A sleepless night last night, agitated – no, more than that, infuriated – by the plotting against Jeremy Corbyn. I have to admit, embarrassedly, that I’m a full-blown ‘Corbynista’, desperate for him to win the next general election, in order to lead us back to the moderate social democracy of my younger days. Yes, I could wish he had more ‘charisma’, to boost his chances among those who are foolishly impressed by such things; but to set against that I’m hoping that his obvious honesty, probity, politeness, decency, humanity, humility, having been right about almost everything in the past, and of course his present-day policies, might compensate and push him forward, as they did with his equally uncharismatic predecessor in 1945. In recent months ‘charisma’ has given us Brexit (Boris) and Trump. Best, I think, to put it back in its box.
The Tories and their cheerleaders in the Press are clearly nervous that JC’s qualities will break through, which is what lies behind their savage and unprincipled monstering of him over the last couple of years. It used to be about the way he dressed; then about his supposed lack of respect (illustrated with photoshopped pictures) on patriotic occasions; then about his relations with Irish and other nationalists; then about his ambivalent stand on Brexit – which I’m unhappy about too, but we’ll see how it goes; and most recently based on his supposed sympathy with the ‘Black September’ terrorists who carried out the monstrous attack on Israeli athletes at the 1982 Olympics, by laying a wreath on their graves in Tunisia. Except that they aren’t buried in Tunisia, but in Libya; and Corbyn’s wreath – in the course of a peace mission – was for the forty innocent Palestinian victims of an Israeli air strike there in 1985. No matter; the Daily Mail refused to change its tune (never mind the accuracy, feel the smear); and a few days ago Benjamin Netanyahu piled in with this: ‘The laying of a wreath by Jeremy Corbyn on the graves of the terrorist who perpetrated the Munich massacre and his comparison of Israel to the Nazis deserves unequivocal condemnation from everyone’- which must count as a foreign intervention in British politics as serious as Russia’s supposed intervention in the USA’s. (The charge against him of comparing the Israelis to the Nazis, incidentally, is also false.) All this arises from Corbyn’s support for the cause of Palestinian nationhood – alongside that of Israel – which of course is why apologists for the present Israeli government want rid of him. The right-wing British press are only taking up any weapon they find to hand. (It only seems yesterday that they were the anti-semites.)
The slanders are grotesque, and easily disproved. The trouble is that mud sticks, as you can see on scores of websites, especially Israeli ones, and as the Tories and the ‘Israel Lobby’ are undoubtedly aware. What should Corbyn do? I’m not happy with his offering ‘apologies’, which in themselves might be taken to imply that the charges against him have some basis in fact. I’m hoping that the falseness of the right-wing propaganda may soon become so obvious that it turns into the story itself, which could only benefit Labour.
But in any case it’s clear that, come the next election, Labour will have a fight on its hands. More ‘revelations’ will appear, probably so shortly before the election as to leave no time for them to be discredited in the same way as the ‘wreath’ one. The Tories have done this before. Look at the ‘Zinoviev letter’ affair: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zinoviev_letter. They could do it again. They are amoral – and possibly desperate – enough.