Corbyn’s failure of leadership

Published by The Daily Mail (15 March, 2018)

Every now and then, there are times in politics when the world explodes into confrontation and a leader is defined by their response to dramatic events.

Theresa May yesterday gave a forthright response to an act of foreign aggression on British soil when she confirmed the suspicion Russia was responsible for this heinous crime.

This was a moment for statesmanship and a unified response from the Commons that would send the firmest message to Moscow. Instead Jeremy Corbyn chose to play tawdry political games that would have disgraced a third-rate student union.

The Labour leader refused to condemn Russia for the use of a military-grade nerve agent. Instead, he used this sombre occasion to complain of cuts to the Foreign Office budget. It was breathtakingly crass.

 Sounding almost like a PR man on Vladimir Putin’s payroll, he demanded to know if samples of the chemicals had been sent to the murderous liars who rule the roost in Moscow, as the Russian regime had requested. He questioned whether Russia was to blame at all.

They must have been cheering in the Kremlin.

This was a display of cheap partisan politics that should haunt Corbyn as long as he holds the Labour leadership. As Pat McFadden, one of his own MPs and a former minister, said: ‘Responding with strength and resolve when your country is under threat is an essential component of political leadership.’

A series of other Labour MPs stood up to show contempt for Corbyn by expressing solidarity with the Government over its resolve to hit back at Russia.

In short, this was the clearest indication yet that the veteran Left-winger is utterly unfit to be prime minister. The prospect of him being in charge of Britain’s security sends chills down the spine.

Forget for a moment issues such as Brexit, jobs, health and housing, important as they are. Ultimately, the test for any premier is his or her ability to defend the realm – and Corbyn just cannot be trusted to protect this country.

Yesterday’s fiasco was not even the first time this week Corbyn tried to score cheap political points at a time of national crisis. On Monday, when Mrs May sought unity and resolve on both sides of the House, he chose to criticise donations made by Russians to the Tory party. There may be a time and place to ask such questions, but it is not when Britain is reeling from an outrageous attack on its own soil.

The truth, of course, is that too often Jeremy Corbyn finds sympathy with Britain’s enemies, especially in the case of Russia, a struggling country seemingly admired by his chief spin doctor (and Marxist sympathiser) Seumas Milne, who shared a platform with Putin just four years ago.

How hollow Corbyn’s rhetoric about human rights sounds as he refuses to condemn Putin, an ultra-nationalist crook who aids billionaire gangsters, crushes minorities and inflames conflicts that wreck millions of lives in places such as Syria.

I was in Kiev, in the Ukraine, when protesters seeking democracy were slaughtered by Kremlin stooges in 2014, then in Crimea for a month when Putin lied about his invasion and carried out the first annexation on European soil since the Second World War. I stood in a field and saw bodies of men, women and children scattered among wild flowers after his goons shot down a civilian airliner. Then I saw the first of their tanks roll into a city in Eastern Ukraine, ripping apart a nation seeking rebirth.

Meanwhile Seumas Milne, arguably Corbyn’s closest aide, was churning out columns for the Guardian newspaper talking about fascist protesters, and holding ‘Western expansionism’ responsible for these devastating acts of aggression.

Milne’s words echoed the nonsense spewing from Moscow. He even called the theft of Crimea ‘clearly defensive’. Those risible newspaper columns offer a chilling insight into the mentality of his boss, the Labour leader who could, if the divided Tories suffer defeat in the event of a snap election, so easily be occupying Number 10.

To these people, the Nato alliance is not a protective shield for democratic nations in Europe, but a body that inflames tensions. Milne argued it ‘relentlessly expanded’ after what he termed the ‘disastrous Versailles-style break-up of the Soviet Union’.

Yes, you read that right. He saw the collapse and break-up of the Communist bloc as a disaster, despite the gulags, the queues, the poverty, the hunger, the repression and the denial of basic freedoms.

The cornerstone of Nato is the concept that all signatories support a nation under attack. Yet when Corbyn was asked if he would aid a Nato ally in such events, he replied evasively that he sought to avoid becoming embroiled in foreign conflicts.

Then there is his slippery deputy John McDonnell, who suddenly decided this week that the RT – formerly Russia Today – television network was beyond the pale.

This shock realisation led him to urge Labour colleagues to stop appearing on the Kremlin-funded channel. It had, he said, ‘gone beyond the line’ in its coverage of the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, with suggestions they might have overdosed on recreational drugs.

Yet only a fool could have failed to realise RT has always been part of Putin’s propaganda drive, a key asset in his information warfare onslaught on the West designed to widen divisions, spread fake news and promote Moscow’s miserable agenda.

Needless to say, both Corbyn and McDonnell, among others in their circle, have appeared on the channel.

Corbyn makes much of being correct on one big call: opposing the devastating 2003 invasion of Iraq. Fair enough. Over such a long political career, the odds were good that one of his many rebellions would look right in retrospect.

We should not be surprised that after yesterday’s shocking display by Jeremy Corbyn, Mr Milne desperately tried to spin their way out of trouble by scorning our intelligence services and their ‘problematic’ history, such as with weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. In other words, they are not to be trusted when they tell us Russia was behind this attack.

Of course while Mr Corbyn is so reluctant to condemn Russia, he has always found time to lavish praise on ruthlessly repressive regimes elsewhere.

He hailed Fidel Castro’s ‘heroism’ in Cuba. And he praised Venezuela for ‘conquering poverty’ with ‘21st-century Socialism’, although it is now a dictatorship whose people are starving, fleeing, hungry, and dying for lack of health care amid appalling hyper-inflation.

He has even hired an appalling former communist called Andrew Murray as an aide, who once expressed solidarity with North Korea – a nation that operates death camps, routinely carries out atrocities and is the world’s most abhorrent regime.

Now, these people believe they can storm Downing Street and imprint their twisted view of the world on Britain. Even voters agitated by austerity, frustrated over Brexit and despairing over constant Tory infighting should examine Corbyn’s performance in parliament yesterday. For it exposed a man who simply is not fit to control the destiny of our nation.

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