The Prospective Foreign Policy of a Corbyn Government and its U.S. National Security Implications.

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The Prospective Foreign Policy of a Corbyn Government and its U.S. National Security Implications. By Dr. Azeem Ibrahim (Hudstone Institute,Sept 2019)

[ Posted by Lara Keller 2/11/19 Updated 14/4/2020 ] anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents  ]
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Sec 1. Author.
Sec 2. Foreword by Rt. Hon. Sir Malcolm Rifkind.
Sec 3. Acronyms and Names.
Sec 4. Political Movements and Groups.
Sec 5. Executive Summary.
Sec 6. Introduction.
Sec 7. Models and Practice of International Relations.
Sec 8. Corbyn’s International Relations Framework and Its Pro-Soviet Influences.
Sec 9. Traditional Models and Universal Human Rights.
Sec 10. Intellectual Strands behind Corbyn’s Model.
Sec 10.1 From the Labour Left.
Sec 10.2 From the Communist Party of Great Britain.
Sec 10.3 From the “New Left”.
Sec 10.4 From Eurocommunism.
Sec 11. Corbyn’s Political Actions across Various Regions.
Sec 11.1 Bosnia.
Sec 11.2 Kosovo.
Sec 11.3 Syria.
Sec 11.4. Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Sec 11.5. Russia.
Sec 11.6. Venezuela.
Sec 11.7. Scotland & Northern Ireland.
Sec 12. Nuclear Weapons.
Sec 13. Multinational Institutions: The European Union and NATO.
Sec 14. Implications for the U.S.
Sec 14.1 Relations with the Republican and Democratic Parties.
Sec 14.2 NATO.
Sec 14.3 Security.
Sec 14.4 Israel and Anti-Semitism.
Sec 15. Summary.
Sec 16. References.
Sec 17. Endnotes.

Sec 1. AUTHOR.

Dr. Azeem Ibrahim is a Research Professor at the Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College and member of the Board of Directors at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at the Department of War Studies at Kings College London University. He received his PhD from the University of Cambridge after which he completed fellowships at the universities of Oxford, Harvard and Yale.

Dr. Ibrahim has published hundreds of articles in the likes of The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Daily Telegraph, Foreign Policy, Chicago Tribune, LA Times and Newsweek. He is also the author of “The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Hidden Genocide” (Hurst 2016) and “Radical Origins: Why We Are Losing the War Against Islamic Extremism” (Pegasus 2017).

Outside academia, Dr. Ibrahim has been a reservist in the IV Battalion Parachute Regiment and an award-winning entrepreneur. He was ranked as a Top 100 Global Thinker by the European Social Think Tank in 2010 and named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.


Dr. Azeem Ibrahim has developed a well-deserved reputation as a thoughtful analyst of the threats and challenges facing modern society.

His study of Jeremy Corbyn’s foreign policy beliefs and prejudices will add to that reputation and deserves to be read by all those interested in, and concerned by, contemporary political developments in the United Kingdom. Dr. Ibrahim not only offers his own views and conclusions but backs them up with copious factual extracts from Corbyn’s own statements, speeches, and actions over many years, during a time when he must have had little expectation of taking leadership of the Labour Party and being seen as a potential prime minister.

Dr. Ibrahim demonstrates how Corbyn’s worldview is warped and lacks any ethical foundation. He provides numerous illustrations indicating that Corbyn has no belief in universal human rights and is prepared to excuse atrocities and persecution if they are carried out by governments he approves of, such as Maduro’s Venezuela or Putin’s Russia.

He concludes that Corbyn, if he were to obtain power, would do grave damage not only to the United Kingdom and the West but to the cause of democracy and liberal values throughout the world.

Dr. Ibrahim acknowledges that if Corbyn became the UK’s prime minister there would be serious limits on his power to deliver the kind of foreign policy he believes in. A substantial majority of Labour members of Parliament would disagree with any attempt to take Britain out of NATO and would not share any enthusiasm for tolerating the Kremlin’s aggression in Ukraine.

It is also highly unlikely that any Corbyn-led government would have a majority in the House of Commons, and it would thus need the support of at least some opposition MPs to win votes in Parliament.

However, President Trump has shown how much can be done simply by a combination of tweets, speeches, and executive orders. That is how he has pursued much of his policy on international trade, on climate change, on China, and on Russia.

Corbyn as prime minister would have little of the global power of a US president, but serious damage he could do. His speeches and statements would be reported throughout the world and bring comfort to unpleasant regimes in Moscow, Caracas, Tehran, and Beijing. He could also weaken the UK’s impressive intelligence agencies by depriving them of funds and ordering them to change their investigative priorities.

Azeem Ibrahim has a distinguished academic background. His report should be read in the White House and the State Department and in other capitals. Hopefully, it will be read in the United Kingdom as well and help ensure that Corbyn is never entrusted with power.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind was a Minister at the UK Foreign Office from 1982-86. He then served as Defense Secretary from 1992-95 and as Foreign Secretary from 1995-97. From 2010-15 he served as Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, with oversight of the UK’s intelligence agencies.

He is a Visiting Professor at the Department of War Studies, Kings College, London.
[LK= He was also a leading cabinet minister in the Conservative Thatcher and Major governments of the 1980s and the 1990s. Politically diametrically opposed to Corbynism.]


The information below provides a short list of individuals and groups mentioned in the paper who may not be immediately recognizable to readers.

AAM = Anti-Apartheid Movement.
CND = Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
CPB = Communist Party of Britain (successor to the CPGB).
CPGB = Communist Party of Great Britain.
EC = European Community.
EEC = European Economic Community.
EU = European Union.
IRA = Irish Republican Army.
KLA = Kosovo Liberation Army.
NATO = North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
OPCW = Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
PCE = Communist Party of Spain.
PCI = Italian Communist Party.
SDLP = Social Democratic and Labour Party.
SNP = Scottish National Party.
StWC = Stop the War Coalition.
SWP = Socialist Workers Party.

Robin Cook:
Labour foreign secretary from 1997 to 2001 and leader of the House of Commons until 2003. Tried to introduce the concept of an “ethical” foreign policy with an emphasis on human rights. Resigned over opposition to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Tony Benn:
A leading left-wing politician in the British Labour Party in the 1970s and 1980s. His supporters were often called Bennites.
Seumas Milne:
Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesman and influential advisor. Previously a member of the hardline, pro-Soviet elements in the CPGB and has a long record of supporting Russian president Vladimir Putin’s actions, both within the former Soviet Union and more widely.
Len McCluskey:
Leader of the British trade union Unite. Very influential over Corbyn, not least as Unite provides most of the funding for Corbyn’s private office and has provided him with a number of policy advisors who previously worked for the union.
John Pilger:
Australian journalist who made his reputation exposing the crimes of the Khymer Rouge in Cambodia. Now writes predictably antiWestern, anti-“imperialist” articles, often cited by Corbyn in support of his positions.


The Tribune Group:
A left-wing grouping in the British Labour Party, important from the early 1960s to the early 1980s, which lost influence after that.
New Left:
An umbrella term for a wide spread of left-wing groups that emerged in the 1960s. Most had concerns about the USSR and tended to make anti-imperialism their core policy. Some were openly Trotskyist in their politics, others more eclectic.
The policy developed in the 1970s by the Italian and Spanish Communist Parties, which became very critical of the USSR and adopted a focus on universal human rights. Both parties backed opposition movements within the Warsaw Pact states.
Scottish National Party:
Now a broadly left-of-center party that argues for Scotland to be independent of the UK. On other electoral issues it has similar policies to the Labour Party, so the two are effectively competing for the same segment of the Scottish electorate, leading to strained relations between them.
Social Democratic and Labour Party:
The Northern Irish sister party of the Labour Party. Notionally supports the nonviolent unification of Ireland, and its MPs used to sit with (and vote for) the Labour Party in the UK House of Commons. It competes with Sinn Féin for the vote of the Catholic nationalist communities in Northern Ireland.
Sinn Féin:
The political wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). In the period from 1968 to 1991, its senior membership overlapped with that of the IRA. It contests UK parliamentary elections but refuses to send MPs to the House of Commons, as it believes the 1922 partition of Ireland to be illegal. In practical terms, it has come to supplant completely the SDLP in the voting preferences of the nationalist segment of Northern Ireland.
Communist Party of Great Britain:
Founded in 1920 and formally dissolved in 1991. By the 1970s, it was largely irrelevant in UK politics but remained important in some trade unions and in the type of organizations and campaigns set up by the wider British left at various times.


Given the current state of UK politics, with the Conservative government focused almost exclusively on Brexit and the resulting electoral uncertainty, the likelihood of a government headed by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has increased substantially. The last UK -wide elections— in 2019, for the European Parliament— suggested that in England and Wales, the vote was spread relatively evenly across four political parties (in Scotland, the nationalist SNP dominated, meaning that each seat was contested by five main parties). In addition, with the “first past the post” electoral system, predictions of who might win a general election are problematic. The UK electoral system means the party with the largest number of votes in each constituency gains the seat in the House of Commons and it is feasible for a party with an overall lower share of the vote to win more seats than this would indicate depending on how evenly their votes are spread across the country. With two major parties, this is rarely a problem, with four (or five) more or less evenly sharing the vote, there is a real risk of an outcome (number of MPs) that is very different to the actual share of the votes.

[LK: In the December 2019 General Election, first past the post benefited the Conservatives who won 365 seats, as opposed to the projected 283 under a basic proportional system.The Liberal Democrats won just 11 rather than 75. In a different election clearly other parties could benefit disproportionately, as the author argues.]

On this basis, it is essential to consider what might be the foreign policy choices of a Corbyn government and how this might affect the United Kingdom’s allies, especially the United States. Corbyn seeks to present his foreign policy as one of support for the oppressed, of opposition to wars and invasions, and as an extension of former Labour foreign secretary Robin Cook’s “ethical” foreign policy. As this paper makes clear, this framing is deceptive—and consciously so. Corbyn has a long record of supporting human rights abusers, as long as they are, in his terms, on the right side, and opposed to U.S. or Western imperialism. Even his vaunted support for the Palestinians falls away when they are attacked by the Bashar al-Assad’s regime rather than Israel. Equally, while it is true that he would seek to end the UK’s current support for Saudi Arabia, he would simply replace it with support for Iran.

If a Corbyn foreign policy will not be an attempt to promote human rights and international cooperation over issues such as climate change, then what will it be? This paper argues that in Corbyn’s worldview, a small number of anti-imperialist states (Russia, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, and China) and a larger number of anti-imperialist movements (such as Hamas and Hezbollah) are threatened by the United States and the “West”. The latter is a rather amorphous concept but appears to include the major states and shared institutions of the post–World War II international order (including military alliances such as NATO and diplomatic and economic alliances such as the European Union). As shown below, Corbyn has tended to assume an automatically pro-Russian stance over a range of issues, including tensions within the former Soviet Union, Syria, and how the Vladimir Putin regime in Russia describes bodies such as NATO and the EU.

If Corbyn’s foreign policy is enacted, this suggests the Corbyn government will play a disruptive role. Some of this will be defended as a correction away from Saudi Arabia and Israel (but toward Iran instead). In other ways, his models of international politics and international trade mean he sees little value in multilateral organizations, so there will be another force pulling apart these longstanding alliances. This is not to argue that such bodies should be beyond criticism, or that they would not benefit from reform, but the key is that Corbyn has no interest in such nuances. These organizations support imperialism and capitalism and must, to use his own words, be defeated.

To explore these issues, this paper takes two approaches. First there is a consideration of the underpinnings and logic behind Corbyn’s view of international relations. That this largely focuses on the debates and disputes between relatively small sections of the British left in the late 1970s may be a surprise to some. However, the views held by Corbyn and his close advisors were all formed in this milieu, and to understand their likely future choices it is essential to explore the intellectual underpinnings. This is followed by brief discussions of Corbyn’s actual response to a number of international issues. These provide evidence for what his views actually mean in practice, and a number of themes recur:

1. He has a binary worldview, with imperialism and capitalism on one side and opposition to them on the other.

2. He condemns human rights abuses by those he sees as supporting imperialism but is dismissive of the abuses carried out by regimes he himself supports. He tends to see any domestic opponents of such regimes not as legitimate protesters but as agents of Western imperialism.

3. He identifies a number of states (such as Russia, Venezuela, Syria, Iran, and, sometimes, China) as the core anti-imperialist states and seems to believe they are constantly being threatened by the U.S. and the wider West.

