It is 11am, and Jeremy Corbyn is headed to Newcastle from London on a busy train to attend a hustings for the Labour leadership battle with Owen Jones. He sits on the floor of the carriage, something that thousands of commuters are forced to regularly do due to the continued failings of privatised train companies, and films himself discussing problems such as overcrowding and poor regulations. He does this to prove a point: that public ownership of railways is the only way to rectify this chronic issue.
Fast-forward a few days and the media are in a frenzy, claiming that Corbyn sat on the floor despite there being plenty of empty seats, branding him a “hypocrite” and releasing illegitimate CCTV footage.
Whether or not there were unreserved seats available is beside the point – Corbyn has openly spoken about a very real issue faced by thousands of people on a daily basis. A spokesperson has stated that “later in the journey, seats became available after a family were upgraded to first class, and Jeremy and the team he was travelling with were offered the seats by a very helpful member of staff.” Corbyn has time and time again proved himself to be a man of integrity, and so I can find no reason not to believe this.
What I do find blindingly obvious, however, is the way in which the media and Richard Branson’s Virgin Company have collaborated in undermining this act. I wonder why – it isn’t like the owner of a large train company would want to discredit a politician who wants to renationalise trains. Tax-exile Branson, who took £53 million from the taxpayer in the last year alone, has done Corbyn’s leadership an enormous favour whilst failing to embarrass the frontrunner; he has brought an enormous amount of publicity on the failings of train companies that our kept in private hands. Corbyn highlighted this himself; “I hope he’s very well aware of our policy, which is that train operating companies should become part of the public realm, not the private sector.”
What the biased media need to perhaps refocus itself on is the disruption and difficulties so many people face on our countries’ trains, instead of divulging itself in petty, partisan articles.