It's safe to say that Jeremy Corbyn's relationship with the mainstream media (MSM) can hardly be described as a harmonious meeting of minds. In fact, ever since Corbyn was elected as Labour leader he has regularly hit out at the MSM, even finding time in his conference speech to name and shame certain publications for their coverage of his campaign. So hacks gathered at Labour's HQ for his Christmas press drinks with a degree of trepidation.
While David Cameron's press drinks the day before had included a range of hot restaurant-style canapés for guests, Labour staffers took a more relaxed approach offering popcorn and clementines. Despite concerns that Corbyn would be a no-show at his own bash, the Labour leader arrived at the party on time and proceeded to perform a charm offensive on hacks in the room. After Corbyn worked his way through the groups of journalists in attendance, he took to the mic to deliver a speech in which he appeared to offer an olive branch to the MSM:
'This gathering is unexpected and unusual, and on one level yours and my worst nightmare.'
He then proceeded to thank the national papers for the media attention he had received:
'Also to say thank you very much for all the coverage I've been given in the papers over the last few months -- I've kept you going. I want to thank a number of papers really.'
'I also want to say for me -- in absolute degree of seriousness -- it's been an absolutely fascinating and quite amazing year. As you know, I was an absolutely popular choice in the parliamentary Labour party to be a candidate for the leadership. We had that summer of campaigning and it did open up something in politics, I hope you all recognise that.'
Corbyn went on to explain that -- contrary to popular opinion -- he is a champion of journalists and a member of the NUJ. However, as supportive as he is, Corbyn will not interact with journalists outside his home:
'I don't do any interviews whatsoever -- never ever -- outside my front door, if you wish to come there that's absolutely fine but don't tread on the bulbs out front, they're growing well.'
With that, guests rushed to the bar to celebrate the Labour truce. Corbyn helped his colleagues behind the bar by volunteering his services as a waiter, pouring wine and opening beers for thirsty hacks — although he informed one hack 'we only serve red' — as they toasted a new chapter in media relations...so long as the cameramen stay away from Corbyn's bulbs.