4. There is never any nuance in his positions, so the messy, brutal civil war in Syria is reduced to an anti-imperialist Assad government struggling against jihadi and Western-sponsored opposition groups. Missing is any reflection of the peaceful initial revolt against Assad or why over 11 million people have been forced from their homes and many have fled the country.

5. The views of his advisors are very important and there are important issues where it is clear they have led him to change his position as a result of their influence. With Putin, Corbyn was initially critical but has increasingly come to support the regime and repeat its arguments. Over nuclear disarmament, he has moved from lifelong opposition to the UK possessing nuclear weapons to support for renewal of the UK’s Trident missile system. If we are to understand how Corbyn will frame a given issue, we need to understand the likely views of his close associates.

In turn, this offers insights into the likely foreign policy of a Corbynled government:

1. In economic terms, he will support a degree of autarky and the UK’s removal from the world economy so he can carry out his desired economic reforms.

2. In terms of international organizations, we can assume the UK will withdraw from the EU (despite opposition from most of the Labour Party) and will play a negative role in organizations such as NATO, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. Outright withdrawal from all these bodies is unlikely due to opposition both within the Labour Party and elsewhere in the British political system.

3. We will see a clear break with the traditional Western preferences for Israel and Saudi Arabia in Middle Eastern policymaking. This may be a much-needed rebalancing, but, in reality, it will be replaced by close support for Iran.

4. We can expect a greater tolerance for the Putin regime’s actions and worldview, and presumably, backing for Russian actions in Ukraine and possibly other former Soviet republics.

How far any of this can be converted from rhetoric to practical action is debatable. There are constraints within the British political system and, in reality, these positions lack majority support among Labour Party members of Parliament. But even if it remains rhetorical, it will represent a major shift in UK foreign policy. And even if the change is limited to the words used, the U.S. will find a Corbyn-led government’s choices and attitudes a major departure from the UK’s traditional views.

The implications for security and possible military cooperation are substantial. Some of Corbyn’s close advisors were long-term supporters of the USSR and seem to have decided that Putin’s Russia is an acceptable successor. Here, they may not be able to implement an active policy change (toward open support for Russia or Iran), but they can be expected to act to stop any attempts to challenge Russian expansionism. In addition, in the sharing of security information, the UK government will cease to be a reliable partner. Again, the practical issue is less that a Corbyn-led government would actively side with Russia (or its allies) and more that it might block or undermine any actions it sees as inimical to Putin’s interests.

In light of the above, it would be prudent for the U.S. national security establishment to give serious consideration to downgrading or even suspending a Corbyn-led government from the Five Eyes intelligence alliance and temporarily demoting its NATO membership. There is a serious risk that any information passed to either Corbyn or his close allies could be compromised, especially if it involves Russia or Iran.


This paper considers what a Labour government in the UK led by Jeremy Corbyn might mean in terms of international relations and U.S. national security. It starts from a consideration of the ideas that have informed his worldview and then looks at how he has responded to events over the last two decades. The final section looks at how his responses reflect his theoretical underpinnings and what might be the practical implications for UK foreign policy and, by extension, U.S. national security.

Corbyn’s view of international relations closely follows the debates and disagreements of a very small section of British politics from the late 1970s—within the Labour Party the ideas of the Tribune Group and those MPs closely associated with Tony Benn; the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB); and what can be clustered together as the New Left (a spread of views developed by various Trotskyist groups and those who had no formal party identification). As we will see, there are important differences among these groups, but some themes emerge consistently. All had a preference for a model of economic relations that tended toward isolationism and autarky (for some this was seen as a needed response to weaknesses in the UK economy, to others it was a desirable outcome in its own right). This made them hostile to the European Economic Community (EEC), the forerunner of the current European Union (EU), both on economic grounds and because they believed it was a political project designed to support wider U.S. imperialism. In turn, all these groups tended to view specifically the U.S. (and, more generally, the “West”) as the root cause of all international problems and to align themselves with what were seen as anti-imperialist movements (even if they disagreed as to which movements met this criterion).

This had implications not just in orientation but in their approach toward human rights abuses. As we will see, they were willing, rightly, to expose and condemn such abuses by the U.S. or its client states, but this did not indicate any commitment to universal human rights. When a movement or state they supported carried out abuses, they either ignored them or carefully placed them into context—usually stating that the abuses were a response to some form of provocation or imperialist action. [1]

As this paper shows, in the main Corbyn closely reflects this mindset. There are states and movements he supports, and he is usually blind to their human rights abuses, even while he is prepared to criticize such actions by states he does not support. In effect, if your abuser is one of his supported regimes, then you have no rights and should have no expectations. So Corbyn, often rightly, has condemned this or that action by Israel toward the Palestinians but remains silent when Palestinians are massacred by the Assad regime. [2]

Thus, to understand Corbyn’s approach to foreign policy, we have to revisit the debates and ideas of what was a very small spectrum of the British political process from the late 1970s and early 1980s. In no other modern setting do the divisions and analyses of groups that mostly no longer exist and that mostly had no mass appeal even at that stage, matter. This alone should be a warning about what his ideas will mean in practice and the extent to which they try to fit the global changes in the last forty years into a very narrow model.

Consequently, Corbyn’s model and practice for international relations are not particularly based on a theoretical development.[3] They more directly reflect whether regimes and movements are considered anti-imperialist. The group of anti-imperialists (states such as Iran, Syria, Russia, Cuba, and Venezuela) is deemed to be under threat by the “West,” which wants to overthrow them for all kinds of nefarious reasons. This is not a policy framework but more akin to the type of conspiracy theory that so often takes root within populist political movements. Supporters of this view tend not to want to deal with any facts but rather to obfuscate them. In particular, any crimes that are carried out by “anti-Western” states in their own geopolitical interests are to be supported, regardless of whether their own population, or those who live in the countries they have invaded or meddled in, might actually be opposed to these actions. In a number of instances—such as the wars in Syria and the former Yugoslavia and the current chaos in Venezuela—Corbyn seems uninterested in the messy details, preferring to deal in broad generalities. [4] [LK= It is not credible to ignore long term cynical immoral monomania in the Western elite’s distortion of foreign policy, that very often can be termed “nefarious”. Author partially makes this point below.]

The core of his beliefs is that if you are oppressed by an anti-imperialist state that he supports, then you have no rights. As a result, he has a consistent record of support for Serbia in the Balkan Wars (it was seen as socialist[5]) and for Assad in Syria (anti-imperialist), and supports the actions and interests of what are seen as the primary anti-imperialist states: Iran, Russia, and Venezuela. [6] In practice, this makes him every bit as cynical in his formulation of international relations as those he claims to see as callous, self-interested supporters of regimes such as Saudi Arabia.

This is not the ethical foreign policy of the Labour foreign secretary in the late 1990s, Robin Cook, redesigned and updated. It [Corbyn’s] is a foreign policy that accommodates dictators, aligns with human rights abusers, and denies human rights to those who oppose these regimes. This is the key concern; it is not a nuanced critique of, say, liberal interventionism or other models of Western foreign policy—it takes the most cynical aspects of the latter but picks a different group of friendly states.

In addition to a deep suspicion of U.S. motives in Corbyn’s longtime policy circles—again not always incorrect—there is also an enduring suspicion of most post-1945 multilateral bodies. Thus, opposition to NATO was standard and shared even in those sections of the left that had concerns about the motives and actions of the USSR. Equally, the EEC was seen as a capitalist club and something to “defeat.” [7] There has usually been limited support for the UN, but this is selective, generally in an obstructive rather than affirmative way. When it comes to Syria, this has meant denying Russian involvement in some attacks, [8] and Corbyn did not accept Assad’s and Russia’s responsibility for an attack on a UN convoy until the UN had conducted an investigation. He also did not want to accept Russian responsibility for the Skripals’ poisoning in March 2018 until the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had conducted its investigation. [9] However, since it was completed (and supported the view of the UK government), Corbyn has been silent. Running through many of his speeches is an insistence on a state’s right to act as it sees fit domestically [10] —if it is a state he supports. In many ways this is a return to a nation-state model of international relations, but his list of favored and rejected states is different from the list promoted by those on the right who tend to share this view of the international order. [11]

In turn, U.S. officials can expect a very different response from the UK in respect of Russian actions, Middle East policy and more generally within various multinational bodies such as the UN and NATO. Some of these changes may reflect the mindset of the Trump administration and its greater tolerance for Putin’s regime and suspicion of international bodies. On the other hand, Corbyn’s pro-Iran, pro-Venezuela attitudes will provoke significant differences. Equally—though this is outside the scope of this paper—his domestic economic policy will be the total opposite of that promoted by the Trump administration. Even a Democratic administration, if it wins the 2020 elections, will find the UK has become a less predictable ally.

The final section of this paper considers what all this means. It clearly does not set the UK on a road toward an ethical foreign policy; instead it reshuffles the diplomatic pack. We could expect the UK under Corbyn to be less tolerant toward Saudi Arabia but instead turn a blind eye to the actions of Iran (both domestically and internationally). We can probably expect less engagement with the international bodies that regulate the world economy (admittedly not always very well). We can also probably predict what Corbyn will say on most issues, as he has a clear list of those he supports and those he opposes. How this can be turned into practical diplomacy or international economic relations is more opaque.


The use of a model or frame of reference to inform foreign policy is not unusual. Nor, unfortunately, is it rare for such a frame to lead to poorly judged decisions. The British state managed to create the disaster of Suez in 1956 using a model of its self-adopted imperial role and importance in the world. New Labour in the UK and the George W. Bush presidency in the U.S. used the model of liberal interventionism to justify the invasion and post-conflict management of Iraq. [12] More recently, the belief that there is no formal international legal framework, so states must act in their perceived self-interest, has made a return—with predictable consequences.

Thus it is not, in the abstract, a problem that Corbyn and his advisors have a model of international affairs and use this to inform their decisions. The consequences can be severe, however, if such a model sometimes fails to generate an appropriate policy in a particular environment. The sensible question is, does it vary based on the circumstances? There is a case to argue that the Bill Clinton/New Labour foreign policy model worked in ending the conflicts in Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone even if it also informed the heavily criticized decision-making in Iraq. [13] [LK= Iraq intervention was an invasion that willfully failed to respectfully or progressively engage with the Iraqi population or the established threats Iraq-Iran and Sunni-Shia conflict. Difficult not to see this aspect as nefarious.]


Corbyn’s understanding of international relations can be best described as a combination of the New Left’s framing of international politics and a Bennite framing of international economic relations. Thus, opposition to Western “imperialism” tends to be his dominant approach, and this also tends to see him offering support to any regime or group that can be characterized as anti-imperialist. [14] However, there is evidence that he has taken on a more pro-Soviet (in the sense of pro-Kremlin) stance in recent years. As noted below, while still a backbencher (in other words a Member of the UK Parliament who has no formal role in the Government or the Opposition), he was happy to sponsor “early day motions” criticizing Putin’s wars in the Caucasus. [15] Such motions are often used in the House of Commons by backbench MPs as a means to raise issues relevant to their own constituencies, to signal their opposition to an aspect of current political policy, or to raise an issue they feel is particularly important but is being overlooked. They almost never influence government policy, meaning that they are popular with those MPs who are on the fringes of their particular political group.

The contrast between this criticism and Corbyn’s current approach to the wars in Ukraine, annexation of Crimea, and use of chemical weapons in the UK is stark. This shift reflects the background of some of those around Corbyn who came from a pro-Soviet, Stalinist political tradition, and this has had a direct impact on his current set of international policies. It also reflects the deliberate choices by the Putin regime to stress the importance of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany as a means to create a link back to the USSR and the extent that current regime generally presents a favorable view of Stalin in popular media.

Corbyn has managed to unite disparate strands of the UK left around him, in part because he offers them a route to influence but also because their old debates about the nature of the USSR, and about reform or revolution, have largely been rendered obsolete by events. Thus, the political and economic strategy of the CPGB (now the Communist Party of Britain, CPB) and the traditional interest of some of the Trotskyist movements in gaining a foothold in the mainstream Labour Party find renewed relevance with Corbyn in charge. Usefully, Corbyn leads a major political party and, at least for a while, seems to have support from people focused on pragmatic concerns such as austerity or tuition fees, allowing them to draw on a much wider electoral base than would ever be attracted to their own policies.

These varying elements came together in a British political campaign, the Stop the War Coalition (StWC), which emerged shortly after the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. It was founded by individuals with links to the CPB and the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party and supported by left-wing Labour MPs such as Corbyn. As such, it was a typical example of the type of organization set up by parts of the British far left to campaign on a specific issue. However, the substantial public opposition in the UK to the planned Iraq War briefly gave the group wider support and, by early 2003, it was able to mobilize over 1 million people to march in London and Glasgow.
[LK= STWC is one of a series of front organizations for the UK far-left.]

