Michael Foot at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday 1981 wearing the ‘donkey jacket’ that wasn’t pic.twitter.com/aPRxo3ngoI
— TSE (@TSEofPB) September 11, 2015
Mr Corbyn needs to choose his wardrobe and words very carefully
If as expected Labour elect Jeremy Corbyn, his first official appearance as Leader of Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition won’t be Prime Minister’s Questions next Wednesday but a day earlier when the new Labour Leader should be attending a commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Battle of Britain alongside David Cameron and others.
As the picture in the above tweet shows the choice of clothing at these type of events can haunt Leaders of the Opposition, even if the reality is vastly different to the perceptions. That’s because in politics sometimes perceptions matter more than the facts. If Michael Foot wasn’t perceived to be such a poor leader then the ‘donkey jacket’ wouldn’t have become such an issue.
As Ed Miliband can testify the Conservative Party is quite ruthless and brutal when it comes to using national security to question your fitness to be Prime Minister as they told the country during the general election campaign that Ed Miliband would stab the country in the back like he did his brother when talk of a potential alliance with the SNP and not replacing our Trident nuclear deterrent was mooted.
It was a very public political waterboarding that Ed Miliband experienced, just imagine the fun the Conservatives will have with someone with an even more interesting back story and ‘friends’ than Ed Miliband. Already the Conservatives are saying Corbyn is a risk to the security of the UK.
The Battle of Britain was the RAF’s finest hour and one of the pivotal moments in this country’s and the world’s history. Given past form you can see Corbyn dressing in a way that would seem inappropriate for the event. He might also use the events on Tuesday to criticise the RAF (such as the contentious bombing of Dresden) and the British military in general. Such a move would be reckless, it would give the Conservatives an opportunity to present Corbyn as unpatriotic and unfit to lead the country to the wider electorate.
As the old maxim goes, you only get one opportunity to make a first impression, Corbyn should use it to make a positive impression to the wider electorate and not a controversial impression.