The Guardian view on traingate: Jeremy Corbyn’s search for standing | Editorial
The row between Richard Branson and the Labour leader about seats on trains may seem trivial but it embodies many large lessons for politics and journalism
On Twitter this week the mystery of Jeremy Corbyn’s train seat quickly became simply #traingate, trailing clouds of speculation, wit and invective across the digital world. To older print readers the story was perhaps familiar, a recognisably August silly season tale, in which starved summer news hounds gorge on every detail of something unexpected. Television rolling newscasters gratefully chewed the juicy bone that had come their way too. Meanwhile, conspiracy theorists came up with the ingenious thought that Richard Branson may have launched his challenge to the Labour leader so that Virgin would dominate the news cycle on a day when his rival British Airways was pulling off a PR coup by flying Team GB back to London from Rio.
No one can pretend that traingate is one of most important news stories of the era. All the same it is a very emblematic tale of our times. For one thing, it would not have happened in the pre-internet age at all, because even if Mr Corbyn had actually been compelled to sit on a train carriage floor on the way to Newcastle a generation ago, no one would have been there to capture an image of it, no newspaper would have been able to post the video of his denunciation of privatisation, and there would have been no CCTV footage of him walking past unreserved and unoccupied seats either. Whether the whole thing was an amateurish political stunt by the Labour leader, as Mr Branson implies, or rotten treatment by a privatised company, as Mr Corbyn claimed, no one else would have ever heard about it anyway.
Source: Guardian Transport