Saturday 24 March 2018

Television: Corbyn fails that Sinn Fein test

* Newsnight (BBC2)
* David Dunn (Sky Sports News)

Illustration: Jim Cogan
Illustration: Jim Cogan
Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

Life can be complicated. You've got arguments for and against everything, you may even agree to some extent with both sides.

But politics can be a bit less complicated.

Indeed as we watch the story of the leadership of the British Labour Party developing on Newsnight, we feel that we Irish could offer them a special insight. We could tell them straight away whether a win for Jeremy Corbyn would be a good result all round, or a bad result. We could save them a lot of energy, a lot of hostility on the TV every night.

Because we have developed, over time, a simple test. A test as simple as anything you would encounter in a routine examination by your GP, with equally reliable results. All it involves is one question which goes like this: what do you think of Sinn Fein?

You don't even need to get into the more advanced areas, the Sinn Fein/IRA or the IRA/Sinn Fein constructions, because the answer to the main question should cover any variations on the theme.

So we have done the test on Corbyn. And we can tell all those unhappy people on Newsnight, right now, that they can stop annoying themselves because the results are in, and the candidate Corbyn has failed. That would be a Fail.

And he has not just failed by a small margin, he has failed utterly. We are not just talking about that relatively recent picture of him with leading Sinn Fein personalities, we are talking about a lifetime of dedication to the struggle.

To call him a useful idiot in this regard would be unfair to all the other useful idiots, given that the classic definition may imply a certain lack of awareness on the part of the idiot of the true nature of those to whom he is being useful.

After several decades of obedient service, Corbyn can't even claim that. He just loves Sinn Fein. Indeed, so besotted is he with them, he doesn't even seem to know that as a man of the Left, he should actually be against this crowd, since they are, above all else, a Nationalist party which has proved itself to be far more extreme in the furtherance of its aims than like-minded outfits such as UKIP.

So here again we see how vital the test can be in the diagnosis and the treatment of bullshit.

If I didn't know Corbyn's form in this area, I might be finding much of what he is saying quite sensible. I would be all for nationalising the railways and for a vision of the economy which is not entirely directed towards the daily obsession with finding new ways of comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted.

Given the terrible uselessness of his rival candidates, if I didn't know any better, I might even be paying my three quid and voting for Corbyn, for these reasons, and also for a laugh.

Ah, but I do know better. I know that even if I agreed with every other thing that Corbyn was saying, even if his manifesto consisted entirely of plans to give all the money in the United Kingdom to me, personally, the Sinn Fein thing is bigger than any of that. It is, indeed, the test.

So I can tell our friends on Newsnight that the verdict is clear - Corbyn is not the best of a bad bunch. He is, in fact, the worst of a bad bunch.


It is particularly regrettable, because there is such an opening there, for an actual human being to get involved in the great issues. So stifling is the corporate culture, so fearful are they of deviation, on Sky Sports News recently they apologised when the footballer David Dunn used the words "pain in the arse".

In fact, they apologised three times, leading the commentator Danny Kelly to tweet: "Have I time-travelled back to a Victorian vicarage?"

Since most of the viewers would be male football fans, such breast-beating would seem pointless, but perhaps it is that very pointlessness which appeals to the corporate mind - like, imagine how mad they'd get over something that mattered to them?

It'd be good to hear that whole dominant culture being challenged by a different kind of voice, by someone like Jeremy Corbyn - though of course, not by Jeremy Corbyn himself.

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