Since then, the StWC has shed most of this wider support and returned to the type of arguments typical of the New Left’s interpretation of anti-imperialism. Contentiously, some senior members have indicated support for groups in Iraq (like al-Qaeda) attacking U.S. and UK forces, and backing for the Muammar al-Qaddafi regime in Libya from 2011 to 2012. Since 2012, the StWC has offered support for Assad in Syria. Corbyn remained a committed member even as the StWC reverted to the simplistic anti-imperialism of the New Left. In many ways, the intellectual strands in the StWC leadership encapsulate the core of Corbyn’s approach to international relations. Equally important, the ability to claim that he was right in opposing the war in Iraq allows Corbyn to claim that taking a similar anti-Western approach in every other situation is equally correct.

Thus, Corbyn’s model of international relations is one of anti-imperialism and support for states such as Russia, Iran, and Syria, combined with visceral dislike of Israel as the classic imperialist state. This “Zio-centric” worldview is one reason for the anti-Semitism that Corbyn’s Labour is riddled with, as anyone who is Jewish and fails to sufficiently renounce any support for Israel is by definition a supporter of imperialism. Yes, there is support for Palestine and the rights of Palestinians, but only when these are threatened by Israel. Massacres of Palestinians by Assad (both the current Syrian dictator and his father [16]), when they are allied with the opposition in the Syrian civil war, are not condemned, [17] and indeed, not even mentioned. [LK= Simultaneously opportunistic pro-zionism is also being forced into definitions of anti-Semitism by Zionist PR groups. Corbynism effectively excluding Jews has to be seen partly as a reaction to hard line Zionist triumphalism.]


This framing by Corbyn is at variance with the more usual models of international relations. Very broadly, the main academic debates in traditional models of international relations have tended to be between how state-centric the international order really should be and the dispute over whether there are meaningful extra-national legal systems, [18] the human rights/liberal interventionist model, [19] and its more useful critics. [20] The human rights model, in turn, has tended to cause a divide between those who believe it should sit at the center of any international order and those who believe it should replace the traditional interests of nation-states. [21] The latter tend to argue that issues such as climate change and the growing international refugee crises need to be dealt with because these are now the real threats to the established states and their existing elites. The former draw on post–World War II decisions to enshrine the idea of universal human rights in the UN charter and related documents. [22]

This was a response to the crimes of Nazi Germany (and its allies), Stalin’s Soviet Union, and the deliberate targeting of the wider civilian population by all the powers involved in the war. [23] At its core, it sought to keep states from declaring that rights were possessed only by particular sections of their population (whether this distinction was made on the basis of ethnicity, religion, social class, political allegiance, or gender). However, the concept was rejected by the USSR (and in practice ignored by many states) on the grounds that such a framing of rights was based on liberal capitalist norms and not on the realities of social class and society. [LK= United States also ignored this during monomania on anti-communism, notably in Vietnam. Author partially says this below again.]

Even if only the closest adherents of the USSR in the UK fully accepted this interpretation, the view that rights were inalienable was not widely accepted on the far left. A classic defense of the universalist tradition in human rights was written by Leszek Kolakowski in response to the British communist historian E. P. Thompson. Kolakowski noted that Thompson always had an explanation for any crime by the Soviet Union, seeing it as a product of excessive zeal or an unfortunate overreaction to Western pressure. On the other hand, similar acts by the U.S. and its allies were readily condemned, with no equivocation. Kolakowski wrote that:

“When I say ‘double standards’ I do not mean indulgence for the justifiable inexperience of the ‘new society’ in coping with new problems. I mean the use, alternatively, of political or moral standards to similar situations and this I find unjustifiable. We must not be fervent moralists in some cases and Real-politikers or philosophers of world history in others, depending on political circumstances. [24] ”

[LK= Does philosophical integrity have importance to extremists beyond a means of obscuring unreflective group identity fetish? (See Orwell “Notes on Nationalism” 1945)]

Models of international relations are useful; they can provide a tool for understanding and action, but they can always be flawed in application. [25] Both the traditional “realist” models and those based around liberal interventionism have been criticized for their assumptions and their practical implications. However, simply saying you reject these models is not enough; what matters is what you intend to replace them with. This means we need to understand Corbyn’s model and consider the sort of actions and approaches to which it leads.


Corbyn’s model of international relations (and, critically, that of his advisors) can be traced to three strands that were relatively common on the British left from the 1960s to the 1980s. These have overlapping elements but also some key differences, and the strand that dominates may have significant implications in its practical policy application. The strands can be roughly grouped into the views of the Labour Party left, the CPGB, and the more fragmented “New Left.”


One strand is drawn from the concepts of the Labour Party’s own left from the 1970s and 1980s. Practically, this is often associated with the leading politician Tony Benn. However, it can be more validly seen as the basic framework of a number of Labour politicians who were also part of the then-powerful Tribune Group. In international relations, this strand tended to support calls for nuclear disarmament (unilateral, if needed, by the UK). It called into question the motives and role of the U.S. but also criticized the Soviet Union, especially for human rights abuses and military adventurism. Of particular relevance, there were Labour MPs who supported some multilateral institutions, like the UN, but were often critical of bodies like NATO or the EEC, [26] while some others were in favor of both. It should be noted that Corbyn personally had few links to this tradition at its height, having only been elected to Parliament several years after Tony Benn failed to become deputy leader of the Labour Party in 1981. [27]

This strand also had an economic model that tended to be suspicious of close engagement with wider trading blocs (again, such as the EEC). This had various intellectual strands behind it, including that of the New Cambridge economics group, [28] which argued that the UK economy was so weak that only a degree of protectionism could safeguard jobs and the standard of living. This analysis was subsequently reflected in the Alternative Economic Strategy jointly developed in the early 1980s by Labour politicians and individuals associated with the CPGB. [29]


The next strand relevant to understanding Corbyn’s worldview is the legacy from the CPGB itself. A number of former members are now his close advisors, and all have a background in the CPGB factions that were most vocally pro-Soviet. This group tended to see the world as a clash between the U.S. (which was always wrong) and the USSR (which they did sometimes criticize but saw as basically correct and, at worst, responding badly to U.S. pressure). They also opposed multilateral groups such as the EEC and NATO, which they believed were effectively fully aligned with the U.S. Clearly, their support for the USSR meant some affinity for states both inside and outside the Warsaw Pact that were broadly pro-Soviet, and for any anti-imperialist struggle, as long as the opponent was the U.S. or one of its allies. Many members of this group came to support the Putin regime from the end of the 1990s, seeing it as some form of legacy regime of the Soviet state.

By the late 1970s, the CPGB no longer had any practical influence over UK politics. Electorally it was completely marginalized, but it retained a role in some British trade unions, and organizationally it played a leading role in some of the wider groups that drew together the British left. The relative importance of these groups changed over time, but in the late 1970s and early 1980s two of them, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM), were supported by a substantial minority of the UK population and drew support from most UK political parties. In each, the CPGB provided a significant degree of organizational support. Equally, and typically for many on the British left at the time, Corbyn was heavily involved in both movements. [LK= See far-left “front” organization strategy.]

The CPGB itself was dissolved in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union. It produced several contending successor movements, and one, the CPB, secured ownership of the CPGB’s buildings and its newspaper, the Morning Star. CPB membership was made up of those who regretted the fall of the USSR, often describing it is a major tragedy.

As we discuss below, former CPGB members have come to have disproportionate control over how Corbyn frames foreign affairs, and he has become notably more supportive of the Putin regime’s actions as a result. A long-standing aim, set out in the CPGB’s British Road to Socialism, [30] was to realign British foreign policy to one of “co-operation with socialist states and progressive forces in the capitalist world, and support for the national liberation movements. It should … withdraw from NATO.” More pertinently, the CPGB was committed to influencing the Labour Party to move to the left, so it adopted an “Alternative Economic and Political Strategy” that would remove the UK from NATO and the EEC, creating the basis for a more profound shift to what was often described as “Actually Existing Socialism” (the form of economic, social, and political order in the Warsaw Pact countries). [31]


A more disparate strand comes from the ideas and groups that emerged from the 1960s New Left. [32] This incorporated individuals who were members of various Trotskyist groups and those who remained outside the formal structures of the British far left. The legacy is complex, but it can be summarized as a greater or lesser degree of opposition to the Soviet Union (and to the CPGB), along with a focus on the importance of anti-imperialism and anti-Americanism. If the CPGB saw the world as split into two camps, the Soviet bloc and the bloc dominated by the U.S., the New Left tended to split the world into imperialist and anti-imperialist nations (or movements). In this, one side was good (anti-imperialism) and the other bad (imperialism); the U.S. was the primary actor, and the other side was responding to its aggressions. Thus, any anti-imperialist movement was seen as desirable and worthy of support simply due to this designation.

The ready conflation of Zionism with imperialism and the resultant blurring of the lines between criticism of the Israeli state and anti-Semitism flows from this binary understanding. This has led to the anti-Semitism that is prevalent among a number of Corbyn’s supporters, as, by their definition, anyone who is Jewish and does not fully reject Israel or Zionism falls outside the “community of the good.” [33] This binary belief is important and is shared by many around Corbyn. In this view, a criticism of this or that act of the Israeli state is not enough—any hint of tolerance for it is sufficient to invalidate any other views held by that individual or group. As we will discuss below, this has serious implications for the framing of international policy and the retention of a commitment to universal human rights. [LK= Orwell’s far-left or far-right politics of group definition again. also Israel’s connection to Middle East Western imperialism is an historical reality of survival and convenience.]

Of less importance in terms of international relations is that some of those around Corbyn have also been influenced by the arguments of Italian theorists such as Antonio Negri, whose non-Marxist strand of left-wing thinking draws heavily on the ideas of anarcho-syndicalism that were important in the early years of the twentieth century. [34] As such, it has more of an impact on the economic ideas of these Corbyn associates (in particular, the role of automation). [35] In terms of international relations, Negri’s views are mostly a indistinguishable from the standard New Left approach.
[LK= Unsure if “autonomism” is referred to here, which is a sort of leaderless disruptive tactic (in recent times Occupy). How the far-left love opaque jargon to apparently lend significance.]


In the UK left in the 1970s and 1980s, there was little reflection of some wider trends in the thinking (and practice) of the European left, as befits an essentially Anglocentric, insular, political project. [36] Given their absence, there is no need to say much, but we can draw out one important issue. When the Italian (PCI) and Spanish (PCE) communist parties were developing their ideas of what became known as Eurocommunism, [37] this had little impact on the CPGB (apart from a small group of writers around the magazine Marxism Today) or on the Bennite left. This is problematic for two reasons. First, the PCI, in particular, returned to the concept of universal human rights (as opposed to the class-based approach that underpinned the Soviet legal system) as they steadily dropped any remnants of orthodox Marxism-Leninism. The practical effect was that the PCI and the PCE supported the Helsinki Accords and the Czech dissident group Charter 77. [38] This support actually was more important than it seems, as it stressed the idea that all have rights, not just those deemed to be suitable by a ruling regime (with this subject to change at any time). Second, the PCI (and even more the PCE) came to the view that the Soviet Union was a greater threat to stability and peace in Europe than the U.S. or NATO. To them, the division of Europe into two competing blocs was a major issue that had to be resolved, in part by the Soviet Union reducing its military threat to Western Europe. [39] This position varied over time, but it saw the PCI offer practical and moral support to dissident movements such as Solidarity in Poland [40] and condemn the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.


It is useful to explore the practical meaning of an intellectual model that prizes support for anti-imperialist states (or movements) above all else and has no commitment to universal human rights. This section covers Corbyn’s approach to a range of international issues and related themes, such as the UK’s retention of nuclear weapons. It also discusses his differing approaches to nationalist movements in Northern Ireland and Scotland. It ends with a discussion of his approach to the European Union, as that seems to draw together both his economic and political framing of how the UK should interact with the wider world.

Sec 11.1 BOSNIA.

