We are currently going through a Labour leadership election. You know, cause there just hasn't been enough voting for the British general public over the past few years. Jeremy Corbyn is having his title of Labour leader challenged by Owen Smith, who has set out his stall early as the banter candidate. He is trying to bring a fresh face and fresh japes to the Labour party with his repeated ridiculous remarks in the press. So I feel the only logical option available to me is to analyse the quality of Owen Smith's banter.
Owen Smith clearly sees himself as the presentable face of what a politician should be. A lad in the pub, an animal in the bedroom, a legislator in the Commons. It speaks volumes as to his confidence in his own banter that he feels we should 'get round the table with ISIS.' Clearly he feels that he can defuse generations of war and extremism with a couple of cans and a game of ring of fire. If only he could have been around to banter with Hussain and Bin Laden in the 00's and maybe the japes they got up to together would have made everybody a little less angsty.
Nothing says banter like casual misogyny and bragging about pulling. In an interview with the Mirror, Smith claimed he fought off “hundreds of lads to get [his] wife”, which conjures up the image of him scrapping away in Welsh nightclubs dressed up like Rambo assassinating competitors in the dark. Quite provocative imagery, and one that certainly suggests he has served his time down the banter mines. But it is unclear as to whether he sees himself as part of the 'lads' he describes. Is he a heroic figure, saving his wife from the Fred Perry-wearing hoards? Or does he see himself as king of the lads for claiming the prize of a wife ahead of all the others, perhaps wearing a bucket hat as a crown?
His casual misogyny is on point, with it also being revealed that he said to Plaid Cmyru's Leanne Wood that the reason she was on Newsnight more often was because she was a woman, and also claiming he wanted to knock Theresa May “back on her heels”, whatever that means. While his sexism of course gains him bonus banter points, it takes the form of a belligerent, old-man style of sexism, rather than the type that is in fashion with all the cool-kids now. It's more Jim Davidson than Dapper Laughs. Smith finds himself caught between the two-worlds of retro and millennial banter and risks alienating both because of it. There is also an air of the unauthentic with his delivery as well which is of course customary with a politician. There is none of the white-knuckled ballsiness that Donald Trump typifies.
His dress sense obviously differs from the traditional lad model, as walking into Parliament with a Stone Roses top on is normally frowned upon. However his thick-rimmed glasses do allow for his playful side to come out. You can easily imagine him adjusting them on his face after a whitty-quip to emphasise his sardonic nature. There is the slightest hint of the Thunderbirds about him, which again ties into the retro banter style. Thunderbirds is very much the lad choice of puppet-based spy programme, Captain Scarlet is for nerds. When not in full parliament-mode he can often be seen sporting a smart white shirt with the top-button undone, which aims squarely for the 'a pint after work' look which is popular for the executive lad.
All in all, Owen Smith's banter gets a decent score for his casual misogyny but is marked down for the feeling that he is trying too hard. His banter though is much higher than Jeremy Corbyn, who comes across like the weird flatmate who you invite out due to social pressure but you try and lose him on the way to a club. He seems more interested in talking about manhole covers than birds.
Here is a banter scale for some context going from 'Banter God' on the left to 'Cringe-fest' on the right: