Magazine article The Spectator

Leading Article: Corbyn's Useful Idiots

Magazine article The Spectator

Leading Article: Corbyn's Useful Idiots

Article excerpt

The news that Jeremy Corbyn met a Czechoslovakian agent three times during the 1980s, when the Cold War was still very much in progress, has come as a shock to some. But it should not come as a surprise. What we have discovered so far fits entirely with everything we know about Corbyn's character and his sympathies. He does not appear to have sold secrets, or even to be interested in anything venal. To judge by Czech sources, he was unaware that the man he was meeting was an agent attempting to recruit him. This was at a time when British diplomats were trained to work on the assumption that everyone they met from behind the Iron Curtain was a spy: Corbyn seems to have been blithely unaware of what he was walking into.

But that is the Labour leader all over. He had, and still has, a naive belief in the good of socialism that blinds him to the reality of dictatorships, and to the many millions who have been murdered in its name. Still he champions Venezuela as an example to the world -- in the face of mass hunger and a collapsed economy, he has tempered his position only to say that he believes the country made a mistake not to diversify its economy away from oil. The fact that in the 1980s what was then Czechoslovakia was a puppet regime of the Soviet Union, installed with brute force after the crushing of the Prague Spring 15 years earlier, will have been lost on Corbyn entirely.

Will this week's revelations damage him? The Conservatives would certainly love to believe so, and several of them have tried to make political capital from the affair. They are likely to be disappointed. Corbyn was thought by many to be fatally compromised by his association with Hamas and the IRA -- the latter in the wake of the Brighton bomb in 1984. Yet while there are many older voters who believe him unfit for office on the strength of these truths, none of it has rubbed off on the young.

Those who were brought up after the Good Friday Agreement simply do not see why there is such a fuss about being pictured beaming next to Gerry Adams. After all, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair did the same -- it is too much to expect the under-forties to put photographs of Gerry Adams in their correct historical context. Similarly, this week's revelations mean little to anyone who can't remember the Cold War. To them the Czech Republic is a pleasant weekend destination with cheap beer, not a former authoritarian state. Soviet communism is ancient history.

While Conservatives are fighting the battles of the past, they are losing the battle for the present. This week, the government attempted to relaunch its policy on student tuition fees. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.