Corbyn himself has said little directly about the wars in Croatia and Bosnia that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia after 1990. To most observers, [41] the main driver of the ethnic cleansing was Serbian president’s, Slobodan Milošević, willingness to adopt a narrow Serb nationalist perspective, [42] created the dynamics which led to massacres in eastern Croatia and across Bosnia to buttress his rule in Serbia and that of his allies in eastern Bosnia. However, to some of Corbyn’s supporters, the wars in Yugoslavia were an attempt to destroy a socialist state [43] and, according to Katie Hudson, then chair of CND, “the truth is that Milošević was no hardcore Serb nationalist but a lifelong socialist, whose commitment was always to a multiracial, multi-ethnic Yugoslavia.” [44]

Corbyn expressed support [45] in a parliamentary early day motion for Hudson’s book, “Breaking the South Slav Dream”. [46] Hudson’s thesis was that Milošević was acting reasonably to keep Yugoslavia together and was not guilty of any war crimes. Equally, the breakup of the Yugoslav state after 1990 was due to Western intervention, not the actions of regional leaders. U.S. pressure for economic liberalization in the decade after Marshal Tito’s death had encouraged Croatia and Slovenia to weaken their ties with the Yugoslav state. In turn, this led to their secession and to Milošević’s efforts to hold the old state together.

Corbyn has since met individuals such as Marcus Papadopoulos, [47] who claimed that “there was no siege of Sarajevo, there was no genocide at Srebrenica,” and who uses Islamophobic language to describe the Muslim communities in Bosnia. The denial of Serb war crimes was a major element of this discourse, and later, Seumas Milne, now Corbyn’s press secretary, asserted that the post-Milošević Serbian regime dug up bodies unrelated to the war in Bosnia to provide the evidence needed for Milošević’s conviction at The Hague. [48]

Sec 11.2 KOSOVO.

Concerning the conflict in Kosovo, Corbyn was much more vocal. This conflict had started as a low-level process (compared to events in Bosnia) of resistance to remaining in Yugoslavia on the part of the Muslim majority and of some ethnic cleansing by the Serb authorities. By the late 1990s, it had escalated to something approaching full-scale civil war. One problem was that the main resistance group to Serb control, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), was widely seen as also engaged in substantial criminality and this, combined with the region’s relative isolation, limited outside support as intervention was geographically much harder than it had been in Bosnia. [49]  Nonetheless, as part of the wider peacemaking process in the former Yugoslavia, a cease-fire was agreed upon in October 1998, and this was formalized in the 1999 Rambouillet Accords. [50] The standard response on the far left was to denounce this as another attack on the “socialist” state of Serbia designed to do little but provide a pretext for a subsequent NATO-led assault. [51] Instead, Serb-led ethnic cleansing carried on (to be fair, there were plenty of attacks on ethnic Serbs, too), and some 300,000 Kosovars were displaced from their homes and about 2,000 killed before the NATO military intervention started. [52] During the military operations, many more Kosovars were displaced from their homes by Serb forces, and 13,517 were killed or went missing.

Corbyn called for the NATO intervention to be stopped because of the risk of civilian casualties, because it violated state sovereignty, and because it was not endorsed by the UN Security Council. [53] Subsequently, left wing journalist John Pilger published an article claiming that the death toll was just 2,788, an assertion he has maintained since then, arguing that this includes those killed by NATO bombs and by the KLA. [54] Russia Today (RT), in effect the Kremlin’s main international propaganda channel, continues to repeat this claim. [55] Corbyn then signed an early day motion supporting Pilger’s contention that there were no mass murders in Kosovo in the period up to 1999 and noted the ongoing pollution caused by NATO’s use of depleted uranium. [56] That Pilger’s views about the death toll have been comprehensively rebutted was of no apparent concern to Corbyn.[57]

In combination, Corbyn’s responses to the events in Bosnia and Kosovo point to several core themes in his foreign policy model. Fundamentally, he sees the Milošević regime as some form of socialist, anti-imperialist state, and the various conflicts that arose after 1991 as products of Western attempts to undermine it. This is the view promoted by Katie Hudson, which rejects any argument that the root causes of the war include Milošević’s use of Serb nationalism to create a basis for his own regime. [58] In contrast, yes it is true there was a residual attachment to the ideals of a multi-ethnic united Yugoslavia, but it was found among those trying to sustain the idea of a multi-ethnic Bosnia and not among the Bosnian Serb nationalists engaged in ethnic cleansing. In neither Bosnia nor Kosovo has Corbyn shown identification with the Muslim population, and his associates downplay or deny that Serb war crimes took place in Srebrenica or in Kosovo.

This is not to say that criticizing either the wartime resistance by forces supporting both the Bosnian state and the KLA is invalid. [59] Elements of both have been found guilty of war crimes since the conflict ended. Equally, it is valid to criticize Western diplomacy, especially the appeasement of Milošević in the early stages of the wars with Croatia and Bosnia. [60] But this nuance is not the point of Corbyn’s critique, which views Serbia as a socialist state and believes that its opponents, the West and the Muslim communities, became the enemy and were wrong. In this view, once you are wrong, you have no rights.

Sec 11.3 SYRIA.

Corbyn’s opposition to the U.S.-UK invasion of Iraq is well documented and was shared by a substantial segment of the UK electorate at the time. The long-running “Chilcot Inquiry” definitively refuted the Tony Blair government’s arguments for the war and the conduct of postwar restructuring. Corbyn’s policy toward Syria draws heavily from this experience: He was right then, so he must be right now. But there is a subtle twist to his position. In the run-up to the Iraq War there were very few in the UK who actually supported Saddam Hussein; the debate was on the wisdom of the George W. Bush administration’s chosen course of action, which was backed by the UK. On Syria, it is less that Corbyn is opposed to Western actions and more that he is supportive of the Assad regime and its backers in Russia and Iran.

This has meant demonizing the Syrian opposition as stooges of the U.S., allies to the Saudis, and jihadis. His close policy advisor, Seumas Milne, managed to extend this to an argument that the United States was responsible for ISIS: “A year into the Syrian rebellion, the US and its allies weren’t only supporting and arming an opposition they knew to be dominated by extreme sectarian groups; they were prepared to countenance the creation of some sort of ‘Islamic state’ — despite the ‘grave danger’ to Iraq’s unity— as a Sunni buffer to weaken Syria.” [61] In a similar manner, Corbyn intervened in a debate in May 2013 on the EU arms embargo on Syria to warn against “supplying arms to people [the Syrian rebels] we do not know” and made a link to “the way the USA raced to supply … arms to [the] opposition in Afghanistan in 1979, which gave birth to the Taliban and, ultimately, al-Qaeda.”

Since then, senior members of the StWC [LK=UK Stop The War Coalition] have followed the arguments of people like notionally pro-Palestinian polemicist, Max Blumenthal and linked the Syrian White Helmets to al-Qaeda or ISIS rather than treating them as an unofficial humanitarian group doing its best to offset the impact of regime (and Russian) bombing. [62] The White Helmets openly acknowledge they have received U.S. funding for their work and, predictably, that is enough for them to be described by the far left as a tool of U.S. imperialism laying the groundwork for a U.S. invasion. [63] The Russian state-sponsored news agency Sputnik has since described them as “Soros sponsored.” [64] But acceptance of U.S. funding was not unusual for many humanitarian groups, at least before the Trump presidency; even the Palestinian Red Crescent has taken such support and used it to treat Palestinians wounded in Israeli actions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

After the Assad regime used chemical weapons on a suburb of Damascus in 2013, Corbyn appeared on the Russian state TV channel RT to express openness to the theory that the Syrian opposition had actually dropped the chemical weapons. [65] At the same time, his now-key advisor Seumas Milne was writing that:

“the trigger for the buildup to a new intervention — what appears to have been a chemical weapons attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta — certainly has the hallmarks of a horrific atrocity. Hundreds, mostly civilians, are reported killed and many more wounded, their suffering caught on stomach-churning videos.
But so far no reliable evidence whatever has been produced to confirm even what chemical might have been used, let alone who delivered it. The western powers and their allies, including the Syrian rebels.rebels, insist the Syrian army was responsible. The Damascus government and its international backers, Russia and Iran, blame the rebels.” [66]

The reality, of course, is that the Assad regime had been using chemical weapons before the August attacks and continued to do so afterward. [67]

Corbyn’s approach to Syria repeats some of the themes noted earlier. Once a regime is deemed anti-imperialist, its victims retain no rights to dissent or resist. The reality—of a messy, nasty civil war that was spawned from a peaceful revolt against the Assad regime but saw war crimes by every faction and became an international arena for the wider Iranian-Saudi conflict—is missing. [68] Equally, the almost 6 million refugees who have fled the country, [69] and the further 6 million internally displaced, [70] go missing from Corbyn’s narrative. Instead, we are given a narrative of imperialism and anti-imperialism, one that glosses over the role played by Russia and Iran, with the Russian presence deemed acceptable as long as it is for peacekeeping purposes. [71] After an attack by Russian planes on a UN aid convoy in September 2016, Corbyn could not actually bring himself to blame the Russians for the attack directly, instead presenting it as some awful, random accident. [72]

As noted above, in the context of Syria, StWC ceased to claim that its concern was the impact of wars on other countries and, in the context of Syria, became apologists for the Assad regime. In its view, Western intervention in Syria was not questionable because it was ill thought out or badly implemented but because it was an attack on a regime the StWC supported. Attempts by Syrian refugees living in the UK to challenge this narrative or alignment have been silenced by the StWC and its supporters. [73]


The binary, non-reflective model can also be seen in Corbyn’s response to the tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, two powers whose relationship has formed the major dynamic in the Middle East since 1979. [74] Western policy has tended to share the Saudi antagonism toward Iran, going as far as to offer fairly open support to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein during his long war with Iran from 1980 to 1988. [75] [LK= US gave extensive military support to Saddam Hussein to attack the Iranian Revolutionary Islamic Regime. The Iranian Regime’s vigorous undermining of post Saddam Iraq was thus absolutely predictable.] Equally, there has been a willingness among Western leaders to overlook domestic repression in Saudi Arabia while condemning the brutality of the Iranian regime. Furthermore, it is true that both Western States, and bodies such as the IMF, have overemphasized the recent reform agenda of the Saudis while enforcing sanctions against Iran that have caused domestic reforms there to falter. [LK= Iranian Regime clerical-military elite have absolute control of the regime and are embedded in extensive corruption, that makes sustained internally driven reform improbable.]

This strongly suggests that a human rights–based foreign policy by a Western power should aim for some degree of equivalence, holding both Iran and Saudi Arabia responsible for their actions domestically and internationally, offering support for democratic reform movements in both, and equally accepting that both regimes do have their own dynamics, concerns, and worldview.

This is not what Corbyn does. Yes, he has been very critical of Saudi Arabia, but this is not matched by a similarly critical approach to Iran, for which he has expressed support. [76] In effect, for Corbyn, Iran has joined Russia and Venezuela as a key state resisting Western imperialism and has become worthy of support regardless of its actions. The Scottish writer Sam Hamad has suggested that:

“Corbyn could easily be described as a lobbyist for the Iranian regime. In the same sleazy manner as the Tory politicians, so hated by Corbyn and his supporters, who claim to support ‘human rights’ in Saudi Arabia before selling them weapons and the means to maintain their domestic tyranny, Corbyn has strongly advocated that such relations be transferred from Saudi’s brutal theocracy to that of the Iranian regime.” [77]

Hamad’s 2016 article was written several years after the Iranian regime had crushed internal dissent (the Green Revolution), and its own Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and proxy militias were involved in sectarian violence in Iraq and Syria. [78] Corbyn’s criticism of the Saudis may represent a needed balance against the foreign policy of Conservative and Labour governments, but his interest in human rights does not extend to the victims of the Iranian regime or its proxy states. [79] Thus, as above, the crimes of a state he supports go unchallenged, certainly downplayed, while the crimes of a state he opposes are clearly labelled as such. Again, we come back to the same argument: He is not making a case for a different approach to UK foreign policy—unlike, say, Robin Cook —but is simply replacing near- unconditional support for one authoritarian regime that engages in domestic and international repression with support for another. [80]

This repeats the contradiction noted by Leszek Kolakowski in the mid 1970s. Fundamentally, one either accepts the logic of universal human rights or replaces it with a framework of rights only for those who meet particular criteria. In the first framing, one cannot selectively apply principles of opposition to oppression in one area while supporting or ignoring it in another. But this is what Corbyn has done: While he wants a British government to end the oppression of Palestinians and end Saudi Arabia’s vicious war in Yemen, he has also been one of the most consistent voices in advocating that nothing be done to aid Syrians fighting for democracy (and their lives) against Assad and in backing Iran’s domestic and international policy.

Sec 11.5 RUSSIA.

