Corbyn cannot bring himself to condemn Venezuelan dictator

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

Prior to the general election, Labour MPs were openly insubordinate towards their leader.

The contempt that was shown to Jeremy Corbyn was not merely from his backbenchers, who overwhelmingly opposed his leadership, but also from his shadow cabinet.

More than once Mr Corbyn was humiliated by his own team, who isolated him in the House of Commons chamber.

Those Labour MPs had concluded that Mr Corbyn was leading the party to electoral ruin, and so his tenure would be short.

They got a shock on June 9, when the Labour leader took his party to within a whisker of the Conservative Party, against almost all expert opinion.

Mr Corbyn will almost certainly now be leading Labour into the next general election, and polls suggest that he could easily win that contest if it is held soon.

Now his MPs have become markedly more respectful of his authority.

For all that, however, a wing of the Labour Party is not going to go quietly.

John Spellar, who was for a while a junior minister in Northern Ireland, has strongly criticised Mr Corbyn’s refusal to condemn the leftist Venezuelan regime of Nicolas Maduro.

Even after UN allegations of human rights violations by security forces in the South American country, Mr Corbyn is refusing to condemn the government there.

He will only condemn “all sides”.

This is no surprise to anyone in Northern Ireland. When asked to condemn the IRA, the would-be prime minister has typically condemned “all violence”. He cannot bring himself to say that terrorists were worse that the state forces.

Mr Corbyn’s leadership of Labour might be secure, but he is so wedded to ideological purity that he will have less control over the shape of the party that he leads. Moderates might very well split from Labour, as they did in the 1980s.