interested in equality might also spot that there were few women and even fewer ethnic minority figures surrounding Corbyn. A working man’s club might not be the best model of organisation to embrace as Prime Minister in waiting. We don’t want to spoil the rest of the documentary for you but this is 30 minutes you should wisely invest in some online viewing. Watch out for the narrative of hope moving to concern moving to dispair in the commentary. If you like Corbyn this will be part of the MSM conspiracy against the only hope for mankind. If you don’t, this will confirm all your worst fears about the competency of Corbyn’s operation. And if you don’t really have a view, then this film will steer you to one of those camps.
Vice News and on-screen host and director Ben Ferguson have done themselves hugely proud in this documentary. It is the type of game-changing moment that could propel the site from obscure blog into the mainstream of the new dynamic content media family with HuffPo and Buzzfeed. Hats off to them. It’s compelling viewing, watch it.
Watch the Jeremy Corbyn: The Outsider online here. https://news.vice.com/video/jeremy-corbyn-the-outsider