Jeremy Corbyn didn’t bow properly. What a scumbag.
Corbyn’s tenure is in trouble. Not because of anything he’s actually done in the Houses of Parliament, mind. That would be far too a genuine reason for the public to turn against Jeremy. It’s not even because of anything he’s said; no socialist propaganda, or any anti-Semitic attacks which we were warned against immediately prior to his election. Most surprisingly, it’s not even really based on his image. Living in a political system where our MPs are chastised based on their looks and mannerisms (does anyone remember Ed?) there is a lot to be said about Corbyn. His entire wardrobe mirrors that of a substitute geography teacher, in stark contrast to Cameron’s Goldman Sachs sheen, and his scruffy beard would not look out of place in a hostage video. But no. Judging by this week’s news, political strategists have decided the reason that Jez 2020 will fail is his bowing technique.
At the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph, the assorted Twitterati and political journalists adjudicated that Corbyn’s bow was a substandard effort. My favourite paper, the Daily Mail, even went so far as to have three assorted stories about this misdemeanour on their online site. Headlined “Call that a bow?” the meat of the primary article was constituted of both tweets and photographic evidence that his attempt was “noticeably less emphatic than the others.” Judging by the media reaction, this single event has managed to overshadow the tragedy of two world wars, the pomp and circumstance of the occasion, and a rare Tim Farron sighting. What a time to be alive.
There is of course a certain skill to the perfect bow, which Corbyn hasn’t yet managed to perfect. Let’s give him a chance – he’s new to the job. On the off-chance he’s reading this, here’s a three step guide, Bowing 1.0:
- Troubled expression: Gives an appearance of solemn understanding, and that you haven’t just won the opportunity to attend the event on the back of a cereal box.
- An angle of 120 degrees or less: any lapse makes it seem as if you put back pain before political gain.
- Stay lowered long enough for the lenses to snap – topical profile picture maybe?
Of course, our other major party leaders have no problem bowing right? For example, here’s David Cameron bowing to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to show his respect for the man. Notice the eyes cast humbly at the floor, his sideburns perfectly coiffured; Cameron is a consummate professional. Not immediately obvious in the picture is the human rights record of the man he’s bowing to. Thousands of migrant workers were arrested and deported immediately after concluding their work in Saudi Arabia, their treatment of women is frankly abhorrent, and the sanctions imposed on anybody who speaks out against the state is roughly equal to what Kim Jong Un does for the same offence. So think about this question. What is a worse bow, a well-intentioned bow badly executed, or a well-executed bow with misguided intentions?
The furore generated by Corbyn’s bow today should have been predictable, particularly after the controversies of “not singing the national anthem loudly enough” and “being seen once in public without a poppy”. He should have known that people are looking for any excuse to vilify him, and perhaps bowed 5cm lower. But is an arbitrary drop of the head really something that should be reported on, or indeed cared about? Looking at it from another angle, surely Corbyn’s nod is preferable to bowing merely for the sake of the cameras. To my mind, even actually caring an iota for how you look when you are meant to be honouring the sacrifices of the world wars is petty politics taken too far.
Corbyn recited Wilfred Owen’s war poem Futility today, a concept he must feel very aware of. Any action he chooses will immediately be seized upon, and most likely mocked in the press the next day, in a way that no other current politician is currently experiencing. The most futile thing he could do is engage with it, or even try to change. A new problem will be found. Bowing too deeply, shedding crocodile tears, not enough poppies on the wreath… next Remembrance Day’s story can already be predicted.
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