Watching the right-wing and nationalist press in the UK gnashing its teeth at the thoughts of left-wing MP, Jeremy Corbyn, becoming the next leader of the British Labour Party is laughable. It almost certainly won’t happen. Labour in Britain, like its counterpart in Ireland, is devoted to holding the political centre-ground with a strong strain of socio-economic conservatism inherited from the Blair years. The party is far more likely to elect a Blairite clone (of which there seems to be plenty), reflecting a greater reliance on chauvinistic English votes to sustain its electoral fortunes now that left-leaning Scotland is lost to the SNP.
Among the more amusing obsessions of the London metropolitans has been Corbyn’s historic record of attempting détente between Irish and British belligerents to the conflict in the north-east of Ireland. When the Labour representative for Islington North was reaching out to Sinn Féin in the hopes of initiating a peace process the news media believe he should have been amongst those leading the charge against the “terrorists”. A charge of course which ended up joining that of the infamous Light Brigade in its complete and abject failure. From the Daily Telegraph summation of Jeremy Corbyn’s career:
“From the mid-Eighties, a decade before the IRA ceasefire, he worked hard to build links between Labour and the Provos, regularly hosting senior figures from their political wing in Parliament, calling for British withdrawal from Northern Ireland and paying tribute to deceased terrorists.
His defenders call him ahead of his time; his opponents say that, by giving the IRA hope that the armed struggle was working, he and others on the Left actually prolonged the conflict.”
One might have imagined that the UK government, through various Irish, British and international intermediaries, engaging in negotiations with the (Provisional) Irish Republican Army behind closed doors throughout the 1980s and early 90’s might have done more to convince the (P)IRA that the armed struggle was working than any number of meetings with opposition backbench MPs. Since it was manifestly doing so. As I have written before on ASF, the Irish have come to terms with the meaning and effect of the Belfast Agreement of 1998, and the manner in which the Long War all but ended. The hubristic British on the other hand are still in denial.
Pride comes before a fall, an’ all that.