Mis-Communicator of the Week: Jeremy Corbyn

At roughly 6 am on Saturday 3 May 2008 I was woken by a voice many of you will instantly recognise asking politely if I could get to his house as “the media are outside erecting scaffolding and stuff like that”. I’d been asleep for roughly two hours after working every day for eight weeks and was exhausted. As well as a little tipsy. Within a few hours I had given an ad hoc doorstep interview to the BBC and Sky News, received a text message from Australian campaigning legend Lynton Crosby telling me the “Pictures look f-ing awful. Sort it out”, and begun to field probing questions from the media as to the first decisions Boris Johnson, London’s new mayor, was likely to make.

The voice on the phone that morning was Boris and this is just some of the chaos I experienced in the immediate aftermath of his victory in the mayoral election. This is relevant for this week’s award winner as I have been at the centre of a campaign that wins and then is expected to govern with immediate effect. The reason this week’s winner is the recipient of this award is that there are some simple steps to take that hide the chaos and communicate action which he ignored.

Back to 2008 and, as Boris stepped up to be sworn in as mayor, he tripped up the steps to the stage on the top floor of City Hall which was met with audible gasps from the audience and sniggers from the media. This though was not the expected low point of that first day; Boris had a prepared speech, crumpled in his pocket, which set out clearly his intentions as mayor by essentially reiterating his main campaign messages. This preparedness brought us all time as the media had the words and pictures to get them through the next news cycle.

The contrast between this and Jeremy Corbyn accepting the leadership of the Labour Party on Saturday is obvious. Corbyn’s team briefed that the new Labour leader would deliver "the speech of his life” but his speech was rambling, included an ill-advised attack on the media, was overly long, lacked a theme, and failed to match the electricity of his performances at hustings events. It is perhaps overstating the importance of one speech but his performance seems to have set the tone for these early days of his leadership - chaotic and unfocussed. For such an experienced public speaker I was surprised.

Corbyn should have had a speech prepared. It is unforgivable not to have done so as this was a rare opportunity to communicate via a willing national media. The speech should have been short, positive and reiterated his policies which won him such a landslide victory. Then he should have left the venue saying he was getting down to work. Instead of that he left and went to the pub surrounded by a mob of supporters and the media. It all looked and sounded utterly unprofessional. No wonder even union bosses have attacked Corbyn and his media team. That is why Jeremy Corbyn is my Mis-Communicator of the Week.

Mis-Communicator of the Week is written by Edward Staite.

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