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Jeremy Corbyn accuses the press of a smear over spy claims – it’s a tactic we’ve seen from him before

The Labour leader's actions reveal a man who campaigns to be Prime Minister while apparently pledging to restrain our democratic rights.

    Jeremy Corbyn (Picture: PA)
    Jeremy Corbyn (Picture: PA)

    "Change is coming." Jeremy Corbyn’s threat to the country’s most popular newspapers on Tuesday night caused quite a stir.

    The spark for his menacing social media video was the reports, led by the Sun and followed by the Daily Mail, the Telegraph and others, about Mr Corbyn’s alleged relationship with a Czechoslovakian spy during the Cold War.

    I find it highly unlikely that the current Labour leader collaborated with Czech spooks – what useful information could he have imparted? More likely, as Mark Urban, the BBC Newsnight journalist, tweeted, Mr Corbyn was naïve in who he met in the late 1980s; just as he has been ever since.

    The leader of the opposition’s apparent desire to curb the freedom of the press, one of the fundamental rights of our democracy, comes as no surprise. It is straight out of the playbook used by his friends in Iran, Venezuela and Cuba.

    Mr Corbyn said in his video that last year’s general election had “showed the media barons are losing their influence” because of social media. In some ways he is partly right, but his next point, where he accuses the press of “resorting to lies and smears” is beyond the pale, even for a man with his levels of chutzpah.

    Cast your minds back to the sunshine days of August 2015 and a memorable JC front page.

    Under the headline “the key questions Jeremy Corbyn must answer”, this newspaper outlined some of the most overwhelming evidence of association with, and support for, Holocaust deniers, terrorists and antisemites ever levelled against a British politician.

    We asked Mr Corbyn to explain his links to Shoah denier Paul Eisen, his “friendship” with terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah, his description of blood libel cleric Raed Salah as an “honoured citizen”, and his failure to condemn antisemitic posters at the Al Quds Day rallies supported by his Stop the War Coalition.

    A week later, his office emailed a series of answers loosely connected to the questions posed. The same line appeared then as now – the allegations against him were “an attempt to smear Jeremy”.

    In the months and years since that 2015 front page, Mr Corbyn has declined, time and time again, to sit down with any Jewish media organisation and account for his actions.

     

     

    Just as he attempts to brush off this week’s spy claims by rubbishing the work of journalists as “lies and smears”, so too he believes it is unnecessary to respond to hard facts and the genuine concerns of the Jewish community about his associations with racists and extremists.

    It is hard to think of a case of a senior figure in modern-day British politics being allowed to so casually shrug off such serious points.

    Threatening to sue fellow MPs over tongue-in-cheek tweets; refusing to answer questions; posting bullying videos – these are the actions of a man who campaigns to be Prime Minister while apparently pledging to restrain our democratic rights.

    “Change is coming”? I think you will find it is already here.

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