One common criticism of Corbyn is that he rarely changes his mind and that his entire intellectual framework remains stuck in the 1970s. However, there is evidence that he has changed his views toward Putin’s Russia. In the late 1990s, he signed a number of early day motions condemning Putin’s war in Chechnya and the resulting human rights abuses, but over time this has shifted. [81] Now, with Syria and with the use of chemical weapons in the UK against the Skripals, he is happy to match the rhetoric of RT [LK= “Russia Today”]. In the latter case, he was prepared to call into doubt Russia’s involvement in the poisoning, and Milne told the UK press:

“I think obviously the government has access to information and intelligence on this matter which others don’t; however, also there’s a history in relation to WMD and intelligence which is problematic to put it mildly. … So I think the right approach is to seek the evidence; to follow international treaties, particularly in relation to prohibited chemical weapons, because this was a chemical weapons attack, carried out on British soil. There are procedures that need to be followed in relation to that.” [82]

Critically, Milne quite deliberately linked the failures of British intelligence in the run up to the invasion of Iraq (where their findings had been used to support claims that Hussain had weapons of mass destruction) to the verity of their findings after the attack in Salisbury.

Even after the OPCW had indicated that the likely source of the nerve agents used was Russia, Milne and others continued to demand further proof while supporting the arguments advanced by RT and other pro-Kremlin news outlets. At the same time, Corbyn demanded that any intelligence that implicated Russia be shared with them. In his view, since the Western intelligence agencies had been wrong about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction, they must be wrong now. However, even if the intelligence information had been partly redacted, providing it to Corbyn would have made it easy for the Russian security forces to understand the processes used to gather the information and the likely sources.

As leader of the opposition, he could make such demands but not do much more. He was, no doubt, briefed on confidential terms as to what the UK government knew, but the government could have presented this information in a manner that would have been hard to pass on (and of limited use if it was). If he were prime minister, then in a similar situation, he would determine what should happen, and the risk is that such intelligence would indeed be shared with the Russians. This calls into serious question the extent to which routine intelligence-sharing with the UK could be sustained during a Corbyn led government.

This shift toward Russia is important. As noted earlier, a key group around Corbyn has a background in the hard-line, pro-Soviet factions of the old CPGB. One of these, Seumas Milne, has written extensively — and invariably supportively — about Putin’s actions in Crimea, Georgia, Ukraine, and Syria. In isolation, some of his claims may have some validity, but taken together they present a very consistent view, and one that Corbyn has embraced. For example, about the annexation of Crimea, Milne wrote that Russia’s actions were “clearly defensive” [83] and that “western aggression and lawless killing is on another scale entirely from anything Russia appears to have contemplated, let alone carried out — removing any credible basis for the US and its allies to rail against Russian transgressions.” [84] In effect, Putin was right, and even if he was not, then at least he is not as bad as the Western leaders.

Milne framed the earlier attack on Georgia as a legitimate response to U.S. expansion: “By any sensible reckoning, this is not a story of Russian aggression, but of US imperial expansion and ever tighter encirclement of Russia by a potentially hostile power. That a stronger Russia has now used the South Ossetian imbroglio to put a check on that expansion should hardly come as a surprise.” [85] By 2015, he wrote about the war in eastern Ukraine:

“Russia has now challenged that, and the consequences have been played out in Ukraine for the past year: starting with the western-backed ousting of the elected government, through the installation of a Ukrainian nationalist regime, the Russian takeover of Crimea and Moscow-backed uprising in the Donbass. On the ground, it has meant thousands of dead, hundreds of thousands of refugees, indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas and the rise of Ukrainian fascist militias.” [86]

Again NATO (and/or the EU) is held to be clearly to blame, as “NATO’s eastward expansion was halted by the Georgian war of 2008 and Yanukovych’s later election on a platform of non-alignment,” he wrote. “But any doubt that the EU’s effort to woo Ukraine is closely connected with western military strategy was dispelled today by NATO’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who declared that the abortive pact with Ukraine would have been ‘a major boost to Euro-Atlantic security.’” [87]

In a way, this is different from Corbyn’s original mindset of imperialism against anti-imperialism. As with Assad’s Syria, this has morphed into open support for a state, and one that has engaged in aggressive actions against the other independent republics that emerged from the fall of the Soviet Union. What is similar, though, is the lack of concern for the human rights of those who are deemed to be on the wrong side. Members of the Muslim Tatar ethnic community in Crimea reported that their citizenship had been revoked and their rights denied shortly after the Russian takeover, but this has not been challenged by Corbyn or his advisors.


The success, or otherwise, of Venezuela’s social reforms during the Hugo Chávez era is probably one of the most contentious issues in both international politics and the assessment of social policy. To the George W. Bush presidency (and its supporters), Chávez was clearly wrong; the U.S. government made various attempts to end his presidency, seeing his regime not just as a close ally of Cuba, but also an attempt at a conventional Marxist-Leninist dictatorship. [88] On the other hand, the regime set itself the goal of gaining control over oil revenues (which had previously been taken out of the country and held by a small group of families) to fund a cluster of policies designed to alleviate poverty. [89] Drawing a balanced view of the outcomes of Chávez’s presidency is not easy, as the economy remained oil dependent, and there was high inflation. [90] However, education was expanded, [91] and the poverty rates dropped from 61 percent of the population in 1997 to 33 percent in 2007. [92]

Whether or not Chávez was redefining socialism away from the old Soviet model is debatable, but his failure to reform the economy in time undermined his other reforms when the price of oil started to collapse after 2010. Nonetheless, aspects of his approach attracted widespread support—and an interest in how to apply them elsewhere. Not surprisingly, his regime also attracted the support of those from the New Left tradition, since Chávez presented himself as anti-imperialist and as someone who rejects the Washington Consensus (that the only acceptable route for a developing economy was to open itself up to international competition and privatize key services) on development policies. [93] His successor, Nicolás Maduro, lacks his deftness at balancing these issues, and Venezuela’s state revenues, like those of other oil-based economies, have declined substantially. The result has been a shift to open authoritarianism, alliances with Russia and Iran, and an economic crisis that has seen over 3 million Venezuelans flee the country since 2014 and many more displaced from their homes. [94]

Chávez also consistently managed to obtain democratic mandates for his actions, whether by elections or referendums. While there have been doubts about the validity of some of these results, on balance he clearly had substantial domestic support and was prepared to abide by the outcomes. In contrast, Maduro first arrested the main opposition leaders in 2013 and then set up a “Constituent Assembly” in 2017 to bypass parliament after he had suffered an electoral defeat. [95] He then called a presidential election that was boycotted by the opposition due to fears of fraud and ongoing state-sponsored violence. The result was rejected by almost every other Latin American government, and Maduro has since called for fresh elections to his Constituent Assembly (currently only including members of the ruling party) in an attempt to legitimize his victory and further sideline parliament. [96]

By any reasonable definition, this is a coup and a destruction of conventional democracy, and it has been challenged as such by most external powers, though China, Russia, and Iran have stood with Maduro. Corbyn (and his supporters [97]) have ignored this assault on democracy and the domestic political violence by the regime, continuing to support it on the grounds that Venezuela is an anti-imperialist state. [98] As with the Balkans and Syria, Corbyn believes that if you are being oppressed by a regime he supports, then you have no rights and are most likely a tool of U.S. imperialism. That the Trump presidency has challenged Maduro seems to be sufficient reason to dismiss all the other states (and international bodies, such as the EU) that have not recognized the results of the 2018 Venezuelan presidential election.


Corbyn’s approach to international relations can also be readily explored in his different responses to Irish and Scottish nationalism and their calls for either unity within Ireland or independence from the remainder of the UK. The issue here is not whether either goal is correct, but how Corbyn has responded.

In the context of Northern Ireland, he has a long history of sympathy for Irish republicanism, expressed politically by Sinn Féin, but also through the terrorism of the IRA and its various spinoffs. Corbyn has repeatedly argued that his contacts with hard-line Irish republicans were necessary, as to end a war one must talk to the other side. What is clear is that he made no effort to contact any of the loyalist groups that also were making a slow move from paramilitarism to democratic politics. In general, his record suggests that he was supportive of Sinn Féin’s policies but had no direct contact with the IRA—as such (but this is not a clear distinction given the cross-over of individuals between the two organizations). [99] However, there is equally no record of close involvement with the democratic nationalist party in this era, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), which sent MPs to Westminster and generally supported the UK Labour Party. In effect, he has been sympathetic toward Irish republicanism and seems well aware of the internal debates it has had about ending its terrorist campaign, but he has simply reflected the shifting position of Sinn Féin toward the peace processes in Northern Ireland. Thus, he opposed the mid-1980s agreements between the British and Irish governments, but enthusiastically accepted the Good Friday Agreement (which was negotiated with close attention to the wishes of Irish republicans, among others). [100]

In contrast, his approach to Scottish independence can be characterized as tone deaf. He has made no effort to engage with the Scottish National Party (SNP) and seems unaware of why that party holds the views it does. This cannot be simply because the SNP is an electoral competitor to the Labour Party, as Sinn Féin has also taken seats off the SDLP and thus reduced the wider non-Conservative bloc in the House of Commons (Sinn Féin does not sit in the UK Parliament, as it believes the 1922 partition of Ireland was illegal). On the peace processes in Northern Ireland, he has simply followed the shifting line adopted by Sinn Féin. There is now some evidence that his opposition to EU membership has caused problems with Sinn Féin, as it wishes the UK to retain membership in the EU and opposes anything that threatens the current all-Ireland arrangements. [101]

One explanation is that when Corbyn formed his political views, the issue of Scottish independence had little interest outside Scotland, while the IRA’s bombing campaigns made the issue of Northern Ireland very much relevant. More generally, the wider UK far left all supported some form or other of Irish republicanism, and it is likely he simply absorbed this. At the same time, most of the organized UK left was opposed to Scottish independence on the grounds it would fragment the British working class. Thus, Corbyn’s current worldview again reflects the norms of the 1970s British left, and he has a closer understanding of the dynamics of a political party with past involvement in terrorism than one with a long-standing commitment to democratic change.

[LK= The failure of the Northern Ireland Civil rights Movement of the 60’s and 70’s exposed a long established fanatical apartheid dynamic exploiting conflict between protestant and catholic working classes. Protestants saw the UK government as an ally, especially under conservative governments. A purely democratic solution was unlikely. In Scotland there is more cohesion due to the relative neglect from distant London based governments. The North Sea oil issue has declined. Independence would lead to a vitalized national dynamic, balanced against an even less accountable elite and insular arguments contrasting egalitarianism with growth.]


Corbyn has been a lifelong member of CND, and several of his officials were previously senior members. Thus, one would expect that his first manifesto for a general election would at least challenge renewal of the UK’s nuclear missile deterrent, known as the Trident, even if it did not call for immediate abolition of the UK’s nuclear weapons. Instead, the manifesto actually, in contrast to the position of the SNP, supported renewal of the Trident. The SNP’s views are relevant here, in part because Britain’s submarines are based in Scotland, and in part because the 2017 general election included a contest between the SNP and Labour for votes in Scotland.

As with Russia, where Corbyn has changed his mind, one can trace the reason to his close associates. In this case, Len McCluskey, leader of the Unite union — Corbyn’s principal financial backer — is pro-Trident, as the renewal would benefit Unite members by creating some jobs. [102] In this respect, the issue is not whether unilateral nuclear disarmament or shifting defense spending from the Trident to conventional weapons is a good idea; it is how the change came about. A lifetime’s commitment was overturned due to the views of a powerful member of Corbyn’s inner circle. And, at least in Scotland, the policy probably cost him votes, as the SNP was able to stress that it was consistent in arguing for the Trident’s removal.


Corbyn has been a long-standing critic of the EEC/EU, forming part of a very small group of Labour MPs who have found common cause with the larger group of British Conservatives who have been obsessed with this issue for many years. [103] In reality, he goes beyond the Eurosceptic tradition in British politics; in a speech in 2010, he called for the EU to be defeated. [104] Here, the EU was grouped with bankers and the IMF as a threat to living standards, and he declared that “we will not be silenced by these people. We will win through. We will defeat them, and we will win that decency that we want in this world.” This moves Corbyn’s attitude from traditional British Euro-scepticism to the type of view found more commonly on the extreme right of British politics.

As discussed above, this opposition to the EU (and in its earlier forms, the EC and the EEC) is based on both economics and politics.

