Welcome to Angus Take House – a weekly column in which I pit two of the wildest takes the world's great thinkers have rustled up against each other. This is your one-stop shop for the meatiest verdicts and saltiest angles on the world's happenings. Go and grab a napkin – these juicy hot takes are fresh from the griddle.
What's the story? Jeremy Corbyn wore a raincoat to lay a wreath on Remembrance Sunday.
Reasonable Take: Oh, it must have been raining.
Poppyseed Muffin: Honestly, I think, maybe, he should be shot.
Last Sunday, Britain reflected on 100 years since the end of WWI. It was a fittingly sombre occasion, as people across the country found their own ways to honour the fallen. The Barbour shop had a very tasteful window display, the pitch at the Etihad was covered in a poppy the size of a swimming pool and darts player Peter Wright even saw fit to dedicate the back flank of his scalp to the fallen. Heck, I even saw a pug wearing a poppy! Yet, sadly, the message didn’t get through to one man. One man who seemed intent on mocking the sacrifice of the many, a man who who hates our country so much he probably wishes the IRA had won the first world war.
Last year, he had the nerve to dance a jig while on his way to the cenotaph, an incident which clearly gave him a taste for Maximum Disrespect – a taste he was hellbent on sampling again this year. That's right: Mr Corbyn wore a coat with a hood to the Cenotaph. Bow your head in shame, you filthy mugwump.
Kicking off one of two coat debacles this week, the Labour leader made the fatal error of wearing a raincoat with a hood to the Cenotaph, sparking an incredibly limited backlash among a small faction of Poppy Ultras on Twitter. So limited, in fact, there was barely a story. Just a few people who already hate the Labour leader making a song and dance out of the only thing they could find to pick on. If it wasn't the coat, it would have been his shirt; if it hadn't been his shirt, they'd no doubt have found something wrong with the way he'd tied his laces – "Corbyn can't even double knot on poppy day, no respect disgusting x".
The rebuttals came in thick and fast from Corbyn supporters, of course. "Corbyn wears a coat and everyone loses their shit, but nobody bats an eyelid at the 'war criminals' and 'arms dealers' from previous and current governments standing all around him," was one popular defence. Many also pointed out that most of the people denouncing Corbyn's disrespect did so during, or in the moments after, the two-minute silence, exposing just how far remembrance has come from actually remembering anything.
Really, though, the biggest losers in the whole farce were the media who covered the story. Quite unlike the actual scale of the criticism, you'd be forgiven for thinking Corbyn was the cause of some irrepressible public unrest in the home counties. The Metro, the Independent, the Telegraph, the Daily Mail and Joe.co.uk all managed to wring a news story out of Corbyn's critics "lambasting" him for his choice of dress, by compiling four tweets from accounts with less than 200 followers and "grandad to daniel" in their bios. If they’d, you know, ignored that handful of tweets, it’s doubtful the rest of the country would have ended up spending the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI thinking about whether or not an old bloke's hood is reverent enough.
What's the story? Somebody else wore a coat – well, a jacket. This time it was the Democratic Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She has recently spoken about her financial concerns ahead of her move to Washington to become a member of Congress.
Reasonable Take: Surely America, with everything they've got to deal with, won't have wasted time reading into a coat like us daft Brits.
Jacket Potato: How can you speak for the people when you own a coat? Disgusting.
Nice bit of symmetry this. You see, it's not just the British who attempt to weaponise irrelevant details in the pursuit of preordained agendas. This week, journalist Eddie Scarry of The Washington Examiner posted a picture of the back of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, captioned: "Hill staffer sent me this pic of Ocasio-Cortez they took just now. I'll tell you something: that jacket and coat don’t look like a girl who struggles."
There's been a lot of attention like this on Ocasio-Cortez since she first rose to prominence this year as an outsider shot for New York's 14th district congressional representative (a Democratic safe-seat). She was young, left-wing and lacked the financial backing of her rival, Democrat heavyweight Joe Crowley, who had been in Congress since 1999 – yet, despite all that, led a grassroots campaign that secured her the nomination and eventually won her the seat. Now, America's right – and much of its centre – have been picking holes in her success, much of which has been focused on the legitimacy of her claims to being working class. Initially this scrutiny was focused on which neighbourhood she grew up in, but now that's failed critics have gone for the jugular: her jacket and coat.
It's a strange line of attack. The coat and jacket are pretty plain – nothing like the flashy hooded variety some more disrespectful politicians favour (shame on you, Mr Corbyn, shame on you). What's more, it’s hard to see how "owning a coat" has any bearing on whether or not she can pay her rent in Washington, a logic that suggests the only measurable categories of wealth are: "comfortably living in a nice apartment" or "has no clothes". What this comes down to are the same bullshit markers of class via cultural authenticity we’re used to in the UK – Islington’s champagne socialists don’t understand real patriotic English people blah, blah, blah. I interviewed writer Joe Kennedy, who wrote a book on the subject, earlier this year and we spoke about how this trend would begin to emerge in America. As the centre begins to feel threatened by the left, they look to discredit them. They can’t do this with ideas – the centre doesn’t really have any ideas, just "let’s keep things ticking over" – so they have to do it with bizarre personal digs, stirring up resentment where there is none.
Scarry has since deleted the tweet, arguing it had been "taken in the wrong way". Despite this, in an interview with political blog Talking Points Memo, he doubled-down, saying: "Just looking at the picture and knowing the things she has said in public about herself, about being mistaken for an intern, I saw it and just thought, 'This does not look like someone who has experienced that.'" He added this it was only a "matter of observation" but that "It just didn’t seem to jibe quite right." Scarry stuff!
PRIME CUT: Mr Corbyn, consider this your final warning. Put on a proper coat, do up your tie, and sing the national anthem!