Jeremy Corbyn's UB40 press conference was the strangest political event we've ever been to

Business Insider attended Jeremy Corbyn’s latest labour leadership campaign press conference on Tuesday afternoon — and it was absolutely bizarre.

The conference, which took place at the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts (RSA) building in central London, attracted plenty of attention when it was announced that 80’s reggae band UB40 would be officially endorsing Corbyn at the event.

However, nobody in the room could have prepared for the utterly surreal 40 minutes which unfolded.

The press conference took place following the announcement of Corbyn’s pledge to make funding for arts opportunities a key priority for his government if he is elected prime minister.

But, bar very briefly in Corbyn’s introductory remarks, the press conference barely touched upon policy or where the Islington North MP plans to spend the money. Instead, it was a chat between himself and UB40 on subjects like their tastes in music, the pros and cons of downloading music online, and how the band goes about writing songs.

At one stage, Corbyn turned to one of the band members and said: “you like classical music too, don’t you?” The journalists in attendance looked each other in bewilderment. Even Corbyn’s supporters looked a bit confused. 

In rare moments of seriousness, Corbyn reiterated his opposition to grammar schools and said the party’s NEC would “look at the allegations” facing MP Keith Vaz before deciding to resign the disgraced former Home Affairs Select Committee chairman.

The BBC asked Corbyn if he would ever consider appearing on the network’s hit reality TV show Strictly Come Dancing.

“I have absolutely no desire to do so,” Corbyn said, “but I wish Ed balls well.”

This wasn’t the press conference of an opposition leader.

It certainly wasn’t the press conference of an opposition leader who is fighting to retain his position after the majority of his MPs tried to overthrow him just a few months ago.

It was ridiculous. Totally surreal.

Owen Smith, who handed out copies of a carefully-put-together mock-up of a Tory election manifesto to all who attended his latest press conference on Monday, must have been watching it wondering what it will take to derail Corbyn’s campaign.

When Smith warned Labour members what awaits them if Corbyn remains opposition leader, the atmosphere was deadly serious. The mood at Corbyn’s latest event was jolly — absurdly so. The Labour leader did not look like someone who fears his position is under threat. In fact, he looked like the very opposite. 

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