There are three people in every conversation about Jeremy Corbyn’s grim past. I have noticed this before but renewed interest in his paid work for Iran’s Press TV confirmed it for me.
First, there’s the anti-Corbynista, who points out one outrage or another. This might be Corbyn’s ‘friends’ in Hamas and Hezbollah, his inviting a hate preacher to tea on the Commons terrace, or the time he was arrested at a ‘solidarity’ demo for the Brighton bomber. These are well-documented facts and the anti-Corbynista believes, despite melancholy experience, that reason and evidence still have some purchase in current political debate.
He is quickly disabused, again, when the Corbynista interjects. He may deny the facts (‘MSM smear!’) or claim they have been misinterpreted (the theory that Corbyn was involved in the Northern Ireland peace process, for example – a fabrication debunked by both nationalists and unionists). Whataboutery is a common tactic (pointing out his appearances on Iranian TV often brings a triumphant ‘The Tories sell weapons to Saudi Arabia!’) as is pleading the passage of time. Even where the facts are not challenged, they may be decried as part of a plot to ‘get’ Corbyn, or, creepiest of all, declared irrelevant because Corbyn is such a good, decent, caring man.