The Labour leadership’s anti-semitism problem continues to get worse. Last weekend, the Mail on Sunday produced a picture of Jeremy Corbyn in Tunis laying a wreath commemorating PLO terrorists who killed Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972. In scenes of epic muppetry, a leading Corbynista, Faiza Shaheen interviewed about this on Sky News appeared to question whether the slaughter of unarmed Jewish athletes in Munich was an anti-semitic act. Somehow, Shaheen is Labour’s parliamentary candidate in Chingford and Woodford Green.
“I don’t think I was involved” in laying the wreath, said Corbyn to Sky News today, his eyes darting about while he said it, conveying every bit as much shiftiness as the fictional Nicola Murray in the Thick of It “Quiet Bat People” episode in series four. In the same episode, the hapless leader of the opposition Murray u-turns to back an unpopular government policy only to be told at the end of the speech by a journalist that while she was speaking the government just dumped its own policy.
Everyone knows that Nicola Murray knows that she is hopeless. That’s a major component in the making of the joke. Her entirely justified self-doubt – she knows that you know, her team knows, and you know that she knows that you know – is why the character works so well. “You’ll never get in,” says a passing member of the public as Murray, a leader of the opposition who can’t hack it, offers up a fixed smile and then a few seconds later curses the voter with a c-word.
Today, Corbyn has admitted that he did lay the wreath. He was involved.
Jeremy Corbyn is much, much worse than Nicola Murray. He knows, or thinks he does, something much worse than his own intrinsic hopelessness. In contrast, he knows that he is wonderful and virtuous, and he fancies himself an inspirational thinker. Corbyn is none of these things, but there you go.
This weird state of affairs does produced tricky moments for Corbyn. When Saint Jeremy is caught out being less than holy, and a picture of that wreath proving he did it emerges, he simply has no available way of processing the news because it is so discombobulating and at odds with his self-image and the hero worship of his creepily devoted followers. Acknowledging error would involve Jeremy admitting that Jeremy Corbyn is not 100% wonderful. That cannot happen, because Jeremy knows that he is 100% wonderful. There are terrible t-shirts, and mugs with dim slogans on them, and tens of thousands of young, gullible Marxists in the Labour party, who say so.
This means that when he does change position he does it – with a sigh, appalled he is being doubted by mere mortals – as though the admission is in line with what he said before.
I usually savour a good party meltdown and virtual collapse once in a while. It’s part of the regenerative process in a healthy democracy. But this one – potentially the death of the Labour party as a credible mainstream force – is a spectacle I can barely watch a minute longer. The sight of the Labour party – the party of Bevin, Attlee, Callaghan, Castle, Healey, Smith and Mowlam – being co-opted and ruined by these wicked interlopers (Marxists piggybacking on Labour) and thousands of social media loons, is genuinely upsetting to watch. Even worse, if the Tories keep their own shenanigans up then this far left Corbynite shower may by accident and thanks to public boredom become the next government.
One aspect of the anti-semitism row is surprising, however. I am surprised that anyone could be remotely surprised by the news that Jeremy Corbyn hangs out with anti-semites and exists in a milieu in which anti-semitic views are pretty much standard. Assorted centre-left media figures and luminaries declared that all this anti-semitic stuff of the last few weeks is just too much and they must leave Labour, or they must think sad thoughts about how Jeremy used to offer hope but now he doesn’t because, well, look at the wreath business.
The wreath or what is symbolised was always the real Corbyn; that is the deal. This – the putting down wreaths for terrorists, the inviting other terrorist leaders to parliament after organisations they are deeply involved with have tried to kill Britain’s Prime Minister of the day – is not a spin-off project, or a hobby. When it came to Ireland, those types backed the IRA against Britain. In the Cold War they backed East Germany against West Germany. In the Cold War, the Soviet Union against America, Britain and France. They hate the West and they hate the West’s friends. That means they especially hate Israel and they like and hang out with people who hate Israel.
In terms of the Middle East, they have never made any secret of this or hid their class-based analysis and clear, nasty worldview, in which Israel is the geopolitical manifestation of what they see as a desire by a strong group – the Jews in this case – to oppress the weak. The far left (with very few exceptions) hates Israel, sides with violent extremists among the Palestinians, and blurs endlessly Israel and Jewishness.
That is the essence of the ideology that spawned Corbyn. It would be more newsworthy and surprising – given his associations and actions for forty years – if somehow he wasn’t anti-semitic.