This article originally appeared on United Politics.
When Jeremy Corbyn first emerged from the back benches to take a crack at the Labour leadership, I confess I was partly enamoured with him. Don’t get me wrong, his political worldview is the polar opposite to mine, bearded old marxist that he is, but on the surface he was at least a man of principle.
Supporters pointed to his historical defying of the Labour whip in favour of his steadfast adherence to his political philosophy. Even his opponents such as myself were glad to see a politician advancing into the spotlight who pursued his ideology without compromising or hiding behind PR double-speak and vacuous soundbites.
Moreover, his emphasis on helping the less well off and the disenchanted gave the impression of man who genuinely cared. Socialism after all is predicated on the idea that nobody should go without. Capitalists believe the same of course, we just believe there are better routes to prosperity than centrally planned economies.
However, as the scrutiny that goes with being the leader of a major political party continues, it has been revealed that Corbyn is not the well-meaning yet misguided old codger those of us of a more classically liberal or conservative persuasion believed him to be. Rather, he is a thoroughly unpleasant individual indeed.
I have already written elsewhere about how Corbyn is in fact an archetypal politician rather than a breath of fresh air. But (contrary to popular opinion) being a politician doesn’t necessarily make you morally repugnant. No, it is Corbyn’s praise, defence of, and refusal to condemn men and regimes that any right thinking person finds abhorrent that truly sets him apart from the rest of our political class.
This was made apparent yet again this week when he was asked if he condemned Venezuelan President Maduro. A man who has presided over a complete collapse of the Venezuelan economy, hyper inflation of almost 1000%, food shortages and starvation, a dangerous scarcity of medical supplies, the violent quashing of protesters, imprisonment of his political opponents, and near total eradication of democracy in the country.
Given the litany of offences, the obvious answer to anyone with even a modicum of morality is an emphatic ‘Yes, I wholeheartedly condemn President Maduro and his authoritarian regime’. Yet Corbyn’s pathetic response was ‘what I condemn is the violence that’s been done by any side, by all sides’.
That Corbyn somehow draws an equivalency between the actions taken by the desperate people of Venezuela (though opposition leader Andres Mejia denies that violence has been perpetrated by both sides) and the brutality of Maduro’s regime, is beyond reprehensible.
Not that this is the first time Corbyn and his cabal have praised the unpraisable. He was effusive in his commendation of Fidel Castro, another man responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of his own people and the imprisonment of political opponents. Following the dictator’s death last year, Corbyn praised the man’s ‘heroism’ and marvelled at the way he had outlasted several US Presidents. A feat he achieved of course by never holding elections.
Indeed, Corbyn and his socialist bedfellows will jump at the chance to condemn UK and US foreign policy decisions, but his comrades on the left get a free pass if their atrocities are carried out in the name of the socialist agenda.
Diane Abbott is on record for suggesting Mao – responsible for the death of 60 million people – ‘did more good than harm’. Similarly John McDonnell has praised the ‘bombs and bullets’ of the IRA that he claims brought the UK to the negotiating table. Not exactly ‘condemning the violence on both sides’.
And here lies the hypocrisy and the moral degeneracy of the hard left. They champion the cause of the downtrodden and the oppressed, unless they happen to take umbrage with the imposition of a failed economic model and it’s brutal advocates. Then the pursuit of the socialist utopia justifies the oppression and the murder.
The Side of the Oppressor
There is a constructive discussion to be had between classical liberals and conservatives on the one hand, and social democrats on the other, about how wide the social safety net should be, and to what extent the government should regulate and influence the economy. But that cannot happen whilst the party of the latter is led by someone who, not only refuses to condemn tyrants without a qualifier, but has a history of actively praising their work.
Moderates on the left, and indeed hard leftists who find Corbyn’s excusing of this atrocities equally disgusting, should use this latest display of his moral deficit as the excuse to not just distance themselves from their leader, but to roundly condemn him and say ‘not in our name’. Until they do, it will be impossible to have a grown up discussion about the policies this country should implement.
Corbyn once tweeted in response to the (relatively speaking, rather minor) refusal to condemn Donald Trump’s refugee ban, ‘if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor’. Indeed Jeremy, and in the case of Maduro, that makes you an appalling excuse for a left winger, a politician, and a man.