With less than a month to go to the General Election Jeremy Corbyn could do with some supportive headlines. But instead the old-fashioned, unassuming, low-key Leftie is getting a Press battering. A study by Loughborough University, this week, reports the Labour Party, and Jeremy in particular, are metorphorically drowning in a sea of negative news. Probably best known for being a figure of perpetual protest, opposing military interventions and the nasty bits of capitalism, Jeremy is a committed socialist. With a beard. And a bike.
And a vegan who prefers not to drink. With hobbies that include, vegetable-growing, jam-making, train-spotting, and an interest in the history and design of manhole covers.
He’s an easy target then.
But Brits love an outsider, and don’t mind a throwback. But this Labour leader, who won’t play the political game, looks like he’s lost his footing.
And herein maybe lies his problem. He’s getting love (almost an icon to certain members of his party) but he’s not giving love; many Labour voters feel neglected. He could be much more groovy; turn his old-school style into retro-cool to win the youth vote (Mrs May’s schoolmarm approach is way too scary for most twenty somethings) but he doesn’t seem to be too bothered. He’s got the hang of social media – a regular Tweeter – but the kids are all on Instagram. He hates his privacy being invaded. So instead of turning media and public encounters into useful soundbites, he looks grumpy and offended. As Mrs May stomps around the country banging on about stability, he could be much more contrasting – show he cares, instead he looks… weak. Mrs May isn’t a player, winning over the Press with smooze and smoke. She’s on a mission, delivering her message of “My Way” at every opportunity. But Corbyn won’t hobnob, he won’t shout, and he’s won’t put himself fully forward either.
Time is ticking on, and maybe Corbyn has missed his opportunity. Britain wants a leader who cares and shares and, with the balls, to get us out of Europe, unbloodied. A principled doer, he could be that man…
‘Have you no courage?
At any time revive your soul with Borage…
Sirrup of Borage will make sad men glad
And the same sirrup doth restore the mad.’
‘The art of longevity’ Edmund Gayton (1608-1666)
Borage, the pretty purple starflower, said to derive from the Celtic word borrach, meaning “man of courage” could just be the fortification he now needs.
Indigenous to Syria, borage now grows wild all along the Mediterranean and is cultivated throughout Europe for its healing and culinary properties. Sautéed or steamed or raw and added to salads, the leaves are lightly cucumber-flavored. The flowers are edible too and can be candied for cake decorations or made into honey. In Italy borage is served as a side dish, like a serving of vegetables. Jeremy might well grow the flower as a companion plant to tomatoes and strawberries on his allotment.
Borage was first used during Roman times, with naturalists reporting it could be used to “dispel melancholy and induce euphoria.” Pliny the Elder, in his works Historia Naturalis, said that borage worked well as an antidepressant, and said it had the ability to “maketh a man merry and joyfull”.
The Romans would also mix borage leaves with tea and wine before battle, to fortify themselves for combat with the saying, “Ego Borago, Gaudia semper ago” (I, Borage, bring always courage). This tradition continued through the time of the Crusaders campaigns, and into medieval times when men had borage flowers embroidered on their battle dress.
Later borage was known as a crucial ingredient in a sweet alcoholic punch made with brandy, sherry, cider, lemon juice and sugar. Charles Dickens is often said to have enjoyed this drink very much.
But for virtual tee-totaller Corbyn, these uses are unlikely to have much sway. Instead Labour supporters should gift him a bunch or few, like the Victorians did, to encourage bluntness, directness, and speaking up.
So Jeremy don’t read all that negative press, have some Borage instead. It may just well bring “lightness and ebullience to the soul, filling it with optimism and enthusiasm.” Surely that’s a tonic, worth a go.
Featured Image: Photograph: Official Jeremy Corbyn Channel / YouTube