I forgave my friends at first, I could understand it, here was a man that seemed at face value to represent 'old', 'pure', Labour traditions. Here was an unreconstructed socialist who was kicking it to the elites and stirring us in our seats. During my teens I looked on the Labour Party as a maligned status quo, more grey than red. The sense of disappointment at the New Labour project burned in me; why didn't they do more, why didn't they go further? I wasn't the only liberal-leftie of my generation to feel this way.
I can see how easily it was to become blinkered. So many friends had so much invested in the Jeremy Corbyn project, to begin to question his allegiances and his hypocrisy would be to unravel their whole worldview. But by continuing to support Jeremy Corbyn, the liberal-Left, the decent Left, have turned a blind eye to his squalid support of reactionary movements, and so have betrayed the values of internationalism that they claim to uphold. Truth be told, Jeremy Corbyn should have never have got close to the Labour leadership. The man should be a pariah to the British Left.
In 1941, George Orwell described a part of the Left as "sometimes squashily pacifist, sometimes violently pro-Russian, but always anti-British." I guess some ideas do die-hard. An unwieldy man, Jeremy Corbyn has rarely left his echo chamber long enough to contemplate a different viewpoint. He has over several decades, indulged himself with the most reactionary of individuals and regimes. He has done so in the attempt to perpetuate his simplistic world-view that the West is the darkest, most malevolent force in global politics.
Jeremy Corbyn was the chairman of the Stop the War Coalition up until his Labour leadership bid. I've since written at length about the squalid nature of this group. When you think they couldn't sink any lower, they do. Stop the War are a group that has apologized and praised Baathist fascism. That has blamed America for 9/11. That has repeatedly toed the line of Putin's kleptocracy, and even promoted the antisemitic blood libel that Jews murder children for blood to bake in their matzah.
In December, Jeremy Corbyn attended a Stop the War dinner at which he praised the organisation as "one of the most important democratic campaigns of modern times". Just a month earlier, Stop the War proclaimed that "Paris (in the wake of the terror attacks) reaps whirlwind of Western support for extremist violence in Middle East". He had ignored an open letter signed by 500 Labour members which urged him to reconsider attending the event:
"We believe that Stop the War Coalition stands apart from the Labour movement's values of internationalism, anti-fascism and solidarity," it read.
"We urge you to distance yourself from this organisation. We believe that Labour party unity, and electoral credibility in the face of a Conservative government that is pursuing a rightwing domestic agenda, would be advanced if you pulled out of this event."
Any democratic socialist and anti-racist worth their salt would have balked at Jeremy Corbyn's warm words about Hamas and Hezbollah. Hezbollah, that anti-Semitic goose-stepping 'Party of God' who persecute liberals and democrats in Lebanon. Hamas, the terror groups those charter states that 'Islam will obliterate Israel' and includes the Hadith: 'The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.' When Jeremy Corbyn praises Hamas and Hezbollah for their "dedication to peace and social justice", does he think of the trade-unionists they have murdered in Lebanon and Palestine?
When Jeremy Corbyn says he wants to toast a Jew-hating zealot in the Commons bar and splutters; "I look forward to giving you tea on the terrace because you deserve it!' -- the decent Left were filled with disgust.
If I was to raise these questions at my next CLP meeting most members would simply look at their feet, as if too polite to shout "Red Tory" to my face. I won't have too many allies in my local Labour Party, as those repelled by Jeremy Corbyn have already slipped out of the door. Behind the wave of thousands of new members flooding the party, a small but noteworthy minority have cut up their membership cards, appalled at the hypocrisy and moral blindness engulfing the Left.
Some liberal friends have said that my questions are founded on baseless smears. When I quoted Corbyn's words back to them, they simply shaked their heads and walked away. Some gave me Corbyn's line of defence, that his meetings with Hamas and Hezbollah were his part in the Middle East peace process. This is little more than thin spin.
Sharing a platform with those who want the violent destruction of Israel, and those who promoted terror in Northern Ireland as way of bringing about a unified Ireland, while never once sharing a public platform with Israeli Nationalists or Ulster Unionists, reveals Corbyn to be what he is... an ignorant political partisan.
I am tired of seeing footage of Jeremy Corbyn on Russian state television toeing Putin's line. Does he see that he is yet another useful idiot justifying the expansionist jaunts of a reactionary power? When he sits on Iranian state TV praises the Islamic revolution there, does he think of the gay people hung from cranes and women stoned to death by its regime? Is he a traitor to the values of internationalism and liberalism, or simply an old fool 'playing with fire without knowing fire is hot'? Personally I believe it's the latter, but that doesn't console me.
We must beware of those on the Left who are comfortable attacking the disgraceful mayoral campaign run by Zac Goldsmith, but remained silent when Ken Livingstone threw his dogwhistle to the ground and argued Hitler was simply a Zionist when he wrote Mein Kampf. We must beware those metropolitan liberals who wear their anti-racism so proudly on their sleeve, but who will dig through the gutter of conspiracy theories and historical quackery, to rationalise, apologise and justify antisemitism.
These people are pseudo-Left and they have made their choice. But now is not the time for the true liberal-left to go into hiding. We must not be afraid to stand up for our principles and challenge the conformism of the "New Politics".