Jeremy Corbyn and decency fatigue

One of the Left’s least attractive features is its boundless capacity for moral self-righteousness.

There is a near religious conviction that to be Left-wing is to be good and ethical and therefore everything a Left-winger does must be honourable.

This superstition has been one of the biggest contributors to Jeremy Corbyn’s endurance as Labour leader.

His supporters, and even those not all that keen on him, simply refuse to believe any and all charges against him, no matter the weight of evidence.

The other contributor is decency fatigue. At home and abroad, a segment of voters has tired of honesty, respect, decorum and good manners.

Vulgarity and outrageousness are somehow more entertaining and having your base instincts pandered to is more satisfying than having more prosperity, better public services and less crime.

The past week has confirmed that the Labour Party isn’t just bored of decency, it has lost all connection to it.

First, the Daily Mail revealed that Corbyn had referred to convicted Palestinian terrorists as ‘brothers’ in a 2012 appearance on Iran’s Press TV.

Next, the Labour leader was forced to apologise after it emerged he hosted an event on Holocaust Memorial Day 2010 in which Israel was compared to the Nazis.

Then we learned that he had defended a notorious anti-Zionist politician during a 2012 panel. Corbyn, who was chairing the event, angrily rebuked a heckler who objected to Baroness Jenny Tonge claiming: ‘You criticise Israel and they try to shut you up by saying you are anti-Semitic.’

Former BNP leader Nick Griffin again tweeted in defence of Corbyn, even appending the hashtag #JC4PM – Jeremy Corbyn for Prime Minister.

The same day, it emerged that David Duke, an ex-leader of the Ku Klux Klan, had celebrated Corbyn’s victory in the Labour leadership election as ‘a positive sign that understanding of the harm being done to the world by Zionism is spreading’.

Duke, the founder of the National Association for the Advancement of White People, made the comments in a 2015 interview with the conspiracy theorist James Thring, who, inevitably, once attended an event in Parliament organised by Jeremy Corbyn.

In response, Corbyn wrote a self-exculpatory article for the Guardian that went online late on Friday afternoon, just before the start of the Jewish Sabbath, meaning Jews could not respond to him for 24 hours.

A section of the piece appeared to have been copied and pasted from the last article Corbyn wrote promising to do something about anti-Semitism. The Board of Deputies of British Jews called it ‘ill-timed and ill-conceived’.

None of this has spurred Labour MPs to action. If enough of them resigned the Labour whip and formed their own grouping in Parliament, they would become the official opposition. They could marginalise Corbyn and offer an alternative to reheated Bennism and antagonism towards the Jewish community.

They might lose in the long-run but at least they would have taken a stand. These days, the only thing Labour MPs stand for is their own career prospects.

Where in all this is Scottish Labour? Richard Leonard has not distanced himself from what is going on down south. He has not committed to adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism in full.

Leonard would do well to remember that he is the leader of an autonomous party, not the branch office apprentice. If he fails to speak out on something as fundamental as racism, he deserves to be regarded as nothing more than Jeremy’s little echo in Holyrood.

It’s tempting to think of this as a Labour Party problem and leave them to it. But even if you never have and never will vote Labour, the party’s anti-Semitism should be a grave concern for all of us.

If a few dozen seats had gone the other way last year, Jeremy Corbyn would be Prime Minister today. According to the polls, he is still in with a strong chance.

It’s one thing to have the Leader of the Opposition embroiled in a never-ending anti-Semitism scandal but the Prime Minister? Britain could fast become an international pariah for the decent.

And what of the indecent? Left-wing Israeli journalist Anshel Pfeffer makes a grim observation: ‘Jeremy Corbyn is the only radical Left-wing and truly socialist leader on the cusp of power in the West.

‘If Labour under his leadership does win the next general election, his ideology will become hugely influential, across Europe and in America as well. It won’t only be his plans to nationalise railways. It will be his views, informed by decades in the hard Left, and those of many of his followers, towards Jews as well.’

A message would have been sent far and wide that this sort of behaviour is not only acceptable but a vote-winner.

Our Jewish community is small, which is what makes it so easy to pick on them. However, these days Jews who feel under threat have somewhere to go.

France has failed to protect its Jews adequately, especially from Islamist violence, and the results are there for all to see. Since 2000, one in every ten French Jews has emigrated to Israel. They see a country surrounded by terrorists and dictators who want to destroy it and still they feel safer there than in France. Will we allow this to be our future?

If Britain makes Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister it will not be because Corbyn has changed but because Britain has. We would have become the kind of country that accommodates injustice instead of fighting it. That is not our way.

There is still a majority of people who will never give in to the kind of politics that Corbyn represents. They understand what he and his fellow travellers never will: That decency is the most fundamental value of all.


My friend Gordon Darroch is about to have his first book published and I am happy for him, but in a sombre way.

All The Time We Thought We Had, which is coming out from Birlinn next month, is not the book Gordon wanted to write about his new life in the Netherlands, the homeland of his beloved wife Magteld.

The couple met in Italy in 1992 and got married in 2001, later having two wonderful boys, both of whom have autism. Life wasn’t easy for them but they got by. Gordon was helped by a desert-dry sense of humour forged working as a newspaper sub-editor in Glasgow.

Then Magteld was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She fought it valiantly but it is a cruel, merciless condition and she passed away in 2014, only seven weeks after the family had emigrated to Holland.

All The Time We Thought We Had is her story, and Gordon’s, and their boys’, and is about the struggle to make a new life after shattering loss.


Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, admits that the chances of the UK failing to reach a deal with the EU are now ‘60-40’. Fox was one of the Brexiteers who assured us before the referendum that such an agreement would be readily achievable. It’s almost as if these clowns have no clue what they’re doing.

Agree? Disagree? Want to have your say? Email

Originally published in the Scottish Daily Mail. Contact Stephen at  Feature image © Chatham House (cc/nc-nd2.0).

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