Judging from the social media and blog feeds over the weekend. There is a Momentum campaign in operation to try and paint attacks on Jeremy Corbyn’s unconvincing posturing as a vast media conspiracy. Even the BBC is being roped into the usual anti-Daily Mail and Murdoch rants as ‘wilfully not seeing, as the public does, the deep integrity and morality behind his position’.
The problem for this analysis, is that the public largely does see Corbyn for what it is, and they don’t much care for it. While many people have deep and sincere concerns about military ventures in far-off lands. And deep suspicions about the need for action, particularly as articulated by Government. They can also see Islamic State for what it is, and accept ‘no action’ in Syria has not been a wild success for peace and security, either here or in the region. People are dying either way, and the long and bloody Syrian civil war shows no sign of concluding soon.
They expect their wannabe Leaders to have a clear position on such things, backed up by a credible plan. Not beard-stroking incoherence, or a sense that whatever the Government does, he is against it, while having no Plan B.
Corbyn is not a liberal pacifist. Largely he’s an observer and oppositionalist on matters of state. He correctly sees the resolution of most conflicts as being based on dialogue not bombs. But incorrectly presumes that dialogue is always an option. Or an option right now. It should be self-evident but apparently isn’t to him that a death cult, with a moral vision based on bringing about a final conflict between civilisations is not a prime candidate for having a chat. If there is any prospect of that whatsoever it will require a radical change of vision, leadership and personnel in IS. This in turn will largely require beating them militarily. Some people do just want to kill you. And will if you let them.
However the even less attractive aspect of Corbyn’s statecraft is the manner he which does engage in dialogue when he can. His relationship with the IRA at the height of the Troubles was not admirable. Rather than coming across as the work of a sincere peacemaker, ahead of his time, he seemed to be wallowing in the association with those who would slaughter his political opponents at home. Feeding on grievances, not resolving them.
With Hamas, there is a line between a sincere desire to defend the rights of Palestinians – by questioning the decisions of the Israeli state. And apologism for acts of murderous aggression against Israeli citizens – by ignoring or excusing them. It is hard to see how the thinly veiled anti-Semitism of his fellow-travellers on the hard Left – or their aggressive relativism against Israel, is the former, not the latter. Hatred and wilful ignorance of one side’s concerns is a poor catalyst for facilitating peace.
And so it goes on. Corbyn’s preference is to be the man sitting on the sidelines preaching about how everyone else made mistakes, and how much better life would be if only some utopian peace plan had been allowed to succeed. That and pretending to be neutral while actually being ruthlessly partisan. That preference is not compatible with a job application to run the affairs of a member of the UN Security Council.
British Prime Ministers have to take tough decisions, often without any path being clear or right, and live with the consequences. They cannot just hope for a better conversation. The public can see that. Many Labour MPs can see that. The question is how long it will take Labour’s new intake to reach the same conclusion.