I have voted Labour all my life. I’ve always felt an affinity for a Party that seemingly stood up for those in society who are disadvantaged, not wealthy, believes in social justice, and having rights matched by responsibilities. Like many I am a centrist and do not like extremes.
Over the last 18 months I have had to seriously contemplate my allegiance. Recently I terminated my membership of the Labour Party.
Admittedly I had not been a member for long, having joined to try and influence what I saw as the lurch to the far left. The last straw for me was the refusal of Labour to expel Ken Livingstone after he repeatedly said Hitler supported Zionism.
However, appalled I feel about Mr Livingstone, and the inability of the Labour hierarchy to clearly confront anti-Semitism within the Party, there are many other reasons why I am frightened of Jeremy Corbyn ever getting the keys to No 10.
Firstly, his judgement regarding extremist organizations is deeply worrying. During the 1980s and 90s he openly supported the IRA and opposed the Northern Ireland peace process. Corbyn spoke at annual commemorations for terrorists from 1986 to 1992 which were held in London to honour dead IRA terrorists and support imprisoned IRA “prisoners of war”. He was General Secretary of the hard-left journal “Labour Briefing” which supported the Brighton hotel bombing by the IRA which murdered 5 people and injured 31 others. Some have argued that his position helped prolong the conflict.
Corbyn has appointed John McDonnell as his Shadow Chancellor, a man who opposed the Northern Ireland peace process up until 1998 as it meant compromising. He opposed the peace process negotiations in what became known as the Good Friday Agreement. He told the IRA’s newspaper “An assembly is not what people have laid down their lives for over thirty years… the settlement must be for a United Ireland”.
McDonnell said at the time that the peace process was the result of the actions of the IRA and that because of the bravery of the IRA we now have a peace process. McDonnell apologised on BBC Question Time in 2015 saying “If I gave offence and I clearly have from the bottom of my heart I apologise. I apologise” We should remember the IRA murdered over 1600 men, women and children and ask why he and Corbyn were so supportive of a terrorist movement.
Links to extremists
Jeremy Corbyn praised and supported Sheikh Raed Salah a well-known Islamist who the British courts confirmed used the Blood Libel – an old anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Jews use the blood of gentile children to make their own bread.
Corbyn has invited Hamas and Hezbollah to parliament and called them his “friends”. The Hamas Charter, only recently under review, has been very clear that it seeks not only the destruction of Israel through violent means but also the elimination of all Jews worldwide. Hezbollah are a proscribed terrorist organization in the UK and USA. Like Hamas, it is openly committed to Israel’s destruction.
To add to this Corbyn has also been a long-time backer of an anti-Israel group Deir Yassin Remembered (DYR) led by Paul Eisen. Corbyn attended an event in 2013 even though Eisen had come out as a Holocaust denier years earlier. He once shared a platform with the Black September hijacker, Leila Khaled.
Corbyn was a signatory in 2015 of a letter defending the activities of Cage, an extremist charity that supported Jihadi John and has backed others such as radical preacher Abu Hamza. Cage gained infamy for calling the ISIS murderer Mohammed Emwazi aka Jihadi John a “beautiful young man”. One Labour MP said at the time “I don’t think it would be appropriate for an MP, let alone the leader of the Labour Party, to be involved with this organisation. I think Jeremy Corbyn needs to think more carefully about the kind of people and organisations to which he gives his support”.
Links to “Stop the War”
Corbyn is a past Chair of the “Stop the War” Coalition, a Socialist Worker’s Party front that allied itself with Saddam Hussein, promotes Assad apologists, defended Putin over Ukraine, blamed the Charlie Hebdo attacks on France, opposed action to save the Yazidis surrounded by ISIS. Corbyn attends and participates in their rallies.
Corbyn had been feeble during the EU Referendum Campaign and failed to make a strong argument why Britain should remain in the Union. Those opposed to a hard Brexit cannot rely on him to fight their cause. His views on immigration and the economy seem confused and unclear. There are big problems that need addressing, such as the NHS, social care and zero hours contracts, but Labour under Corbyn does not provide that.
There is also a disconnect between the Labour Party membership and hierarchy, and the parliamentary Labour Party and large swathes of the electorate. Quite staggering The British Communist Party, for the first time since its formation in 1920, are not fielding their own candidates and giving their support to Jeremy Corbyn saying he can help them achieve their “revolutionary aims”.
I remember Michael Foot and the 1983 Manifesto – dubbed “The longest suicide note in History”. Militants had hijacked the Party and Labour succumbed to a crushing defeat. Thirty-four years later Labour seems even more in peril. Our democracy needs a viable opposition party to hold any government to account. The tragedy of Labour under Corbyn is that the 2017 election will not provide me and many others with an alternative.