By the late 1970s, there was sustained concern over the state of the UK economy. Underinvestment meant it was not competitive globally and, in particular, imports far outstripped exports. [105] This weakness led to a number of divergent proposals. To the right, the solution was to reduce workers’ rights, end the influence of trade unions, and diminish the role of the state. [106] To some on the left, the solution was partially to remove the UK economy from the international trade networks while it rebalanced itself and dealt with these structural issues. Those in the latter camp, organized as the New Cambridge Economics group, took a mostly left-Keynesian view of the economy and saw protectionism as a temporary move to be implemented while major reforms were enacted. [107] Once the Thatcher government started to carry out its economic policies, some on the left (especially the Tribune Group and the CPGB) created an Alternative Economic Policy, which tended to support converting the economic isolation proposed by the New Cambridge Group into a permanent state for the economy. [108] In effect, the only way to ensure the economy could work for most people was by having a degree of separation from the world economy. Since even at the time, this was the opposite of the EEC’s approach, this inevitably meant calling for the UK to withdraw from membership.

The other historical strand to Labour Euroscepticism was political. Some of this was a framing, shared with the Conservative right, about loss of “sovereignty” and having to accept decisions made outside the UK, but it went deeper. In effect, in their view, the EEC/ EU is, and has been, a capitalist institution that acts as one of the agents of Western imperialism. In addition, there is a (flawed) belief that EU membership is incompatible with a broadly social-democratic domestic economic policy.

Thus, whether Corbyn personally voted Leave or Remain in the Brexit referendum of 2016 is irrelevant; what matters is that his view of both international politics and international economics means he can see no reason why the UK should remain a member of the EU. [109] While in the 1970s, there were those who saw a shift to some form of trade barriers as a sensible short-term response to deep-seated problems, that is not Corbyn’s understanding: He actually wants a degree of permanent economic isolation from the wider world economy.

Fundamental opposition to NATO has also been a consistent strand in Corbyn’s approach. In part this simply reflects the traditional Soviet description of NATO as a tool of imperialism. More recently, as discussed in connection with Russia, a typical argument of those around Corbyn is that NATO is responsible for the various wars in Georgia, Crimea, and Ukraine. This is said to be due to its expansion, which first entailed incorporating the former Warsaw Pact states (such as Poland), and subsequently involved offering cooperation agreements with former constituent parts of the USSR. Underlying this idea is a view that Russia (as the legal successor to the USSR) has a sphere of interest that still includes the former Soviet republics and members of the Warsaw Pact. [110] In turn, this approach opposes these states’ developing their own foreign policy and trading links. [111] Of note, not only are these arguments stock in trade for those around Corbyn, but they also form part of the views of the newly emboldened nationalist right in Europe and are staples for RT and other pro-Kremlin news agencies. [112]


As stressed in this paper, Corbyn’s model of international relations is not one of international cooperation, universal human rights, and cooperation on issues such as climate change or the growing global refugee crises. He is suspicious of existing multilateral institutions, he has no commitment to the human rights of those oppressed by regimes he supports, and his ability to broker international cooperation on anything is doubtful.

If Corbyn becomes prime minister, the U.S. will be faced with a former ally that sees Iran, Russia, and Venezuela as close allies and is supportive of the Assad regime in Syria. This goes well beyond seeking to correct the problems that have been caused by too-close ties with the Saudis, Israel, or right-wing governments in regions such as Latin America.

There is a core theme to this re-framing of the UK’s foreign policy. It is supportive of the Putin regime, and thus a Corbyn-led government is likely, at the very least, not to support wider efforts to respond to Putin’s aggressive acts. Furthermore, there are clear security implications. A number of Corbyn’s close officials are former CPGB members who are quite open about their nostalgia for the USSR and make clear their belief that the Putin regime is some form of successor to the Soviet Union. There can be no guarantee that intelligence shared with a Corbyn government will not simply be transferred to Russia.

This was particularly clear in the immediate aftermath of the Skripals’ poisoning with the nerve agent Novichok by Russian security forces. Corbyn called for all the intelligence to be shared with Russia, despite the strong risk of revealing sources and methods, even if the information was partly redacted. In addition, because of the misuse of intelligence to support the attack on Iraq, he clearly placed more trust in the assertions of the Russians than in those of Western intelligence agencies even, presumably, after he had been briefed confidentially on what the UK government knew. If he was prime minister, he could choose to share such information.


If Corbyn becomes prime minister and President Trump is still in power, the two will likely disagree fundamentally about a transfer of UK support from Saudi Arabia and Israel to Iran and about other issues, such as Venezuela. However, there are points of agreement—perhaps surprising, given their notionally separate political backgrounds. Both are suspicious of multilateral bodies, in particular the European Union, and both are sympathetic to Putin’s Russia. It is unlikely these shared elements will offset their major ideological differences, but it may mean the UK will play a disruptive role in multilateral organizations similar to that adopted by the Trump administration, even if there is little practical cooperation.

A Democratic administration may also find it hard to work closely with Corbyn. It might be more accepting of a policy of distancing the UK from the Saudis (possibly even from Israel, though this would cut across a consistent strand in U.S. foreign policy). However, it is unlikely that any shift to support Iran will be welcomed. Equally, it is unlikely that a Democratic president will share President Trump’s ambiguity toward Putin’s regime, making this a potentially major breach in traditional UK-U.S. cooperation.

The extent to which these issues become major disputes or minor disagreements will probably depend on how far a new Democratic president personally disagrees with the policies followed by the Clinton and Obama administrations. Presumably someone who was part of those administrations, and shares their wider worldview, will find it hard to work with Corbyn. Someone who has some reservations about the foreign policy choices in those years might find it easier to work with him at a policy level, but concerns over the sharing of confidential information will remain.

Sec 14.2 NATO.

As noted, Corbyn comes from that section of the British left where opposition to NATO membership is common. It is unlikely that a Corbyn-led government would actually withdraw from NATO, at least in the first five years after an election before a new round of voting, but it could change how the UK interacts with the organization. Such a government would be unlikely to allocate additional funding to conventional defense spending, although some in the Labour Party would be prepared to use resources that would be freed up if the Trident is not renewed. In international cooperation, a Corbyn government will limit the availability of British forces, perhaps to instances where there is a clear humanitarian need.

However, the main change will be at the level of policy formulation and how the UK interacts with the US and its traditional allies. A Corbyn-led government would be, at the very least, far more understanding of the demands of Putin and the Kremlin regime. Thus, in any instance where there was a need for speedy decision-making, or a robust defense of one of NATO’s eastern members, this would not be forthcoming. As noted previously, even when Corbyn and his advisors have criticized Russian actions, this always comes with a caveat, the presentation of a context that explains what happened. No such subtlety is used when critiquing Western actions or responses.

Sec 14.3 SECURITY.

As noted in the section on Russia, there would be serious security implications to dealing with a Corbyn-led government In response to the poisoning of the Skripals, his initial demand was to share the intelligence reports with the Russians, as they had the right, in his view, to verify the claims. This is troubling on two levels. First, again, there is the automatic distrust of the West and the willingness to find a legitimate explanation for Russian actions. Second, such material, even if redacted, would have allowed the Russians to work out both the sources and the analytic methods used to gather the material.

In the circumstances, he could do nothing but demand this transfer of material. At worst, he (or his advisors) could have passed on the summary material they were given. As prime minister, he would have far more freedom in this regard. The U.S. intelligence agencies would have to operate on the basis that any material provided to a Corbyn government could be passed to the Russians (or Iranians). This is a radical departure from the practice that has been maintained for the last sixty years, regardless of the notional political differences between the UK and U.S. administrations.


A final major shift will be in the UK’s actions toward Israel. In the main the British, reflecting wider EU foreign policy, have been less pro-Israeli than is the norm in U.S. politics. The extent of this divergence has varied over different UK administrations, but acceptance of Israel’s right to exist, even if linked to strong reservations about its actual policies, has not even been a matter of debate.

As noted, Corbyn will not just alter this policy bias, but there are deeper concerns. To many around him, Israel is the key imperialist state, and anti-Semitism has become common among his supporters. In domestic political terms, there is now substantial evidence of just how widespread this has become with concerns about growing antisemitism widespread in the UK’s Jewish community. In international terms, it means that any revision of UK policy toward the Middle East will not just be a reversion to a more skeptical position about Israeli policies, but a change to fundamental opposition to the state of Israel.

When this is linked to a shift in support from Saudi Arabia to Iran, the result for the U.S. will be a traditional ally whose foreign policy now fundamentally diverges.

[LK= As noted above Israel and hard line Zionists have the opportunity to respond to less support by being more realisitic and less trimphalist. Although Corbyn’s divisive politics will make this harder as the auhtor describes.]

Sec 15. SUMMARY.

The basic framework of Corbyn’s model of international relations is fairly clear. States and/or movements that contest the power of “imperialism” are worthy of support. Thus, a movement such as Hamas is not to be criticized or treated as a terrorist organization, as it is also “an organization that is dedicated toward the good of the Palestinian people and bringing about long-term peace and social justice and political justice in the whole region,” as Corbyn said in 2009. [113] His policy choice is to support Hamas, not Fatah, as in Northern Ireland he identifies with Sinn Féin but not the SDLP.

This model of international relations, in the form of StWC, opposed not only the U.S.-UK intervention in Iraq, but also a range of international actions before and since. The underlying framework is that such intervention is a priori bad, and there is no distinction drawn between disastrous interventions such as Iraq and those that did stop something far worse from happening, such as Kosovo or Sierra Leone. [114] Such a model allows no nuance: The actions and institutions of the “West” are wrong, but no such outright barrier is offered to aggression by the Putin regime: Its actions in Crimea or Ukraine need to be carefully studied and caveats offered to avoid outright condemnation so, as with the old CPGB’s response to Soviet actions, there is some criticism, but also a pedantic use of context to justify the actions. If this fails to be sufficient, then the old claim that the ‘West’ was worse can be used.

More worryingly, this mindset fails to make a distinction between a favored state and its inhabitants. If people under a regime deemed to be anti-imperialist revolt, they are quickly dismissed as pawns of imperialists (or, as discussed above, as terrorists) and readily demonized. [115] Equally, Corbyn’s criticism about the intervention in Libya is not that it was mishandled, and that the post-conflict situation predictably slipped out of control, but that it was, in his words, “regime change”—and this is the core of the complaint. [116] If a regime can in some way be considered progressive or antiimperialist, [117] then it should be supported, regardless of what it does to its own people.

As discussed above, this is a consistent theme. Milošević’s Serbia was deemed a socialist state struggling to hold together the popularly supported concept of Yugoslavia. Thus, first the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and later the conflict in Kosovo were framed as foreign-inspired revolts against a just state. More recently, the Syrian opposition to the Assad regime is dismissed and their suffering ignored, since the regime is seen as anti-imperialist. The same pattern is developing in Corbyn’s response to the civil unrest in Venezuela.

Thus, Corbyn relies on his specific opposition to the Iraq War and his long support for some anti-imperialist movements to claim his approach to international relations is far more decent than that inspired by the traditional models. In practice, it results at best in a different set of acceptable and unacceptable regimes, and in little or no sympathy for those unlucky enough to be the victims of a regime viewed as acceptable. As noted above, none of the leftist strands that inform Corbyn’s model of foreign policy had a concept of universal human rights —and this shows in their practical application.

Working from these findings, we can start to make some judgments as to the likely foreign policy preferences of a Corbyn-led government.

However, first it is useful to acknowledge that many who support him have expectations that this will be a focus on human rights, climate change, and international cooperation over the refugee crisis. As with elements of his domestic policy (where an end to economic austerity is widely supported), many will vote for a Labour government in the hope that it will rebalance the UK’s foreign policy away from too close links to U.S. interests —a dogmatic position that can be as misleading as the automatic anti-Americanism of much of the far left —reduce UK support for regimes such as Saudi Arabia, and challenge Israel’s policies in the Middle East.

The reality is they will largely be disappointed. If we take just one issue, yes, a Corbyn-led government will be more willing to challenge Saudi Arabia over its domestic and international human rights abuses, but this will come at the cost of a closer relationship with Iran. Whether Iran or Saudi Arabia is actually worse is a moot point, but the UK will not challenge both —instead, it will simply switch partners. In Latin America, again, it is debatable whether the Maduro regime is worse than some of the right-wing authoritarian states that the U.S. and its allies have propped up over the years. This really doesn’t matter; it is failing its own people. Under Corbyn, the UK will take a position where the injustices inflicted by Maduro on the Venezuelan people will not be its concern. This is realpolitik, admittedly with a different list of favored states than at the moment, but it is every bit as uninterested in the abuses committed by British allies as the current UK government. The British people will no doubt be assured of the benefits of quiet diplomacy in influencing Iranian policy, in the same way that such tactics are currently held to affect the behavior of Saudi Arabia.

