In September 2015, soon after Jeremy Corbyn’s election, I was asked to offer advice to the freshly elected Labour leader. My response was, following our experiences in Greece of defeating a resurgent, oligarchic media twice during that year:
Do not get scared by the character assassination attempts of the systemic media. The systemic media will try to tear you apart. What is important is that you shower them with rational arguments, with compassion, with a degree of humour and self deprecation, and concentrate on cultivating very strong relations with the public out there who have had a gutful of spin and of the attempts of all parties to congregate in the middle ground where they hope to serve the prejudices of the median voter.
Faced down by an ironclad establishment hell bent on retrieving its control over the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn stood his ground on behalf of basic human decency and, moreover, of Progressive Principled Politics.
Last night the British people rewarded him, and his comrades, for this with an astounding vote of confidence. Against the grain of a British press that had never been so unified before, in ridiculing and distorting his sensible policies and his civilised demeanour (even The Guardian was pitted against him, until the last few days of the campaign), he did that which progressives must always do: He stayed glued to his message and ignored the distortions, provocations, attempts at character assassination of the media, succeeding in the end to bypass them and speak directly to the hopes and concerns of the electorate.
In such a political and media environment, stopping Theresa May’s bandwagon, scoring amongst the largest Labour shares of the vote since WW2, and forcing a hung Parliament upon a Tory leader that was considered a dead-cert victor, was a magnificent victory.
Of course, like all victories that progressives score against the establishment, it is a small stepping stone along a difficult path. Like all progressive victories its significance is not in what it achieved but in the potential that it now unleashes on behalf of the people of Britain and of progressives everywhere.