Saturday, 27 May 2017

Rewriting History

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All politicians tell 'porky pies' during election campaigns - Donald Trump is probably the most shameless example of all, but if you ask me Jeremy Corbyn is giving him a run for his money with this blatant re-writing of history over Corbyn's many years of support for the 'armed struggle' in Northern Ireland.

Like many other politicians Jeremy Corbyn seems perfectly willing to eat his own words and deny his own history in pursuit of a political prize. 

Read the following piece from Politics Home and the one below by Ruth Dudley Edwards in The Belfast Telegraph.

EXCL Jeremy Corbyn: The IRA were terrorists and their bombing campaign was wrong

By Kevin Schofield and Sebastian Whale

Jeremy Corbyn has said he believes the IRA were terrorists and their bombing campaign during the Troubles was wrong.

Jeremy Corbyn at a campaign event in Hull this morning - Credit: PA Images

The Labour leader's office also insisted that neither he or John McDonnell believe the British Army were "equivalent participants" in the conflict.

Labour bosses clarified the views of the senior party figures after being challenged to do so by the Conservatives.

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire issued five questions to Mr Corbyn and the Shadow Chancellor following several days of controversy over their views on violent Republicanism.

It came after the Labour leader repeatedly failed to unequivocally condemn the IRA during an interview on Sky News.

PoliticsHome passed Mr Brokenshire's questions to Mr Corbyn's team, who issued the following response.

1) Should the IRA’s acts of murder be condemned unequivocally?


2) Were the IRA terrorists?

"Yes. The IRA clearly committed acts of terrorism."

3) Mr McDonnell said last week that ‘no cause is worth an innocent life’. Do he and Mr Corbyn include within their definition of innocent life members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and members of the Armed Forces, for example the 18 soldiers murdered at Warrenpoint in 1979?

"Yes. All loss of life is tragic, as John McDonnell has said."

4) Do Mr Corbyn and Mr McDonnell regard members of the Armed Forces and the IRA as ‘equivalent’ participants during the troubles?


5) If they are unable unequivocally to condemn IRA terrorism, do they actually believe that the IRA campaign, or as they would put it ‘armed struggle’, was both justified and legitimate?

"Jeremy has said that the he was opposed to the IRA's armed campaign."

A spokesman for Mr McDonnell said: "This is a contemptible effort to take John’s comments out of context. He was clearly describing the tragic loss of all life. It is deeply worrying that we have a Secretary of State for Northern Ireland who clearly doesn’t take his job seriously, when he is more interested in playing party politics with the peace process at a time when Stormont is without a working government."

Mr Corbyn this morning praised the "bravery" of nationalists and unionists who helped bring peace to Northern Ireland.

The Labour leader said it was important to recognise that both Republicans and Unionists had "walked a very difficult extra mile" to bring about the Good Friday Agreement.

He said: "We have devolved administration in Northern Ireland and I think we should recognise that that peace was achieved by a lot of bravery, both in the unionist community as well as in the nationalist community, people that walked a very difficult extra mile when they were under pressure from their communities not to do so.

"Both Republicans and Unionists, walked that extra mile and brought us the Good Friday Agreement.

"I think we should use this election as thanking those that brought about the Good Friday Agreement, all of them. Those in government at the time as well all those that did so much on the ground."

The Belfast Telegraph

Jeremy Corbyn's three decades of comfort and aid to the Provisionals

The Labour leader is haemorrhaging traditional supporters among the armed forces. Given his views on Northern Ireland, is it any wonder, asks Ruth Dudley Edwards.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has a long history of sympathising with Irish republicans

The other day, on a London radio station, I heard a furious man denouncing the government, after which the interviewer said: "So, you'll be voting Labour, then?"

The chap almost exploded. "I will not! I was a squaddie."

It was one of the encouraging indications that England hasn't forgotten the IRA and that journalists have begun to do their duty and remind people how Jeremy Corbyn gave them aid and comfort.

When Mr Corbyn became MP for Islington North in 1983, he was already an important figure in pro-IRA circles, such as the Troops Out movement and the Labour Committee on Ireland (LCI), and was on the editorial board of the Trotskyist political magazine London Labour Briefing (LLB).

These groups had no time for any Northern Ireland political parties other than Sinn Fein.

