Five things we learned from Vice's Jeremy Corbyn documentary

 
Mark Sands
Follow Mark
Jeremy Corbyn Leads Rally To Remain In The EU
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who responded "you'll see", when asked what he will do about internal opposition (Source: Getty)

Over eight weeks, Vice News profiled Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn - here are the big takeaways from the result.

1. The scale of Corbyn's ambition remains unclear

The Labour leader is modest when it comes to his own fame, denying that he is “famous”, but it's not clear whether Corbyn sees himself as a future Prime Minister.

Asked why he ran for the Labour leadership, Corbyn said: “The left comrades in parliament decided that we had to put somebody forward and they all pointed at me.”

And rather than last May's council election as his first substantial challenge, Corbyn added that the biggest test of a party leader is “to grow the party, is to make the party more active, to challenge the party in parliament and to take part in all the electoral contests”.

Read More: Corbyn to lead demonstration against the Housing Bill

In a rehearsal exchange prior to one of Corbyn's strongest performance at Prime Minister's Questions, where he first caught out David Cameron with a series of probing points on academies, the Labour leader joked: “Who wants to be Prime Minister?

An offscreen aide responded, uncertainly: “You do, I think?”

2. Corbyn's scepticism of the press doesn't exclude left-leaning papers

It's been clear for a long time that Corbyn does not intend to engage with media as many of his predecessors have, preferring instead to seek out small, local events and use social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and, most recently, Snapchat.

However, the documentary laid clear the Labour leader's antipathy. At one point a March piece by the Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland on the party's issues with anti-semitism, was described as “utterly disgusting, subliminal nastiness”.

And following last month's council and mayoral elections, Corbyn also attacked the BBC for obsessing over him.

Read More: Corbyn sets out pro-EU case amid claims he's been gagged

“There is not one story on any election, on anywhere in the UK, that the BBC will not spin into a problem for me. It's obsessive beyond belief,” he said.

“They are obsessed with trying to damage the leadership of the Labour party”

3. Corbyn continues to push back against his advisers

At one point Labour aide Gavin Sibthorpe expressed exasperation with his attempts to get Corbyn to dress more smartly.

“I've tried. It's hard. I did get him in the white tails, and he looked smart on remembrance Sunday, and I think that's where I peaked really,” he said.

“It does matter,” Sibthorpe later remarked. I was always told you dress for the occasion."

Read More: Corbyn to businesses: Labour is your natural ally

And it's clear that some within the leader's office would rather Corbyn was more aggressive in his attacks.

Following the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith in March, parliament was recalled for a statement from David Cameron on the refugee crisis.

One aide described the statement as “a real opportunity to show the difference between us and them on fairness.”

Corbyn retorted: “It's not up to me to throw in other than a couple of lines about the Government being in a mess."

4. The leader's office harbours concerns about internal opposition...

At another remarkable point, Corbyn's communications chief Seamus Milne revealed he was worried about Labour's PMQs prep being leaked to the Conservatives.

Milne estimated that roughly a third of the time, he believed that the Government had been handed advance information on Corbyn's attacks

Read More: Leaked list: Mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan is "hostile"

But perhaps the most revealing line came again from Sibthorpe, referring to Corbyn's internal opposition.

“If they want to get rid of him, the best thing to do would be wait and let Jeremy fail on his own, I don't think he will, but let Jeremy fail in his own time,” Sibthorpe said.

5. ...But Corbyn remains robust

On his own MPs, Corbyn admitted that he did not receive support from very large numbers of Labour MPs.

While he maintained that the atmosphere in Parliamentary Labour Party sessions has markedly improved, Corbyn admitted: “There are some who are harder fish to catch.”

Speaking after the local and mayoral elections, Corbyn declared himself satisfied with Labour's handful of seat losses, arguing that the party “hung on”.

Read More: Leaked list: Mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan is "hostile"

And questioned on what he would do about those MPs describing the result as insufficient, he responded only: “You will see”.

“I will continue trying to develop the policies of this party, and trying to lead this party in a direction that also has a more grown up approach to politics,” he said.

“I am not a traditional kind of party leader, I do things in a different kind of way. Some people are slower learning than others.”

Related articles