There’s a stereotypical elderly Brexiter who frequents my local pub.
You know the type. In his 70s, lifelong Tory, Farage fan, little Englander. Likes to rant about how Britain needs to “take back control“, “just walk away” from the Brexit negotiations, and how we should tell Merkel and Macron to “shove off” etc etc. Every pub has at least one.
But my irritation at having to listen to his right-wing, delusional bullshit was considerably eased when he once happened to mention to me what huge Jeremy Corbyn fans his two beloved grand-daughters were.
He shook his head in genuine pain as he described how he had tried to explain to them so many times why they couldn’t – just couldn’t – even think about voting for such a “dangerous” man like Corbyn.
So you can imagine how happy I was when I had the unexpected pleasure recently of meeting the two young women when he took his grand-daughters to the pub quiz night.
They didn’t look like the extremist members of Momentum portrayed by the tabloids – they looked just like typical young 19/20-year-old women.
“Your grandfather tells me you’re both Jeremy Corbyn fans?” I asked them later on in the evening.
“Yes,” one of them said, her eyes raised to heaven. “But he keeps going on about how he’s a friend of terrorists, a closet Communist and all that other Daily Mail rubbish. He really should stop reading that drivel. But it’s OK. We don’t argue. We just let him get on with it.”
It was then, at that precise moment, I understood something really quite fundamental was happening.
Here finally, was a younger generation who the right-wing press could not only no longer reach – but their attacks and smears were having the opposite effect.
It reminded me of when I was about the same age and I visited an elderly aunt, who told me I should iron my trousers better because the creases “weren’t visible.”
“But they’re jeans,” I started to explain to her, before realising it wasn’t worth explaining the difference between denim jeans and other trousers to someone so old and so out-of-touch.
‘Don’t argue. Just let her get on with it,’ I thought. Because at the age of 20, an elderly aunt approving of my dress-sense would have been far more worrying.
That’s why the right-wing press have shot their bolt when it comes to Jeremy Corbyn. They’ve spent so long, so ridiculously, so strongly smearing him with their ridiculous fake news about dancing or not bowing on Remembrance Sunday, or smears about sitting on over-crowded trains, or false accusations of anti-semitism or lies about supporting terrorism or whatever, that younger people don’t just disagree with it. They’re actually amused by it all.
To the younger generation, the right-wing press are not just out-of-touch. It’s much, much worse than that. They are utterly, utterly irrelevant.
And the press is starting to realise it. Since the last election – when it became clear Corbyn was not being damaged but was being boosted by the attacks on him – the tabloids have all but stopped the literally weekly smears that used to appear against the Labour leader.
Because they know it’s no longer working, and probably even having the opposite effect.
The only way Murdoch, Dacre et al could even try to influence the younger generations now to turn against Jeremy Corbyn, would be to start praising him to the hilt.
Because then younger people might think twice before agreeing with what they probably see as the rather amusing but spectacularly irrelevant mouthpieces of a generation whose opinions are so out-of-touch and insignificant, they probably still think jeans should have creases in them.
Expect more clampdowns on social media as the panic on Fleet Street and in Downing Street at the loss of their influence becomes blind …