In addition, Corbyn’s distaste for established international bodies does not bode well for the UK’s ability to cooperate on key international issues. That many of these bodies need reform and reflect vested interests is true, but they exist and can be used. Equally, they often reflect the dominant norms of their constituent parts. Many leftwing supporters of Brexit point to how the EU handled Greece by imposing economic reforms and massive cuts in social spending as a reason to leave the EU. This does reflect the economic orthodoxy of the current EU. However, electorally the EU (both as a parliament and in terms of its member states’ politics) is currently dominated by the center-right. In the past, the center-left has dominated, leading to very different policies, but a Corbyn-led UK government will do little or nothing to restore that situation.

Corbyn’s attitude toward the EU reflects his views on both international politics and economics. In terms of international politics, he sees the EU as just another tool by which imperialism can enforce its desires. In terms of economics, it is the antithesis of the protectionist, managed trade model that was the core of Bennite economics in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Thus, his strong preference for the UK to leave the EU is not just a feeling that the 2016 referendum should be respected —it happens to fit both his political and economic models of international relations. He has no interest in retaining EU membership, regardless of all the warnings about the economic consequences.

So the UK’s foreign policy under Corbyn will be different: more suspicious of international coordination, more suspicious of established international structures, and with a new list of regimes that the UK will seek as likely allies. And it will be much the same. The UK will have as little interest in the human rights abuses of Russia or Iran as it currently has in those committed by Saudi Arabia. This will be framed as progressive but, in reality, it is a turn toward insularity —at a time when the world needs global solutions.

At this stage, it is not clear how much this rhetoric will influence practical actions. Corbyn’s views are a minority in the parliamentary Labour Party and, given the fragmented nature of British politics, it is most likely he will be in charge of a government lacking an overall majority or will be in a formal coalition with smaller parties. In either case, his partners are unlikely to support some of his policies, not least because the other non-conservative parties in the UK tend to be pro-EU and mostly supportive of the current international order. Lacking a majority of his own MPs and dependent on the votes of parties such as the Liberal Democrats or the Scottish and Welsh nationalists, Corbyn may find his scope to reshape British foreign policy limited. However, while there may be barriers to what he can do in practice, his stated views and opinions will suddenly carry far more weight outside the UK than they do at the moment.


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[50] United Nations 1999. Rambouillet Accords: Interim Agreement for Peace and Self-Government in Kosovo. New York: United Nations.

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[58] Glenny, M. 1996. The Fall of Yugoslavia, London, Penguin.

[59] Ibrahim, A. 2017. Radical Origins: Why We Are Losing the Battle Against Islamic Extremism?, New York, Pegasus Books.

[60] Simms, B. 2001. Unfinest Hour: Britain and the Destruction of Bosnia, London, Penguin.

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[65] Corbyn, J. 2013. Interview: Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria [Online]. Russia Today. Available:  [Accessed 7 May 2019].

[66] Milne, S. 2013. An attack on Syria will only spread the war and killing [Online]. The Guardian. Available: [Accessed 20 April 2019].

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[68] Ibrahim, A. 2014. The Resurgence of Al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq. SSI. U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute.

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[74] Hubbard, B. & Sheikh, M. E. 2015. WikiLeaks Shows a Saudi Obsession With Iran [Online]. New York: New York Times. Available: [Accessed 10 February 2016], Reinmann, J. 2016. Saudi Arabia vs. Iran: Predominance in the Middle East. Washington: Foreign Policy Journal.

[75] Fisk, R. 2005. The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East, London, Fourth Estate.

[76] Corbyn, J. 2014. Rebuilding relations with Iran [Online]. London: Morning Star. Available:    [Accessed 21 May 2019].

[77] Hamad, S. 2016. Jeremy Corbyn’s silence over Aleppo shows how he has become a lobbyist for Iran [Online]. IBTimes. Available: [Accessed 22 May 2019].

[78] Amnesty International 2014. Absolute Impunity: Militia Rule in Iraq. London: Amnesty International.

[79] Hamad, S. 2016. Jeremy Corbyn’s silence over Aleppo shows how he has become a lobbyist for Iran [Online]. IBTimes. Available: [Accessed 22 May 2019].

[80] BBC. 1997. Cook Sets Out Foreign Policy Vision [Online]. London: BBC News. Available: [Accessed 22 May 2019].

[81] UK Parliament. 2000. Human Rights Situation in Chechnya [Online]. House of Commons. Available: [Accessed 2 May 2019].

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[83] Milne, S. 2014c. It’s not Russia that’s pushed Ukraine to the brink of war [Online]. London: The Guardian. Available: [Accessed 20 June 2019].

[84] Milne, S. 2014a. The clash in Crimea is the fruit of western expansion [Online]. The Guardian. Available: [Accessed 20 April 2019].

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[86] Milne, S. 2015a. The demonisation of Russia risks paving the way for war [Online]. The Guardian. Available: [Accessed 22 April 2019].

[87] Milne, S. 2014b. In Ukraine, fascists, oligarchs and western expansion are at the heart of the crisis [Online]. The Guardian. Available: [Accessed 20 April 2019].

[88] Raby, D. L. 2006. Democracy and Revolution: Latin America and Socialism Today, London, Pluto Press.

[89] Penfold-Becerra, M. 2006. Social Funds, Clientelism and Redistribution: Chavez’s “Misones” Programs in Comparative Perspective. World Bank Conference on Inequality, 2006.

[90] Raby, D. L. 2006. Democracy and Revolution: Latin America and Socialism Today, London, Pluto Press.

[91] UNICEF 2005. Progress for Children. UNICEF. 2010. “At a Glance: Venezuela.” UNICEF. [Accessed 14 August 2010] [ LK= UNICEF site being updated. Alternative link: ].

[92] Weisbrot, M. 2008. Poverty Reduction in Venezuela: A Reality Based View. ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin America, 11-8. VIII, no. 1 (Fall 2008): 1–8.

[93] Rodrik, D. 2006. Goodbye Washington Consensus, Hello Washington Confusion? A Review of the World Bank’s “Economic Growth in the 1990s: Learning from a Decade of Reform. Journal of Economic Literature, 44:4, 973-987, Saad-Filho, A. 2007. Life beyond the Washington Consensus: An Introduction to Pro-poor Macroeconomic Policies. Review of Political Economy, 19:4, 513537, Williamson, J. 2005. The Washington consensus as policy prescription for development. In: Besley, T. & Zagha, R. (eds.) Development challenges in the 1990s: leading policymakers speak from expertise. World Bank Publications.

[94] UNHCR. 2019b. Venezuela Situation [Online]. Geneva: UNHCR. Available: [Accessed 5 June 2019].

[95] Houeix, R. 2019. Maduro’s long standoff against Venezuela’s parliament [Online]. Paris: France 24. Available: [Accessed 11 June 2019].

[96] BBC. 2019. Venezuela’s Maduro proposes early National Assembly vote [Online]. London: BBC News. Available: https://www. [Accessed 11 June 2019].

[97] Press Association. 2019. Chakrabarti defends Jeremy Corbyn’s Venezuela remarks [Online]. London: The Guardian. Available: [Accessed 5 June 2019].

[98] Stephens, P. 2019. Ideology blinds Jeremy Corbyn to Venezuela’s plight [Online]. London: Financial Times. Available: [Accessed 5 June 2019].

[99] Worrall, P. 2017. FactCheck: Corbyn on Northern Ireland [Online]. London: Channel 4 News. Available: [Accessed 20 May 2019].

[100] Ibid.

[101] McCormack, J. 2019. European elections: Sinn Féin says vote chance to reject Brexit [Online]. London: BBC. Available: [Accessed 24 May 2019].

[102] Eaton, G. 2018b. The meaning of Corbynism [Online]. New Statesmen. Available: [Accessed 4 May 2019].

[103] Pack, M. 18 June 2018. Jeremy Corbyn’s views on Brexit: a long held stance on Europe. Available from: [Accessed 24 May 2019].

[104] Kempsell, R. 2019. Jeremy Corbyn called for European Union to be ‘defeated’ in explosive rally speech [Online]. Available: [Accessed 29 May 2019].

[105] Cuthbertson, K. 1979. Macroeconomic Policy: The New Cambridge, Keynesian and Monetarist Controversies, London, MacMillan.

[106] Hutton, W. 1996. The State We’re In, London, Vintage.

[107] Sassoon, D. 1997. One Hundred Years of Socialism: The West European Left in the Twentieth Century, London, Fontana.

[108] Aaronovitch, S. 1981. The Road from Thatcherism – The Alternative Economic Strategy, London, Lawrence & Wishart.

[109] Shipman, T. 2016. All Out War: The Full Story of Brexit, London, William Collins.

[110] Williams, P. & Harris, J. 2001. State Succession to Debts and Assets: The Modern Law and Policy. Harvard International Law Journal, 42:2, 255-417.

[111] Pop, V. 2009. EU expanding its ‘sphere of influence,’ Russia says [Online]. Brussels: EU Observer. Available: [Accessed 11 June 2019].

[112] Kirchick, J. 2017. Russia’s plot against the West [Online]. Politico. Available:  [Accessed 11 June 2019].

[113] Stop the War Coalition. 2009. Meet the Resistance – Jeremy Corbyn MP [Online]. YouTube. Available:  [Accessed 30 April 2019].

[114] Cockburn, P. 2013. Special report: We all thought Libya had moved on – it has, but into lawlessness and ruin [Online]. London: The Independent. Available: [Accessed 1 May 2018].

[115] Bolton, M. & Pitts, F. H. 2018. Corbynism: A Critical Approach, Bingley, Emerald Publishing.

[116] Corbyn, J. 2017. Jeremy Corbyn speech at Chatham House. Labour Party.

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Published By: Hudson Institute 1201 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Fourth Floor, Washington, D.C. 20004 202.974.2400

How the left enabled fascism.

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How the left enabled fascism.

[Posted by Lara Keller 15/10/18 Updated 20/3/19]  anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents

[Original Source =]

By David Winner, UK New Statesman Magazine, 3 October 2018.

[Start Article]

Ernst Thälmann, leader of Germany’s radical left in the last years of the Weimar Republic, thought the centre left was a greater danger than the right. We should remember his miscalculation.

The leader of the left, adored for his “authenticity” and destined for cult status, saw himself as a fighter for radical change. His transformed party was the biggest of its kind in Europe, and bursting with youthful vigour.

On the other side of the political spectrum lay the far right and its sinisterly absurd demagogues, thugs and ideological lunacies. Naturally, the leader of the left regarded these people with contempt and viewed his party as the only authentic resistance to them. For strategic reasons, however, he was willing to help them achieve a key part of their dream, which he shared. The dream was to break the loathsome old liberal order. Such a break, reasoned the leader, would create conditions under which the left would sweep to power and transform the country for the better.

Any similarities to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party are far from coincidental. But the leader in question is Ernst Thälmann, chief of the German Communist Party (KPD) in the final years of the Weimar Republic. Thälmann is a tragic and disastrous figure. Dogmatic, passionate, stubborn and stupid, the former Hamburg dockworker divided the left and became one of the right’s first victims. Within weeks of Hitler’s takeover in 1933, he, along with thousands of other communists, was arrested and tortured. Unlike many of them, he survived in prison for 11 years before being murdered on Hitler’s orders in 1944.

After the war, the leaders of Communist East Germany built a personality cult around Thälmann, erecting statues and naming streets, a Berlin park and a metro station after him. The cult depicted him as the bravest and noblest of working-class heroes, Germany’s supreme anti-fascist martyr. That he had also been one of the Nazi regime’s unwitting enablers was erased.

History never repeats itself exactly, and there are obvious and big differences between conditions and politics in Britain now and those of Germany in the run-up to the Nazi dictatorship. But there are a few uncomfortable parallels.

For one thing, even our relatively mild versions of far left and far right seek momentous change – in this case a destructive Brexit – for ideological reasons. For another, the far left’s current mindset is reminiscent of one that had unintended consequences – and is doing so again.

In the 1930s, fear of Bolshevism persuaded many middle-class Germans to support Hitler (and led the Catholic Church to throw in its lot with fascism in Italy, Spain and elsewhere). These days, fear of Corbyn buttresses the worst Tory government in living memory. Worse, although we again face danger from the far right, the far left refuses to work with potential allies in the centre and centre left. Again. Instead, it spends much of its energy attacking them. The obsessive hatred for “Blairites”, “red Tories” and “centrists” is reminiscent of the KPD’s hatred of “social fascists” during the years when Nazism could have been stopped. If the phrase is new to you, you’d be forgiven for thinking it signified some form of fascism. It didn’t. “Social fascism” was the communist term for social democrats – and it helped pave the way to catastrophe.

