News Declan Lynch

Saturday 22 October 2016

Corbyn is target-rich and still they miss

His critics seem to have forgotten the longstanding snuggling up to his friends in the Provos, writes Declan Lynch

Published 06/12/2015 | 02:30

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaking during the debate in the House of Commons on extending the bombing campaign against Islamic State to Syria
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaking during the debate in the House of Commons on extending the bombing campaign against Islamic State to Syria

Though he has been involved in politics for decades, in a sense Jeremy Corbyn only entered public life at the age of 66.

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The life he had before that was largely a private matter between himself and various like-minded individuals in the borough of Islington.

There would have been a lot of meetings in rooms above the proverbial Dog & Duck, in which Corbyn and his colleagues would arrive at solutions to the great issues of our time, much of which was pre-ordained but required some kind of formal debate anyway, if only to pass the time.

They would have had no way of knowing if the broad majority of the British people agreed with their analysis, all they knew was that they were right. And if perchance they were wrong, as they were so massively wrong about, say, Northern Ireland, they had the consolation that hardly anyone would notice, least of all themselves.

It was an idyllic existence, really, and I must confess that if I had taken the wrong turn in life and ended up with an addiction to politics, I probably would have gone that way myself - Tuesday nights above the Dog & Duck with my comrades, knowing how right we are about everything, proposing motions and passing resolutions and asking for a show of hands, and maybe a half of pale ale in the downstairs lounge and home for Newsnight.

Result, happiness.

For Corbyn there was the ultimate bliss of being an actual MP with a safe Labour seat, which meant that he never had to get a proper job, which gave him a fully paid-up licence to be right about everything all the time, because no one was paying any attention.

He could vote against his own party on all the great issues of war and peace and everything in between and all anyone would say was: "That's Jeremy."

And then about six months ago, he finally became known to the general public, first as a joke candidate for the leadership of the Labour Party, then as a serious candidate who was still a joke. And now every day, in some grotesque way, he is reminded that he is not in the Dog & Duck any more.

He is being monstered in the most unmerciful way, not least by David Cameron in his speech to Tory MPs last week, urging them not to vote against air-strikes in Syria with Jeremy Corbyn and "a bunch of terrorist sympathisers".

By this, of course, he meant those who sympathise with the terrorists of Isil, leaving out the small detail that in fact Corbyn has been happily associating with "a bunch of terrorist sympathisers" for most of his political life, what with his long-running and apparently harmonious relationship with leading members of IRA/Sinn Fein.

They keep missing that one. It's almost as if - how can I put this?- it's almost as if the Irish dimension doesn't matter, as if they don't care about us and don't expect anyone else to care either.

And it's certainly the case that they consider Corbyn so target-rich for general abuse, that they really don't care that they're missing the legitimate target, the bullseye.

It has been an absolute disgrace, this failure to hit him with one of their famous 'surgical strikes', favouring instead the crude swinging of the slash hook.

That line of Cameron's about "terrorist sympathisers" was a particularly cynical example of the unfair and mostly untrue attacks on Corbyn, which reached their apotheosis last week with headlines which somehow suggested that the main reason Britain was bombing Syria, was Jeremy Corbyn. Though he is actually against this bombing, the story went that by allowing his own party a free vote, he was facilitating the air strikes.

It has been deeply twisted, even maniacal, this onslaught on Corbyn, and everything about him - everything, that is, except perhaps the one thing that truly exposes him as a "useful idiot" from way back, his fraternal links with IRA/Sinn Fein.

Indeed he felt fraternal enough with them to invite Gerry Adams to the House of Commons a few weeks after the Brighton bomb of 1984.

And yet incredibly, his tormenters in British politics and the media haven't really used this one against him, or extrapolated from it, preferring on the whole to attack him either for things that he didn't do at all or for things on which he is quite sound, really.

It's almost as if they know nothing about us, as if Ireland and all that unpleasantness about the North just doesn't exist for them - which raises a further question about what the hell they would know about Syria.

It would make you wonder about the case they're making for the war against Isil, when they can't even make a proper case for the war against Jeremy Corbyn.

And so in Ireland, where we know about these things, we just keep a watching brief, wondering if this involves us at all? And if so, how can we get out of it?

We know that in Paris the Taoiseach was criticising the "unrealistic" targets set by the EU for greenhouse gas emissions in the agricultural sector, partly caused by methane emanating from farmyard animals.

Which suggests that for the time being, we won't even be going to war against cattle farts.

And like Corbyn, in this, as in all things, we believe that we will be proved absolutely right.

Sunday Independent

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