A few weeks after the 1983 Harrods bombing that killed six people, Mr Corbyn flew to Northern Ireland to meet Danny Morrison, famous for having asked a Sinn Fein ard fheis in 1981: "Will anyone here object if, with a ballot paper in one hand and an Armalite in this hand, we take power in Ireland?"

Troops Out marched for immediate and unconditional withdrawal of British soldiers. To the more political LCI, Northern Ireland was a colony, SDLP voters were "cannon-fodder ... manipulated and directed by a sophisticated management caucus" and, in the words of activist Diane Abbott - Mr Corbyn's one-time lover - unionists were an "enclave of white supremacist ideology".

LLB surpassed all of them by praising the bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton during the October 1984 Conservative Party conference.

The objective had been to kill Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and as many members of her Cabinet as possible in revenge for her refusal to capitulate to the demands of the hunger strikers three years earlier.

Five people died and 31 were injured, some of whom were disabled for life.

The LLB editorial had described it as a "serious political misjudgment", but this was utterly disowned in the next issue by the editorial board - of which Mr Corbyn was now general secretary.

He had already made his feelings clear by flaunting Gerry Adams in the House of Commons as his guest.

"We refuse to parrot the ritual condemnation of 'violence', because we insist on placing responsibility where it lies," said the LLB retraction.

"Let our 'Iron Lady' know this: those who live by the sword shall die by it. If she wants violence, then violence she will certainly get."

The only answer was "an unequivocal British withdrawal, including the disarming of the RUC and UDR".

The editorial board also allowed some light-hearted contributions. "What do you call four dead Tories? A start," was one of the rejoicing readers' letters.

The Provisional IRA were fast becoming Mr Corbyn's new best friends.

In 1986, he was arrested for obstruction at a Troops Out rally outside the Old Bailey, called "to show solidarity with the Irish republican prisoners put on trial by the British State".

These included Patrick Magee - the Brighton bomber - and Martina Anderson (now an MLA and then described by the judge as a "hard, cynical young woman... at the centre of the plot") and four other "comrades" arrested when planning a bombing campaign in 13 English towns.

Mr Corbyn and Ms Anderson would be reunited in 2007, when they both spoke at a meeting organised by the Islington North Labour Party.

From 1986 to 1992, Mr Corbyn spoke annually at Sands/Connolly (Bobby and James) commemorations in London to show support for IRA "prisoners of war" and remember the IRA dead. He would pop up frequently at protest meetings honouring "martyrs", like the dead of Loughgall in 1987, sometimes alongside his comrade the Marxist Leninist Trotskyite John McDonnell, an MP from 1997, who in 2003 said publicly: "It's about time we started honouring those people involved in the armed struggle... The peace we now have is due to the action of the IRA."

At one such event, held in 1988, a week after the IRA murdered three British servicemen in the Netherlands, where the programme said "only force of arms... could bring about a free and united socialist Ireland," Mr Corbyn attacked the Anglo-Irish Agreement, because it "strengthened the border".

Having unexpectedly, in September 2015, become Labour Party leader, Mr Corbyn and friends have sometimes felt it necessary to misrepresent what are now rather embarrassing aspects of their past.

I've heard two supporters on radio recently claim that his arrest in 1987 had nothing to do with the IRA, but was at an event demanding the release of Nelson Mandela.

Confronted with embarrassing evidence that they had no difficulty in endorsing an organisation who murdered hundreds of soldiers, police and ordinary trade unionists, along with many others, messrs Corbyn and McDonnell claim they were all the time working to bring about peace and save lives.

Emily Thornberry, the shadow Foreign Secretary, said piously on TV: "I don't think that people should judge Jeremy for trying to talk to people who might be open to a settlement in Northern Ireland."

He did no such thing. He talked only to the representatives of, or sympathisers with, republican killers.

Indeed, Corbyn and McDonnell were no fans of the peace process ("the settlement must be for a united Ireland," Mr McDonnell said early in 1998), though they came to heel when told to do so by the Sinn Fein leadership.

Throughout his adult life, Mr Corbyn has supported pretty well any revolutionaries as long as they're anti-American, but the IRA - unlike his country's forces of law, order and defence - has a special place in his heart.

Now he aspires to be Prime Minister, Mr McDonnell is shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and Ms Abbott is shadow Home Secretary.

Is it any wonder that squaddies are so sickened that veterans are putting signs in their windows telling Labour canvassers to stay away?