The myth of Saint Corbyn

Hamas’ pogrom on 7 October should have shattered his phoney moral authority for good.

Tom Slater

Tom Slater

Topics Politics UK

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The Corbynistas might just be the most pathetic political tendency ever. The news that former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will be standing in the UK General Election as an independent in Islington North, after being blocked from standing as a Labour candidate, has been followed by slew of soft-ball interviews and gooey-eyed commentary from the constellation of tweeters and YouTubers for whom backing Corbyn’s leadership remains a formative experience. The simplest mind and most boring orator the Labour left has yet produced. Labour’s worst electoral defeat since 1935. The mass defection of working-class voters to the Tory Party. A Labour Party so woke, shrill and bourgeois it made an old Etonian look relatable. For the members of Corbyn’s cult of no personality, for these upper-middle-class warriors, this all amounted to a high water mark for socialism, apparently. That this duffer ever came to lead the British left speaks to the low horizons – and low expectations – of a once venerable movement.

Corbyn is still hailed by admirers as a noble failure – or at least as a man with his heart in the right place. You see this in all the reports from his north London patch, a constituency he has represented for 41 years. Corbyn ‘has always stood firm for what he’s believed in’, one voter told the Observer. The reporter also, somewhat surreally, bumped into Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie, who spoke for many Corbynistas when he said Jez was a great bloke ‘who wants the best for everybody’. Even those sticking with Labour seem conflicted. The narrative is this: Corbyn is a good man brought low by the factionalism of the new Labour leadership and the stubborn refusal of the nation to realise how great he was in 2019.

Well, they’re half-right, about the first bit. Keir Starmer has gone out of his way to scupper Corbyn’s candidacy in Islington North. Corbyn had the Labour whip withdrawn in 2020, after he said anti-Semitism within Labour during his leadership had been ‘dramatically overstated for political reasons’, following a damning report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Last year, Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee endorsed a motion, laid by Starmer, blocking Corbyn from standing. The ban blindsided the constituency party in Islington North, whose members were clearly inclined to re-select Corbyn. Curiously, his comments were not enough to oust him as a party member, however. He remained one right up until Friday, when his announcement that he would be standing against the Labour candidate led to an automatic expulsion. While Starmer campaigned for the Labour leadership as a more buttoned-up, professional version of Corbyn, telling credulous leftists he’d preserve his predecessor’s legacy, he has since made anti-Corbynism a key component of his otherwise wispy political identity.

But the grubbiness of how Corbyn has been dealt with doesn’t vindicate the narrative about him on the left – the idea he is a noble radical and anti-racist, undone by a political smear job. This is a myth that should have died on 7 October last year. Hamas’ pogrom in Israel, and the outpouring of Jew hatred on our own streets since, really should have shredded Corbyn’s moral authority in the eyes of all right-thinking people, given his long and ignoble history with the group. Indeed, it’s striking that he lost the whip for saying anti-Semitism in Labour was exaggerated, but faced no sanction when, in 2009, he referred to Hamas – the Islamist terror group who murdered and raped their way through kibbutzim and a music festival last year – as his ‘friends’. Hamas was not quiet about its barbaric intentions even back then. Its founding charter commits it to the destruction of Israel and quotes Islamic texts fantasising about the murder of Jews. Nevertheless, at that infamous event 15 years ago, Corbyn hailed Hamas as ‘an organisation that is dedicated towards the good of the Palestinian people and bringing about long-term peace and social justice and political justice in the whole region’.

‘Useful idiot’ doesn’t begin to cover it. When it comes to cosying up to Hamas and other Islamist Jew haters, Corbyn’s a repeat offender. In 2011, he railed against the Home Office’s efforts to expel Raed Salah, a Hamas fundraiser who was convicted in Israel for repeating the blood libel, from the UK. Despite Salah’s unsavoury views being well-documented, Corbyn called him an ‘honoured citizen’ and invited him to have tea with him on the House of Commons terrace. In 2012, Corbyn attended a conference in Qatar. Among the speakers was Husam Badran, who orchestrated Hamas suicide bombings that claimed the lives of more than 100 people. Corbyn called the conference ‘fascinating and electrifying’. In 2014, Corbyn was pictured apparently taking part in a wreath-laying ceremony by the grave of one of the founders of the Black September terror group, which murdered Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. I could go on.

Mention this tawdry list of rendezvous between a supposed anti-racist and Islamist racists and Corbynistas will give you the usual eye-roll. But why? All these examples and more explode Corbyn’s previous rationalisations – that in his pro-Palestine activities he was just trying to be ‘inclusive’, something he now regrets. It is particularly absurd when you contrast the Corbynistas’ constant accusations of fascism against various, recent iterations of the Conservative Party with Corbyn’s stream of warm words towards Islamofascists. In a recent article for Tribune, Corbyn accused Rishi Sunak’s government of putting Britain on a ‘slippery slope to fascism’, because the PM has passed illiberal protest laws and wants to deport illegal immigrants. Meanwhile, Corbyn has spent years hanging out with and singing the praises of violent lunatics who brook no dissent among the Palestinians of Gaza and butcher Jews every chance they get. Fascist apologist, know thyself!

We cannot see inside Corbyn’s soul. But the most sympathetic reading of the above is that he has an alarmingly high tolerance for anti-Semites – that his intense dislike of Israel has led him to turn a blind eye to the numerous Jew haters in his midst. And yet none of this registers at all with the Corbynistas, who clutch their pearls at every spicey Suella Braverman tweet but are apparently fine with get-togethers with Islamist scumbags. Imagine if Braverman had been caught praising her ‘friends’ in the BNP, or attending a Klan rally, or inviting a Nazi to tea in parliament. Unless you think murderous anti-Semitism doesn’t count if it’s waged in the name of Palestine, then you should draw no moral distinction between that and Corbyn’s antics.

Since 7 October, Corbyn has shown no real signs of contrition for his long history of palling around with the genocidal instigators of the current conflict. Last November, he refused to call Hamas a terrorist group on Piers Morgan’s talk show – after Morgan asked him 15 times. (Corbyn sheepishly conceded that Hamas is a terrorist group in an article a few days later – before condemning the response of the Israeli government as terroristic, too, natch.) In an interview with Novara Media, published on Saturday, Corbyn was good enough to say that 7 October was ‘awful’, before dubbing Israel’s response ‘beyond abominable’. His choice of words here is interesting. A formulaic Netflix series, or a suspiciously pungent petrol-station sandwich, is awful. It’s not the word I’d reach for to describe a rampage of racist murder and rape.

Jeremy Corbyn could well cause an upset in Islington North. His constituents are often quick to say he’s a good local MP, even those who don’t necessarily agree with him. But this hardly absolves him of a career of fraternising with and making excuses for Islamist terrorism – the main fascistic, anti-Semitic threat we face today. Whoever triumphs in this corner of north London, the myth of Saint Corbyn desperately needs to die.

Tom Slater is editor of spiked. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Slater_

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Politics UK


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