What follows is an appeal to Jeremy Corbyn supporters to think again. It's from Chris, a Labour party member, who does not want to give his full name for fear of abuse. He has compiled a vast, but by no means exhaustive list of the moral and political failings of the Labour leader. He told me:
“I've noticed that a few of my very clever, thoughtful, moderately left-wing friends were pro-Corbyn, which amazed me. What I discovered was that they knew almost no facts about him or his fellow travellers. I then noticed that any given critical article about Corbyn only listed one or two facts about him. Normal, good people, who aren't political anoraks like me, don't have time to read hundreds of articles on politics - they read a few articles and base the rest of their opinions on gut feeling and general trend of the headlines/social media. I decided to collate in one place the most striking, verifiable facts about Corbyn and the movement he represents.
They are well worth reading.
I write this as a passionate leftist and liberal. Below is a list of facts about Jeremy Corbyn which have not previously been collated in one place. The reader can make up their own mind, based on these facts. This list has been broken up into three sections: 'Ethics', 'Leadership & Electability', and 'Social Media & Activists'.
Part One: Ethics
1. Against peace in Ireland
During the 1980s and 1990s, Jeremy Corbyn supported the IRA and opposed the Northern Ireland peace process:
- By voting against the peace process and the Anglo-Irish Agreement in Parliament, as he believed republican nationalists shouldn't have to compromise (the evidence is here and here).
- By attending and speaking at annual pro-IRA commemorations for terrorists between 1986 and 1992. The programme for one such event reads: 'In this, the conclusive phase in the war to rid Ireland of the scourge of British imperialism…force of arms is the only method capable of bringing this about'.
- By aligning with terrorists. Corbyn was general secretary of the editorial board of the hard-left journal Labour Briefing which supported IRA violence and explicitly backed the Brighton Hotel Bombing, which killed 5 people and maimed 31 others. In its December 1984 leader, the editorial board 'disassociated itself' from an article criticising the Brighton bombing, saying the criticism was a 'serious political misjudgement'. The board said it 'reaffirmed its support for, and solidarity with, the Irish republican movement', and added that 'the British only sit up and take notice when they are bombed into it'. Alongside its editorial, the board reprinted a speech by Gerry Adams describing the bombing as a 'blow for democracy'. The same edition carried a reader’s letter praising the 'audacity' of the IRA attack and stating: 'What do you call four dead Tories? A start.' They had previously printed the following:
“We refuse to parrot the ritual condemnation of 'violence' because we insist on placing responsibility where it lies…. Let our Iron Lady know this: those who live by the sword shall die by it. If she wants violence, then violence she will certainly get.
If Corbyn wanted to support a unified Ireland through peaceful means he could have supported the SDLP (Northern Ireland's Social Democratic and Labour Party), which wanted to unify Ireland through a democratic process. Instead, Corbyn attended 'Troops Out' rallies where the SDLP were denounced as sell-outs. In 2015, on BBC Radio Ulster, Corbyn refused five times to specifically condemn IRA violence and terrorism. He hung up rather than answer the question. You can listen here.
Corbyn also appointed as his Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who opposed the peace process as late as 1998 as it meant compromise. McDonnell also said (before, admittedly, later apologising):
“It’s about time we started honouring those people involved in the armed struggle. It was the bombs and bullets and sacrifice made by the likes of Bobby Sands that brought Britain to the negotiating table. The peace we have now is due to the action of the IRA. Because of the bravery of the IRA and people like Bobby Sands we now have a peace process.
It is worth remembering that the IRA bombed, shot, or beat to death 1,696 men, women and children, and of course did not achieve a united Ireland.
2. For the Iranian religious right
Jeremy Corbyn has been paid £20,000 to appear five times on the totalitarian Iranian regime's propaganda channel, which was banned in the UK for its role in filming the tortured forced-confession of Iranian liberal journalist Maziar Bahari. By hosting interviews, Corbyn gives the propaganda the 'credibility' of a Western politician. It's fascinating to hear Iranian democracy campaigner Maziar Bahari's own thoughts on Corbyn, who he describes as 'a useful idiot', and goes on to say:
“People who present programmes for Press TV and get paid for it should be really ashamed of themselves — especially if they call themselves liberals and people who are interested in human rights.
The Iranian regime executes gay people, democracy activists, Kurds, and orders the rape of female prisoners. But Corbyn is happy to take their money and aid their propaganda campaign. Watch the end of this clip as Jeremy hosts a caller who describes the BBC as having hosted 'Zionist liars'.
3. For anti-Semites
- Jeremy Corbyn has praised and supported Raed Salah, an Islamist who has been accused of spreading the Blood Libel (an old antisemitic conspiracy that Jews use the blood of gentile children to make their bread). Salah has also been charged with inciting racial hatred and violence, and has claimed the Jews were behind 9/11. Corbyn has said: ‘Salah is a very honoured citizen’, 'Salah’s is a voice that must be heard’, 'Salah is far from a dangerous man’, and ‘I look forward to giving you tea on the terrace because you deserve it!’.
- Corbyn wrote in defence of a vicar who suggested that 9/11 was an inside job by the Jews.
- Corbyn invited Hamas and Hizbollah to Parliament and called them his 'friends'. Bear in mind that Hamas’s Charter is explicitly genocidal – it makes it clear its supporters want to kill Jews and repeats Nazi conspiracy theories. Their founding Charter also rules out any peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestine problem. It says:
“Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement… There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through jihad.
Corbyn doesn’t invite extremist Zionists to parliament, only extremist anti-Semites.
