Belfast Telegraph

Why the authentic label is wearing thin when it comes to Corbyn

By Lindy McDowell

I know we are all pretty much Corbyn-ed out. But two things about Jezza continue to fascinate - me, anyway. His so-called authenticity. And his tie. First up, the authentic tag. The new Labour leader (as opposed to the old New Labour leader) is we're told, an authentic politician. People like him because he's authentic. That landslide vote in the Labour leadership campaign was all down to party members being attracted by the very fact that he was/is so authentic.

Define authentic ...

It's the new buzzword in politics (is there a new buzzword for buzzword these days?) and refers to Jeremy's apparent lack of spin and artifice. What you get is what you see. He's his own man. No playing to the cameras there. That sort of thing.

Authentic is the new cool. The new real. Remember a few years back when we were constantly being bombarded by reports about real women? The beauty products firm Dove even ran a couple of ad campaigns featuring these real women. Slightly larger and bumpier than the usual reedy cosmetic model. But still somewhat glossier looking than the even more realistic rest of us.

Anyway, call me cynical but I'm not convinced authentic is all that authentic either.

After years of spin and lookey-likey, soundalike leaders at Westminster however, you can see why Corbyn might be seen as a bit of a change. Perhaps not a refreshing change. But a change nonetheless.

Yet he does not, as his friend Gerry might say, have a monopoly on authentic.

Across the pond Donald Trump is described as the most authentic politician in the US. Enough said there. Facial hair (Corb's) and a bad combover (Trump's) are apparently no drawback to authentic man.

Nigel Farage has also been described as authentic. And look what happened to him at the election, Jeremy.

Even X Factor contestants can be authentic. It's a favourite word of Cheryl's, although interestingly you do get a sense there of a back-handed compliment. It usually proceeds a line about the vocals not being great. "But I like you as a person."

Not quite the full "you nailed it" stamp of approval in other words.

And now that Jeremy has made it through to Westminster bootcamp, so to speak, he may need more than just "authentic" to negotiate the next few tricky months.

Which brings us to the tie. The tie that Jeremy used to swear he would never wear. What is it with Leftie men (or in some cases men who want to appear Leftie) and ties? Why do they hate neckwear more than they hate, say, privatisation? Do socialists have more sensitive necks?

Or is it just that they feel authentic men don't wear ties?

Jeremy has already conceded defeat on that one. He showed up in Parliament for his first PMQs primly buttoned up, as authentically conformist as they come.

Among upcoming evening dress challenges that now await is a state dinner next month for the Chinese president. As Leader of the Opposition, Mr Corbyn is expected to wear a white tie. The full Fred Astaire that Martin McGuinness wore to dinner with Her Majesty.

Not a great look for a Leftie. How do you keep it authentic in tails, Jezza?

He's brought it on himself, this daft, trivialising focus on what he wears or whether he sings the national anthem. Unspun Jeremy is already getting himself tied up in knots.

When your vest gets more attention than your policies you have a problem. A real problem.

And speaking of problems ...

Are there any politicians in Northern Ireland, do you think, that we could label authentic?

I can't think of one.

No surprises there, though. No-one could ever accuse our politicos of being real ...

Not investing in police is a cop-out

We need to get our priorities right in Northern Ireland. And high among them you would think, has to be an efficient, properly resourced police service.

Yet according to Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin, the PSNI is currently 180 officers short of "operational resilience" which is presumably police-speak for "what we need".

Meanwhile, police stations are closing faster than record shops. Overworked officers are expected to take up the slack at a time when pressures on the PSNI are mounting. Any wonder so many feel hard done by? Something has to give in budget cuts, yes. But if we can't afford proper policing, we're headed for big trouble.

And there's more... Jimmy's big prize

Congratulations to James Joseph Mulgrew, aka comedian Jimmy Cricket, who has been awarded a papal knighthood.

The award recognises the Cookstown-born entertainer's contribution to charity.

The new knight in wellies may not be everyone's comedy cup of tea, but there's no doubting his good heart.

In an interview he says that when his local priest delivered the certificate his immediate thought was: "He's got the wrong fella here. Is he sure it's not the neighbour?"

To get an honour for something you love doing, he adds, is "quite a blessing".

Quite a guy.

Belfast Telegraph


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