Jeremy Corbyn, coming to a TV screen near youWikimedia Commons

Gogglebox, for the uninitiated, is a reality show featuring couples and friends reacting to TV shows. If you’ve never seen it before, you’re probably not sold, but let me tell you: Gogglebox is surprisingly engaging. It has relatable content and a recurring cast you’ll grow to love, but it’s the narration that takes the biscuit. The writers of The Royle Family, Craig Cash and the late Caroline Aherne, inject life into the show when its participants are lacking.

It’s perhaps not so surprising that Corbyn has decided to appear on a special edition of Gogglebox. Sitting and watching the sort of TV that ordinary people watch and making the sorts of comments that ordinary people make strengthens his ‘man of the people’ image. It doesn’t hurt that the show has already proved able to turn perfectly normal people into comedic geniuses through clever narration and no doubt yards of film on the cutting room floor.

“You don’t need me to tell you that the rise of social media has changed things for good. Yet voter apathy is at its highest”

The appearance should set him even further apart from Theresa May, who I find it hard to imagine sitting still for long enough to watch Eastenders once, let alone enough times to come up with a good joke.

Even a casual observer (get it?) can tell that politics is changing in the 21st century. You don’t need me to tell you that the rise of social media has changed things for good. Yet voter apathy has reached new heights. Turnout at the 2001 general election was abysmal, and while it’s beginning to climb, we’re still nowhere near pre-World War II levels of engagement.

You can’t force people to be interested in politics. Turgid speeches which justify an annual subscription to might appeal to the ‘in-crowd’, but Joe Bloggs couldn’t give a monkey’s about buzzwords and doublespeak.

I don’t care about football. I’m sorry - no matter how well you do your footballing, I’m not going to pay attention to you. This is fine: I can get by, ignorant of football, and you wouldn’t want me watching you anyway.

In the context of politics, it’s not so fine. The stuff politicians do really makes a difference to everybody’s lives, and people should be interested. But if they’re not, the answer isn’t to shove more of the same down their throats, it’s to do something new and different.

I think Corbyn’s one step ahead of the curve here. Gogglebox is popular, Prime Minister’s Question Time is not. If you want to be interesting or liked, you have to go and do things that people like and find interesting. It’s not rocket science.

I’m probably preaching to the choir. Nationally speaking, Cambridge had a relatively high turnout at the 2017 general election. But there are other political causes which matter to Cambridge students, like CUSU and JCRs, and in these arenas, apathy wins.

It’s time for student unions to stop complaining that nobody comes to meetings or votes in elections, and start getting people interested. Start doing things that people care about. If you’re already doing things that people care about: talk about them! And not in some stupidly long weekly update. Make your emails short and sweet. Use Facebook. Be funny. Be human.

When professional politicians are ahead of passionate students, something is genuinely wrong. We don’t have to play by the rules. We can be agile. If society is changing, we need to change with it.


Mountain View

How do we explain the cult of Corbyn?

After reflecting on Corbyn, I’ve decided to take the red pill and start making the Corpus Christi JCR more palatable. First, from now on my entire Facebook profile will be public - I’m a real person. Second, I’ll never send an email to the whole of College with more than five sentences in it. Third, I’ll use the JCR Facebook page to post useful, relevant, and funny content.

I’m not going to pretend that Corpus has always been exemplary in this department, but from today I want us to lead the way in Cambridge student politics. Will anybody join me?

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