Good afternoon and welcome to another day in the challenging and competitive online media landscape! Today we're looking at the salacious and not entirely unerotic online phenomenon of teenagers calling Jeremy Corbyn "Daddy" on social media. I'm writing about this mostly because my editor asked me to—no way would I pitch something that veers so perilously close to my own specific and highly niche late-night browsing history! I'm already on shaky ground with my extremely loose-knit Middle Eastern family after that piece I wrote about almost shitting myself, and the last thing I want is further public shame. But this is an important and necessary story to be told, so here we go.
For the benefit of our international readers: Jeremy Corbyn is the leader of the left-wing Labour party, which is currently fighting the upcoming British general election against the incumbent, right-wing Conservative government. Corbyn attracts admiration and scorn in (sadly) uneven measure. Although Corbyn is beloved of grime artists, young people, and people who believe in the actual redistribution of wealth it's all but guaranteed the Conservatives will win the upcoming election and with it, usher in another five years of heartless, cynical rule.
A long-time champion of socialist causes, Corbyn spent decades on the far-left of the Labour before his shock election as leader in 2015. (Here's a cute picture of him being arrested at an anti-apartheid protest in 1984—doesn't he look great?) Incidentally, Corbyn is also an actual daddy, having three sons—Thomas, Benjamin, and Seb—to whom I apologize in advance for what I'm about to write.
"I don't call anyone else 'daddy,' at least not for free," says 18-year-old nursery worker Emily* from Kent, who tweeted "save us daddy" at Corbyn in April. In all seriousness, Emily wants me to know this isn't a sexual thing—she just situates Corbyn within a historical lineage of great and occasionally genocidal 20th century communist daddies, like Lenin.
"The times where I referred to Corbyn as 'daddy' on social media were in retrospect reflective of the comparison between Corbyn and left-wing political icons such as Lenin and Marx," Emily explains. "These men were often referred to as the 'fathers' of communism and 'daddy' is simply the modern equivalent.'"
"I love him," enthuses 18-year-old Ethan Hogan. "I think he's one of the only few good men in politics, if I'm honest. I think he could really lead this country." What Hogan—a student from Merseyside—does not love however, is the short shrift Corbyn gets from the right-wing British tabloid press."Sick of seeing negative articles about my sugar daddy Jeremy Corbyn," he tweeted from his account @_Ethxn_ earlier this month.
"I added 'daddy' into the tweet because I thought it would add humor," he explains matter-of-factly. "I call loads of male celebrities 'daddy' all the time, like Harry Styles." Is Corbyn as sexually attractive as Harry Styles? "I don't think Jeremy Corbyn is as attractive now," he responds. "But a younger Jeremy Corbyn? Absolutely."
(By the way, the consensus amongst pretty much all the teenagers I spoke to for this piece was that they'd do the bang with a younger Corbyn, but an older Corbyn is, unfortunately, a bit old for them.)
Watch: When JME Met Jeremy
Exactly like eating the flesh of your enemy to imbibe their strength, calling Corbyn "daddy" on Twitter can impart some kind of spiritual advantage. "It's about channeling his power," confirms 18-year-old Harry from Cumbria, who tweeted "come on Daddy let's get you elected" this month. "Using the term 'daddy' gives him a dominant stance that, to me, makes him powerful." In addition to his mature understanding of the semiotics of power, Harry's political acumen is on point. "He won't get anywhere near the doors of Number 10," he acknowledges sadly.
Harry is correct. The latest polls show that Corbyn will not get the keys to government any time soon, a fact that all the teens I spoke to knew very well. "I think Corbyn's policies are by far the best, but I don't think he'll win," says 18-year-old Claddagh Róisín (@clxddxgh). The Belfast waitress was an early champion of Corbyn's paternal credentials, tweeting "Corbyn is daddy material" as far back December 2015.
"May knew what she was doing by calling an election when she did, and Labour has become too decimated as a result of constant infighting for them to catch up. I wish I could say otherwise," Róisín adds, "because I don't know if my community can survive another five years of Tory rule, given their malicious policies towards GRT [gypsy, Roma, and traveller] people and their blatant disregard for the constitutional issue that Brexit could potentially cause in Northern Ireland."
Sadly, while today's politically conscious teens might think Corbyn is the number one daddy, the British electorate will likely disagree with them come election day on June 8. Until then, we'll have to take what scant comfort we can.
"I get a thrill from his political ideas and I want him to be a strong leader," says Harry, "but the only way I can do that right now is by calling him 'daddy.' That gives him the authority the British electorate will not."
Labour did not return our request for comment.