- Corbyn was also a long-time backer of an anti-Israel group founded by Paul Eisen, attending its 2013 event even after Eisen had outed himself as a Holocaust denier years earlier.
4. For Putin
As his right-hand man, Corbyn appointed Seumas Milne, who has argued we should focus more on the positives of Stalin's communist dictatorship. Milne was also part of the pro-Stalin and pro-Soviet fellow travellers of Fergus Nicholson's wing of the British Communist Party (he was not an official member), and worked at the pro-Soviet paper Straight Left. Milne has also blamed Russia's recent invasion of the Ukraine on the West, and has hosted a propaganda media conference for Vladimir Putin.
5. Against self-determination
Part Two: Electability and Leadership
Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly demonstrated he isn't a viable leader. Here's how:
- Corbyn has shown he has little idea about how to handle the media. Even left-wing newspapers such as The Guardian and The Independent have complained that the Corbyn team, through incompetency, release their press statements too late to give them full coverage the next day. One example was the announcement of an internal inquiry into anti-Semitism in the Labour party, wider coverage of which would have taken pressure off Corbyn and the Labour party. Instead, the announcement was made late on a Friday night – meaning the saga dragged on.
- On national television, Jeremy Corbyn refused to back a shoot-to-kill policy if a Paris-style machine gun attack happened in London. He then changed his mind and backtracked a day later.
- Corbyn's botched attempt at a publicity stunt on a 'ram-packed' train was questioned by Virgin who released CCTV images showing the Labour leader appearing to walk past empty seats before he had filmed a video showing him sitting on the floor of a train carriage. Another image released by Virgin also showed Corbyn having later found a seat.
- The following advisors and colleagues have resigned under Corbyn or disowned him in the last ten months, citing incompetence and his unelectability:
- Neale Coleman, the former aide to Ken Livingstone, resigned following the unexpected announcement of policies he had not be consulted on.
- Richard Murphy, the left wing tax specialist who was initially supportive of Corbyn, and whose policies the Labour leader took up, has now disowned him due to his failure to create a detailed plan. He said he had lost faith in Corbyn's vision.
- David Blanchflower resigned, citing his lack of ability and electability. And Simon Wren-Lewis criticised the Labour leadership for not campaigning 'more strongly' in the EU referendum.
- World famous left-wing economist Thomas Picketty has also resigned as Corbyn's economic advisor, criticising his 'weak' EU campaign.
- The Labour MP Thangam Debonaire disowned Corbyn after saying the Labour leader hired and fired her while she was receiving cancer treatment - all without a single word. Her full, shocking account can be read here.
- The Labour MP Lilian Greenwood, who never publicly criticised Corbyn, and who voted with him on Syria, resigned as the Shadow Transport shadow, claiming Corbyn has repeatedly undermined her. Oh, and there's also....
- The 172 Labour MPs, whose views range from centrist to centre-left to fully left-wing, who voted that they had no confidence in Corbyn's leadership.
But these aren't the only indications Corbyn isn't up to the job:
- Corbyn has the lowest public approval rating for an opposition leader after ten months since records began. An Ipsos Mori poll said Corbyn's rating was -41, compared to -32 for Michael Foot at the same time during his doomed leadership.
- Every large-scale study into why Labour lost the 2015 general election came to the same conclusion: Labour was not trusted on the economy. Corbyn’s response? To promise £500billion in spending but refuse to say where the money will come from.
- Jeremy Corbyn also had a disastrous referendum campaign. Having been pro-Brexit for decades - voting against Common market membership in 1975, and against the Maastricht Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty as an MP - his 'pro-Remain' campaign was, at best, half-hearted. What's more:
- Corbyn missed the first day of the Labour 'Remain' campaign so he could attend an anti-nuclear weapons rally instead.
- Leaked emails show that during the EU referendum campaign, Labour party 'Remain' campaigners came to the conclusion that the Corbyn Team were deliberately sabotaging their efforts.
- A full 45 per cent of the millions of Labour voters weren't aware that Labour was for 'Remain'.
- Corbyn's first actions after the referendum was to, unwisely, call for the immediate invoking of Article 50.
Part Three: Social Media & Activists
It cannot be emphasised enough that abusive Corbyn supporters only represent a vocal minority. However it is also clear that Labour wasn't experiencing the problems of abuse and intimidation prior to the birth of this current movement. In the process of fact checking, it became apparent that some incidents of abuse may have been exaggerated in order to criticise the pro-Corbyn movement. However, it's simply not possible to claim that the hundreds-upon-hundreds of separately documented incidents, abusive voicemails and phone calls, physical confrontations, police callouts and death threats are all exaggerations. Here are a list of just some of them:
- Over 40 female MPs have written to Jeremy Corbyn pleading with him to try to curtail the abuse they receive from his supporters. It's not clear what Jeremy Corbyn has actually done about this issue.
- Across the country, Labour constituency meetings have been temporarily suspended by the NEC because of the levels of abuse and intimidation taking place at some of these gatherings.
- Since challenging Corbyn's leadership, Labour MP Angela Eagle has been called a 'dyke' at a constituency meeting, and has been told by police that, for now, she should not hold constituency surgeries because her safety cannot be guaranteed.
- BBC journalist Laura Kuenssberg has received abuse from Corbyn supporters, including being called a 'whore' and a 'bitch'.
- At the release of the Labour anti-Semitism report, Labour MP Ruth Smeeth was abused by a Corbyn supporter. Meanwhile, Corbyn apparently watched and said nothing.
Of course, there are many other facts to bear in mind when making your choice for Labour leader. It is up to each individual to vote with their conscience, but all of us must strive to vote based on the facts.
CG (name anonymised to avoid harassment and abuse)