Don’t even know where to begin with this one, but I think it’s relatively safe to say this could be the final nail in the coffin for the Corbynite movement.
Like other, albeit more competent, leaders before him these image-destroying gaffes have proven catastrophic. It’s the perfect example of one of those simple situations that while fundamentally irrelevant to any matter of policy neverthless seeps into the public imagination with incredible efficiency. And it sticks.
Foot’s donkey jacket at the cenotaph. Miliband’s bacon butty. Cameron’s cycling chauffer.
Despite the fact that for staunch supporters/detractors this will merely confirm existing narratives — i.e., for supporters that the media/big business is out to get him because they are scared, for detractors that the man is utterly incompetent — the worst part about this is that it completely eradicates his “I’m different; I’m honest; I’m special” front. As such it ends any prospect (limited as it was on this shallow basis anyway) for him to convince other people to join him. Corbyn needs to change minds, not entrench them; least not existing mindsets if current polling is anything to go by.
The elephant in the room here is that Corbyn has built an entire ‘movement’ out of his personality and his (ac)claimed characteristics. Much as Corbynites like to say they’re really keen on policy, even a short conversation with them reveals this to be untrue.
Most remain remarkably ignorant of any meaningful policy considerations or arguments, instead defaulting to vague rhetoric about the status quo, neoliberalism etc. Prod even that (if you dare!) and you’ll find yourself on the receiving end of people regurgitating the (incredible) extent to which they believe Corbyn to be a paragon of virtue. “Straight talking, honest politics” is the slogan.
With that in mind, this incident, involving what is in reality a relatively ordinary and unremarkable (read: ‘boring’) man who claims to be truly special and ‘above it all’, will undoubtedly do significant harm to his already disastrous image.
Furthermore, the idea that a business would pick a fight with a leader of the opposition suggests just how little threat of a Corbyn government there really is perceived to be, particularly for an industry whose business is heavily influenced by regulatory changes and liable to expropriation. Were he viewed as likely to form a government, Richard Branson would have probably tweeted sarcastically about the incident, brushing it off, rather than directly attacking Corbyn and risk being made an example of by any future government, particularly one with an already intensely prejudiced view of corporations and an ideological hunger for state ownership.