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Looking askance: A former colleague of Jeremy Corbyn, who split from Labour when the Blairists took over, has written a smear piece for the Torygraph that does Corbyn far more benefit than harm.

Looking askance: A former colleague of Jeremy Corbyn, who split from Labour when the Blairists took over, has written a smear piece for the Torygraph that does Corbyn far more benefit than harm.

You can always tell when Tories are afraid of someone – they produce newspaper articles saying that he’s rubbish.

Today (Tuesday, June 16), the Torygraph has published a character assassination of Jeremy Corbyn by former Labour supporter Leo McKinstry, who now writes for the Daily Mail and the Daily Express, alongside the paper in which this piece appears. It seems clear from his CV that he turned Right after leaving Labour.

Mr McKinstry would have us believe that Corbyn is “not a serious politician” but a “permanent rebellious adolescent”. Can he substantiate this abuse?

No. In fact, if the piece is intended to put people off Corbyn, then it backfires badly.

McKinstry writes: “He was certainly a hard-working, energetic MP, as well as a powerful, if sometimes histrionic, speaker – like his hero Tony Benn.”

Corbyn’s hero is Tony Benn? Terrific! Tony Benn was one of the greatest Labour politicians of the modern age and anyone following in his footsteps is to be applauded and supported.

“A Blairite member of the last Labour Government once told me that she trusted Corbyn more than the moderate Chris Smith, Islington South’s long serving MP, because the former was less slippery and opportunistic.” Again – terrific! McKinstry is saying that Blairites like Liz Kendall, Yvette Cooper and even Andy Burnham are “slippery and opportunistic”, making Corbyn clearly a much better choice.

“Yet in part, Corbyn’s supposed decency comprised unthinking subservience to a bewildering array of causes, such as the internal Labour factions like Socialist Organiser or foreign movements like Palestine Solidarity.” Socialist Organiser was a Leftie newspaper that closed down in 1995 – 20 years ago. McKinstry split from Labour in the same year. McKinstry changed his mind. Whatever he thought of Socialist Organiser, who is he to say Corbyn can’t have also modified his views in the two decades since that paper folded? From his point of view, he might as well criticise Twenty-something journalists (who enjoyed such reading matter) for the comics they read in the 1990s.

It is interesting that he marks Palestine Solidarity as a socialist organisation, and we can read between the lines to work out what he thinks the right-wing view must be. Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s website clarifies that it is “an independent, non-governmental and non-party political organisation” that “campaigns for peace & justice for Palestinians, in support of international law and human rights & against all racism”. That seems a worthy cause to support – especially when one considers the brutal attack on Palestinians by Israel around one year ago.

“Nor was he always the epitome of chivalric tolerance that his supporters now proclaim. In 1981, for instance, he demanded a purge of soft-left MPs – such as Neil Kinnock – who had failed to back Tony Benn for the Deputy Leadership.” Soft-left? Some would call them right-wingers who paved the way for Tony Blair and the neoliberalism that is causing Labour such pain today. Some would say Corbyn was right to call for such a purge. Some of us would like to see such a purge today.

McKinstry’s claim that Corbyn supported the IRA is another matter: “This is the man who sympathised with violent Irish Republicanism in the 1980s, invited IRA representatives to the Commons a fortnight after the Brighton bombing in 1984 and, at a Troops Out meeting in 1987, stood for a minute’s silence to “honour” eight IRA terrorists killed in an SAS ambush.”

“Sympathised with violent Irish Republicanism in the 1980s”? How do we reconcile that with the fact that Jeremy Corbyn won the Gandhi International Peace Award in 2013 for his “consistent efforts over a 30 year Parliamentary career to uphold the Gandhian values of social justice and non‐violence”? We can’t.

This Writer tends to believe the Gandhi Foundation’s point of view. After all, peace in Northern Ireland was won by talking out the problems between all parties – not by meeting violence with violence. And it is a fragile peace. Why risk stirring up ill-feeling by raking over coals that have long since become cold?

In the end, all this article can bring is personal insult. McKinstry says Corbyn’s stand against a Grammar School education for his children led to the end of his marriage. As a Grammar School boy himself, perhaps he was well-positioned to understand their drawbacks, and in any case his domestic arrangements are not a subject to be discussed in his leadership campaign and it is low of McKinstry to mention them.

“From his black Leninist cap to his ever-present beard, there is something of the stage proletarian about him. His keen lack of vanity is its own kind of pretension” … in McKinstry’s opinion, which is intentionally insulting.

“The greatest irony of all is that this self-serving iconoclast…” Self-serving? Tell that to the Palestine campaigners or the Gandhi Foundation. “Who has spent his Parliament career defying authority and sneering at careerists…” Justifiably. “Is now seeking the leadership himself.” Because he believes Labour deserves better than the pale Blue “careerists” it has at the moment.

“Labour will truly be doomed if he comes close to winning.” What a load of right-wing politically-motivated tosh.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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