Since becoming Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has had his views put under spotlight like never before. Used to the cosy love-ins that were his speech circuits with guaranteed sympathetic audiences of students and CND members, Corbyn’s world view is now being seen by the wider electorate, and they make for troubling reading.
Between 1986 and 1992 the then backbencher attended and spoke each year at the annual “Connolly/Sands” commemoration in London to honour dead and imprisoned IRA terrorists. The 1987 event praised “the soldiers of the IRA” saying “we are proud of our people and the revolutionaries who are an integral part of that people. The programme for the 1988 event, held one week after three IRA murders in the Netherlands, states “force of arms is the only method capable of bringing about a free and united socialist Ireland.” Tellingly, Corbyn even used the event to criticise the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the precursor of the Northern Ireland peace process.
At the time of the Brighton Bombing Jeremy Corbyn was general secretary of the editorial board of the magazine Labour Briefing. According to sources interviewed by the Telegraph, the magazine initially made a stance condemning the Brighton Bombings, but changed its position when many supporters indicated they were sympathetic to the attempt to kill Margaret Thatcher. The magazine said “The British only sit up and take notice when they are bombed into it”. The bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton killed five and left thirty one injured, including the wife of Norman Tebbit who was left permanently disabled, however this didn’t stop the magazine making light of the attack, publishing jokes about the injured including “Try riding your bike now, Norman” referring to his now paralysed wife.
In 2004 Jeremy Corbyn’s closest ally in Parliament, now Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, was given a special award by Sinn Fein for the “unfailing political and personal support he has given to the republican community in the Six Counties over many years”.
In a telephone interview during the Labour leadership campaign Corybn was asked five times by the BBC presenter whether he condemned murders committed by the IRA. Corbyn eventually said “I condemn what was done by the British Army as well as the other sides” before the line went dead.
Arguably the thorniest and easily the most disturbing criticism of Corbyn has been his tolerance and even friendship with openly anti-Semitic individuals and groups. The most infamous comment was Corbyn telling us how much of “an honour and a pleasure” it was “to host our friends from Hamas and Hezbollah” in parliament. To put that in context, here’s a direct quote from Hamas’s charter “The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, sad: ‘The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him’.”
Keeping with the anti-Semitic apologist theme, Corbyn took tea with Raed Salah on the parliamentary terrace. Salah had been charged with inciting anti-Jewish racism and violence in 2008 in and sentenced to eight months in prison. Courts ruled that Salah had used the “blood libel”, a medieval anti-Semitic canard that Jews use gentile blood for ritual purposes.
Corbyn presented a call in programme on the notorious Press-TV channel, a media outlet run by the Iranian government, which is banned by Ofcom for regularly hosting Holocaust deniers.
The Labour Leader has been accused of donating money to the unashamedly Holocaust denying Paul Eisen whose own group has been spurned by the pressure group Palestine Solidarity Campaign for ignoring anti-Semitism in its ranks. Then there was the scheduled, later cancelled, platform sharing with Carlos Latuff, a regular publisher of anti-Semitic cartoons.
Sticking with the Middle East, on an interview with Andrew Marr Jeremy Corbyn advocated back channel talks with ISIS, stating that “dialogue is perhaps the wrong word to use, I think there has to be some understanding of where their strong points are”. Corbyn failed to clarify which ISIS policy was in his opinion their strongest – slavery, burning prisoners alive, crucifixion, execution of homosexuals, or the systemic rape of women and young girls.
On the same interview Corbyn called for the UK to reach a “reasonable accommodation” with Argentina over the Falkland Islands. This comes after a recent referendum on the islands in which only three people expressed a desire to revise their status as British citizens. Indeed, a poll conducted in 2012 showed 61 percent of people supporting the defence of the Falklands “at any cost”.
And if there were any doubt as to whose side Corbyn is on, the outgoing Argentinian ambassador to the UK called Jeremy Corbyn “one of ours”.
Turning to Eastern Europe, Jeremy Corbyn faced accusations of being the latest in a long and illustrious line of apologists for Russian actions. In an article for the Stop The War Coalition in March 2014 Corbyn opposed providing the Ukraine with military support following the ousting of the pro Moscow regime that had opened fire on protestors during the Maidan revolution. Coryn echoed Russian claims that far from a democratic uprising, the crisis in Ukraine was part of a sinister Nato agenda.
James Bloodworth, co-founder of Left Foot Forward argues that Corbyn is “remarkably good at proffering apologetics for dictatorship and tyranny including Russian gay-basher Vladimir Putin”
Let’s not forget that other darling of the British Left, Hugo Chavez, the late president of Venezuela, who took a country with possibly the largest oil reserves in the world and lead it to economic ruin. But that didn’t stop Corbyn from praising Chavez. Only last year Corbyn said “When we celebrate, and it is cause for celebration, the achievements of Venezuela, in jobs, in housing, in health, in education, but above all its role in the whole world as a completely different place, then we do that because we recognise what they have achieved.” Probably best not mention the collapse of the healthcare system, Chaves’s sabre rattling against impoverished Guyana over Venezuelan territorial claims, or the housing crisis,
But even ignoring the economic calamity Venezuela has become, it’s hard to turn a blind eye to the abuses that Corbyn’s champion has been accused of by Human Rights Watch, including assaults on judicial independence, assaults on press freedom, rejection of human rights scrutiny and embracing abusive governments. The same organisation has found evidence of even worse abuses under the current Cuban regime, not that you’d know any of this from Corbyn’s fawning article on his own website.
From terrorists to tyrants, seemingly the only criteria you need for Jeremy Corbyn’s friendship is a hatred of the West in general or Britain in particular.