Those of us who refuse to forget Jeremy Corbyn’s appalling support for the IRA and Middle Eastern terror groups have to concede that attacks on this subject failed to deter a significant portion of the population from voting for him.
Nevertheless, as a senior government source put it to me this week, it’s possible that if the Tory campaign didn’t focus on this (and the questions raised about his judgement, character and values) he may well have done even better in June’s election.
Small comfort for a Tory party still licking its wounds after an electoral punishment. But whereas his enthusiasm for the IRA’s agenda is a historical issue, his support for the policies of Venezuelan socialism is a glaringly contemporary issue, and ought to serve as a reminder that for Corbyn, the inconvenient realities of the Maduro regime are not enough to make an old socialist repent.
His supporters claim that people like me are simply seizing on Venezuela’s current turmoil to make cheap political points, but we should cast aside this shoddy riposte and focus on the very real, and very alarming, implications of Corbyn’s refusal to condemn the regime outright.
Lamenting violence “on both sides” while shoehorning in praise for the regime’s success in driving up literacy rates reveals a man blinded by a dogmatic, lifelong commitment to the old left-wing mantra that the end justifies the means. Maduro, like Hugo Chavez before him, is a socialist and a revolutionary, standing up to America and the “neoliberal consensus”. For Corbyn, these qualities far outweigh any damage done in pursuit of what he recently praised as “a better way of doing things.”
The Labour leader’s support for oppressive regimes (so long as they carry the right flag) is not a silly-season side issue, it is the central issue – and a reminder of just how unfit he is for high office.
The stages of post-referendum grief
Various stages of political grief have been on display among committed Remain supporters since the referendum vote. Denial, anger, bargaining and depression have all reared their heads in one form or another. Though we await the final stage: acceptance.
The anger has been evident, as has the denial – particularly among advocates of a second vote. Bargaining is the current flavour of the month, led by those who feel the formation of a new political party constitutes the best way to unwind the verdict of the electorate in last year’s referendum.
You probably haven’t heard of James Chapman, a former aide to chancellor George Osborne (and, briefly, David Davis) but he’s spearheading calls to establish a new anti-Brexit party and appears to have devised a launch strategy that consists of interrupting his Greek holiday to pick fights on Twitter.
When challenged on his plan by various hacks and pundits he spat back, “I can own you with my little finger” and “we’re going to grind you into the dust”. Perhaps having soaked up too much ouzo, he told another political journalist “your career so far is a desperate embarrassment”.
Speaking of careers, it’s worth noting that since leaving government Chapman has joined the ranks of Bell Pottinger – the lobbying firm in disgrace over recent actions in South Africa and whose clients include Turkey – a country that could surely benefit from Chapman’s enthusiasm for multiparty democracy.
The Tories add economics to their agenda
There are many criticisms one can make of the Tory election campaign, and I’ve raked over plenty in recent months. One of the most obvious was a total abdication of the economic arguments and a failure to hammer home the implications of Labour’s planned spending spree.
“Not any more” – says one No. 10 source, who tells me to expect a renewed focus on the economic debate. Better late than never. If the Tories are to regain ground, they need to start by drawing the link between Labour’s polices and economic pain.
The Twitter account reliving the financial crisis
“The fund have made 8000% betting against flaky lending policies in the US housing market...” so read a Tweet that caught my attention earlier this week. Luckily, it soon became apparent that rather than reporting on a new subprime crisis, the @TBFTLive account is in fact reliving the start of the credit crunch in a series of real-time tweets. It’s a fascinating account of events that upended markets 10 years ago, the consequences of which still haunt us all today.