Jeremy Corbyn has spent the past few weeks going on something of a road trip of British universities. Now sitting as an independent for Islington North, Corbyn spoke at the Oxford Union last month where he was asked if he had any regrets about his time as Labour leader to which he replied: 'Regrets? I’m really with Frank Sinatra on regrets actually – I’ve got a few but too few to mention.' Sangfroid that will be of little comfort to the 46 MPs who lost their seats 18 months ago...
Today it was Cambridge who played host to Corbyn for an hour. Joel Rosen, the president of the Cambridge Union, pressed his guest closely on the party's record on antisemitism during his four and a half years at the helm, with one line in particular catching Mr Steerpike's eye.
Rosen asked Corbyn about Labour's treatment of former MP Luciana Berger who resigned from the party in February 2019, noting how in November 2018 the Times reported that Labour had sat for six months on a physical threat against her and hadn't informed her office or the police, with six people having now been convicted of antisemitic and misogynistic abuse against Berger.
Asked by Rosen: 'What did you do specifically in this case with Luciana to prevent her from being hounded out of the Labour party?' Corbyn replied:
“Luciana was not hounded out of the party, she unfortunately decided to resign from the party. I'm not saying she's wrong because I appointed Luciana to the shadow cabinet in 2015 – can I finish? I appointed Luciana to the shadow cabinet in 2015 as our shadow member for mental health and actually we worked very well together on mental health issues, we travelled together, we campaigned together and so on.She did suffer the most appalling abuse for which we obviously gave her all the support that she needed and deserved. She then had a prosecution that she took on this, I think the police probably took the prosecution and people were prosecuted for the treatment of her and I think that the abuse that she received, the abuse that any other MP received is completely wrong.She received appalling abuse, Diane Abbott received appalling abuse, Dawn Butler received appalling abuse and many others did as well online, on social media and many people on social media hide behind non-existent names or fictitious names and continue that kind of abuse and actually it's quite hard to track them down and quite hard to find out who they are or if they're anything to do with the Labour party.
Mr Steerpike suspects Berger would feel rather differently about receiving 'all the support that she needed and deserved' from Corbyn and his office.