Jeremy Corbyn is to attempt to copy Donald Trump as he aims to get his leadership of the Labour Party back on track.
The left-winger’s advisers have adopted a new strategy that includes many of the tactics used by the US President-elect, including attacks on the media and intentionally drawing attention to negative stories.
Mr Corbyn’s inner circle are said to be alarmed at the party’s poll ratings, which currently see it trailing the Conservatives by between 10 and 15 points.
One senior party official told Politico: “What we have been doing has not worked, we know that. There is no bunker mentality. We have got to change tack.”
Labour strategists believe their best advantage is the fact Mr Corbyn is seen as honest and authentic – a strength they hope to exploit in the coming months.
The new strategy was agreed at a meeting of senior staffers during the Christmas break and is endorsed by Mr Corbyn himself.
During the US presidential election campaign, Mr Trump frequently highlighted attacks on him by mainstream media outlets, such as CNN and The New York Times, as evidence of him taking on the establishment – a tactic Mr Corbyn is expected to adopt.
A Corbyn adviser said: “We’re going to use the levity of the media against them. We have been in a constant defensive mode and that just hasn’t worked.”
The most ridiculous claims made about Jeremy Corbyn
The most ridiculous claims made about Jeremy Corbyn
1/11 He called Hezbollah and Hamas ‘friends’
True. In a speech made to the Stop the War Coalition in 2009, Mr Corbyn called representatives from both groups “friends” after inviting them to Parliament. He later told Channel 4 he wanted both groups, who have factions designated as international terror organisations, to be “part of the debate” for the Middle East peace process. “I use (the word ‘friends’) in a collective way, saying our friends are prepared to talk,” he added. “Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hezbollah and what they do? No.”
2/11 ‘Jeremy Corbyn thinks the death of Osama bin Laden was a tragedy’
Partly false. David Cameron used this as a line of attack at the Conservative Party conference but appears to have left out all context from Mr Corbyn’s original remarks. In an 2011 interview on Iranian television, the then-backbencher said the fact the al-Qaeda leader was not put on trial was the tragedy, continuing: “The World Trade Center was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy.”
3/11 He is ‘haunted’ by the legacy of his ‘evil’ great-great-grandfather
False. A Daily Express exposé revealed that the Labour leader’s ancestor, James Sargent, was the “despotic” master of a Victorian workhouse. Addressing the report at the Labour conference, Mr Corbyn said he had never heard of him before, adding: “I want to take this opportunity to apologise for not doing the decent thing and going back in time and having a chat with him about his appalling behaviour.”
4/11 Jeremy Corbyn raised a motion about ‘pigeon bombs’ in Parliament
This one is true. On 21 May 2004, Mr Corbyn raised an early day motion entitled “pigeon bombs”, proposing that the House register being “appalled but barely surprised” that MI5 reportedly proposed to load pigeons with explosives as a weapon. The motion continued: “The House… believes that humans represent the most obscene, perverted, cruel, uncivilised and lethal species ever to inhabit the planet and looks forward to the day when the inevitable asteroid slams into the earth and wipes them out thus giving nature the opportunity to start again.” It was not carried.
5/11 He rides a Communist bicycle
False. A report in The Times referred to Mr Corbyn, known for his cycling, riding a “Chairman Mao-style bicycle” earlier this year. “Less thorough journalists might have referred to it as just a bicycle, but no, so we have to conclude that whenever we see somebody on a bicycle from now on, there goes another supporter of Chairman Mao,” he later joked.
6/11 'Jeremy Corbyn will appoint a special minister for Jews'
False so far. The Sun report in December was allegedly based on a “rumour” passed to the paper by a Daily Express columnist who has written pieces critical of the Labour leader in the past. The minister did not materialise in his shadow cabinet.
7/11 ‘Jeremy Corbyn wishes Britain would abolish its Army’
False. Another gem from The Sun took comments made at a Hiroshima remembrance parade in August 2012 where Mr Corbyn supported Costa Rica’s move to abolish it armed forces. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every politician around the world…abolished the army and took pride in the fact that they don’t have an army,” he added. The caveat that “every politician” must take the step suggests Mr Corbyn does not support UK disarmament just yet.
8/11 Jeremy Corbyn stole sandwiches meant for veterans
False. The Guido Fawkes blog claimed that the Labour leader took sandwiches meant for veterans at at Battle of Britain memorial service in September but a photo later emerged showing him being handed one by Costa volunteers, who later confirmed they were given to all guests.
9/11 He missed the induction into the Queen’s privy council
True. After much speculation about Mr Corbyn’s republican views and willingness to bow to the monarch, his office confirmed that he did not attend the official induction to the privy council because of a prior engagement, but did not rule out joining the body.
10/11 Jeremy Corbyn refuses to sing the national anthem.
Partly true. The Labour leader was filmed standing in silence as God Save the Queen was sung at a Battle of Britain remembrance service but will reportedly sing it in future. Mr Corbyn was elusive on the issue in an interview, saying he would show memorials “respect in the proper way”, but sources said he would sing the anthem at future occasions.
11/11 He is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cheese
True. The group lists its purpose as the following: “To increase awareness of issues surrounding the dairy industry and focus on economic issues affecting the dairy industry and producers.”
Senior Labour officials are said to have become more relaxed about message discipline and now favour a “let Corbyn be Corbyn” strategy, in which the leader will be free to speak his mind – even if it results in negative publicity. After the Labour leader was criticised for not being visible over Christmas, his team have reached a stage where they believe bad publicity is better than no publicity.
Labour also plans to use Trump-style rallies to get its message across and secure media coverage. Mr Corbyn’s previous rallies have frequently attracted thousands of supporters but were dismissed by opponents as preaching to the converted and having little impact on the wider electorate.
As part of a potential speaking tour, Mr Corbyn’s team want to use promises of infrastructure investment to win over voters across the country. Mr Trump’s pledges of new spending in various US states helped convince swing voters in key states, and Labour hopes its promise of a £500bn investment boost will be similarly successful.
An adviser said: “When you go somewhere and say we’ll build this bridge or this bypass, then it becomes tangible, something they can vote for.
Mr Corbyn’s team will seek to portray him as an anti-establishment figure in the hope of riding a wave of populist sentiment that has rolled across the west in the recent years.
This shift is already becoming apparent, with a spokesman for the Labour leader telling The Independent: “Labour under Jeremy Corbyn will be taking its case to every part of Britain in the coming months with a radical policy platform, offering the only genuine alternative to a failed parliamentary political establishment and the fake anti-elitists of the hard right.”
Mr Trump’s election in the US was preceded by success for populist politicians in Greece and Spain, the rise of Ukip in UK and the Scottish National Party unseating Labour in Scotland.
Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right French Front National, is expected to do well in this year’s presidential election, as is left-wing populist Jean-Luc Melenchon. In Italy, comedian Beppe Grillo’s populist message has catapulted him onto the political stage. Labour hopes Mr Corbyn will be next in line for success.