In the words of Theodore Draper, the American former communist fellow traveller who turned against the party and became a historian, “the so-called theory of social fascism and the practice based on it constituted one of the chief factors contributing to the victory of German fascism in January 1933”.

The theory, developed in the early 1920s, favoured by Stalin and established as Communist orthodoxy by 1928, held that reformist social democracy was the worst enemy of the proletariat – worse than fascism – because it created false consciousness and made revolution, the party’s overriding goal, less likely. This notion derived from the left’s misunderstanding of the dark forces about to overwhelm it.

Thälmann and the KPD regarded fascists and Nazis as products and tools of capitalism. Since social democrats were also capitalists, it followed that social democracy, fascism and Nazism were simply different facets of the same oppression. To further the dream of a Soviet Germany, the party was willing to help the Nazis destroy democracy, thinking it could beat the Nazis easily in the aftermath.

Unlike the modern Labour left, the KPD’s antipathy to their centre-left rivals derived in part from memories of a recent crime against them. In January 1919, after Germany’s defeat in the First World War and the fall of the Kaiser, the new Social Democratic Party (SPD) government led by Friedrich Ebert used the far-right Freikorps militias to help suppress the Spartacist uprising, led by KPD founders Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. In the process, Freikorps men tortured and murdered Luxemburg and Liebknecht.

In the first part of his Hitler biography, Hitler, 1889-1936: Hubris, Ian Kershaw describes these killings as “the symbolic sealing of the rift within the working-class movement that throughout the Weimar Republic prevented any united front being formed against the growing threat of National Socialism”. By the late 1920s, though, the KPD had largely purged itself of Spartacists and become a Stalinist party. Thälmann took his instructions from Stalin and his hatred of the SPD was essentially ideological.

With hindsight, his relaxed attitude to the threat of Hitler seems astonishingly foolish. For example, as Russel Lemmons shows in his 2013 book about Thälmann, Hitler’s Rival, when the Nazis made their electoral breakthrough in the Reichstag elections of 1930 (winning 18 per cent of the vote to become the second-largest party) Thälmann insisted that if Hitler came to power he was sure to fail and this would drive Nazi voters into the arms of the KPD.

Foreshadowing the 2017 claim that Labour actually won the general election it lost, the KPD newspaper the Red Flag even hailed the KPD’s defeat in that election (up by 2.5 per cent to 13.1 per cent) as a victory on the grounds that communist voters were ardent revolutionaries (“one communist vote has more weight than ten to 20 national socialist votes combined”). The 1930 election left the Social Democrats and KPD with almost 40 per cent of the seats in the Reichstag between them. In November 1931 the SPD suggested the two parties work together but Thälmann rejected the offer and the Red Flag called for an “intensification of the fight against Social Democracy”.

Along the way Thälmann made any number of tactical blunders. In 1925, for example, against the advice of Bolshevik leader Grigory Zinoviev, the KPD leadership refused to stand Thälmann down in the second round of the German presidential election. This split took enough votes away from centre candidate Wilhelm Marx to give the First World War general Paul von Hindenburg a narrow victory. In 1933, Hindenburg appointed Hitler as chancellor, then signed the decrees enabling the Nazi terror against the left after the Reichstag fire.

As the Nazi menace intensified in the early 1930s, Thälmann continued to be sanguine. As late as February 1932, he was arguing that “Hitler must come to power first, then the requirements for a revolutionary crisis [will] arrive more quickly”. In November 1932, just three months before Hitler’s takeover, the KPD and Nazis even worked together in the Berlin transport workers’ strike.


Is it fair to speak of this in the same breath as Corbyn’s de facto alliance with the right on Brexit? The stakes are less high, and the specifics are so different it’s hard to compare.

Corbyn’s lack of enthusiastic campaigning may have hampered Remain in the referendum. He has made a damaging Brexit more likely by failing to oppose it, and by whipping his MPs to abstain or vote with the government at key moments since 2016. But this isn’t the same as seeking a Soviet Britain, or enabling Hitler. Corbyn isn’t trying to end democracy, or co-operating with Nazis, or taking orders from Stalin. He hasn’t even created a party paramilitary wing.

The Labour left’s assault on the liberal centre is driven by a quite different political agenda to that of the KPD. But it runs a similar risk of hollowing out the political constituency best capable of resisting the radicalism of the right.

History teaches us that it is dangerous and naive to expect only the radical left to benefit politically from the kind of economic chaos and social upheaval a hard or no-deal Brexit would bring.

Thälmann was at least open about his objectives. Corbyn rarely explains his strategy, and even talks blithely about a “jobs-first Brexit” while backing a course liable to wreck the regions, damage the NHS and blight the future of the young.

Thälmann’s approach was also contradictory and ambivalent. On one hand, his Communist militias fought bloody and often lethal turf battles with Nazi stormtroopers and police. On the other, he refused to provide effective political opposition to the Nazis. There were some half-hearted attempts to work with SPD rank and file, but Thälmann never stopped regarding the SPD leadership as anathema and refused to co-operate with them in any significant way until it was far too late.

Only in February 1933, by which time the battle was already lost, did Thälmann finally grasp the situation and propose a united front with the SPD and the free and Christian trade unions – under his own leadership, of course – to prepare for a general strike to bring down the new regime.

When the Nazis started rounding up leftists, Thälmann escaped but his hiding place on the Kaiserallee (now Bundesallee) in Berlin was revealed by a tortured comrade and Thälmann was arrested on 3 March and taken to prison. In 1939, Stalin could easily have had Thälmann released as a condition of the Nazi-Soviet Pact, but he didn’t say a word. In August 1944 Hitler ordered Thälmann “liquidated”. SS officers drove him to Buchenwald, shot him in the courtyard of the camp crematorium and burned his body immediately.

Lemmons argues that Thälmann “went to his grave believing that the SPD represented the forces of ‘social fascism’ and was no better than Hitler’s party”. That, and his subservience to Stalin, meant Thälmann “failed his people in its greatest hour of need”. The KPD did “nothing to stop the Nazi seizure of power – indeed they had welcomed it as what they considered to be the dying breath of German imperialism”.

Even if the worst Brexit predictions come true Jeremy Corbyn is unlikely to suffer so terrible a fate. But if a disastrous Brexit does occur, the verdict of history is unlikely to be much kinder.

[End Article]

Jeremy Corbyn [id=40-j13]. Assad Apologists.

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Jeremy Corbyn [id=40-j13]. Assad Apologists.

[Posted by Lara Keller 26/9/18 Updated 16/4/19] anchorTableSmall - Copy Blog Table Of Contents

[Expanded from web page by Kester Ratcliff, Original Source =]

[Article on range of Assadist opinion see here.]

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“Jeremy Corbyn is being openly disowned by his own MPs amid accusations that he has sided with President Assad and Vladimir Putin over military intervention in Syria.” [UK Daily Telegraph,16/4/18] ….

“On Sunday the Labour leader called for a ‘war powers act’ which would seek to ensure that all planned use of force would have to be signed off by the Commons, to hold all future governments ‘for what they do in our name’. He has described airstrikes on Syria as ‘legally questionable’ and refused both to directly blame Assad for the chemical weapon attack in Douma and Russia for the suspected nerve-agent attack in Salisbury.”

The article included some tweets from UK Labour MPs critical of Corbyn’s stance on this topic [LK: Note: Daily Telegraph is a conservative newspaper, whose journalism is accurate but often selective on focus]:

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The UK left-wing newspaper “The Guardian” also covered this story: Corbyn calls for ‘war powers act’ as check on military intervention. UK Guardian Newspaper [15/4/18].

“Asked whether he [Corbyn] would back military action if the OPCW found the Assad regime was responsible for the Douma chemical weapons attack, he said: ‘I would then say, confront Assad with that evidence; confront any other group that may be fingered because of that – and then say they must come in and destroy those weapons, as they did in 2013 and 2015.’ The Labour leader’s critics have questioned the plausibility of achieving a diplomatic solution, particularly one backed by the UN security council, in which Russia has repeatedly used its veto in defence of the Syrian regime. But he called on the UK government to ‘work might and main to bring Russia and the US together on this so that we do get a political process in Syria, as well as the removal of chemical weapons’. He added: ‘it can be done. It’s hard work and it takes patience – but surely that is better than the escalation of this conflict.’ “

Jeremy Corbyn perpetually equivocal attitude may be partly explained by his choice to be briefed about Syria by the Assad regime propagandist the nun Mother Agnes Mariam in November 2013. An event organized by the extremist  Declan Hayes, with the help he claims of the the “British conservative Party”. Hayes associates himself with Katehon, the Dugin’s Neo-Eurasianist fascist website. Mother Agnes was on a world propaganda tour following the Ghouta Chemical Attack in August 2013 – where the Assad Regime outraged the world by murdering 14,000 Syrian civilians with Sarin gas – she used her apparent vocation to give credence to disinformation about this attack —

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The right-wing UK tabloid Sunday Express newspaper, covered this episode in January 2018, only 5 years later. ‘Dangerous’ Assad apologist claims he briefed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Syria.

Jackson Diehl, Why hasn’t Britain been able to stop Putin? Ask Jeremy Corbyn, Washington Post, March 18 2018. Includes comments on Corbyn’s attitude of obsessively doubting Putin’s use of “Novichok” in a careless assassination attempt by his regime in the UK.

Jeremy Corbyn is closely associated with “Stop the War Coalition UK” who are actually only interested in stopping any intervention that might constrain Putin and Assad’s ongoing genocidal war on Syrians. Corbyn was chairperson between 2011 and 2015, and is still an active member. His anti-war activities in support of fake far-left or fake anti-imperialist dictatorships goes back to the 1970s.—

According to left leaning journalist James Bloodworth in the conservative UK Spectator magazine (which also takes some pieces with left-wing perspective) in 2013 wrote:

“The Stop the War Coalition is  a curious organization. It isn’t so much opposed to war as has accrued a sorry reputation for supporting the other side in every conflict it has pretended to oppose.” [Mother Agnes has pulled out of the Stop the War conference. And yet she would have fitted in so well, Spectator,18/11/2013]

The STWC always actively opposes military intervention by the West which it always labels “Western imperialism” and either apologizes or makes token complaints against corresponding “Russian-Chinese” intervention-imperialism. Nato is a favorite target of STWC. That a supporter of such a conflicted nominally anti-war organization could become prime minister of the UK is worrying.

@GCINEWS Tweet on Putin sponsored mentor’s alliance with STWC: Note STWC’s Russian mentor Kagarlitsky in the middle carrying the anti-Nato banner. He’d also been actively promoting Scottish separatism since 2010, if not before. Doing so with a known close Corbyn/STWC associate.

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STWC defended Kagarlitsky in a statement: StWC Statement on Andrew Gilligan’s Sunday Times Article & Boris Kagarlitsky’s Response – 19/10/16. The “untruths, half-truths and obfuscations” of this stament were then corrected comprehensively by Simon Pirani in Stop calling warmongers “anti-war activists” Kagarlitsky (who runs IGSO and is a supporter of Russian military action in Ukraine, he has been associated since 2014 with Russian fascists (ie Dugin), he has been given grants since 2004 by Putin regime to research left-wing groups and produce propaganda.

@JBickertonUK Tweet on Russian & Assad Flags at STWC 2018 demo. Both Syrian regime and Russian flags at the Stop The War Protest outside Downing Street. Can’t say I’m surprised.

[Note: LK: Assad Regime flags and symbols have repeatedly appeared at STWC demonstrations since 2011. Have not observed as many Russian flags.]

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The Stop the War Coalition is more interested in fighting the West than fighting for Syrians. by Peter Tatchell, UK Independent Newspaper, 10/12/2016.

“Stop the War Coalition’s annual conference in October [2016] was heckled by protesters who condemned the organisation – and its keynote speaker, Jeremy Corbyn – for not mobilising against the indiscriminate bombing of Aleppo, and other war crimes, by Syria’s president Assad and his Russian allies. Just before the conference, an open letter to Corbyn, signed by Labour party and Momentum activists, criticised his failure to condemn these war crimes and to push for humanitarian aid to the besieged civilian populations.”

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During 2016 the attitude of Corbyn and the leadership of UK Labour Party became openly shameful. In February 2016, the UN issued a report describing the political genocide being committed by the Assad regime in Syria, UN report: Syrian government actions amount to ‘extermination’ [UK Guardian 8/2/2016]

“Detainees held by the Syrian government are dying on a massive scale amounting to a state policy of extermination of the civilian population, a crime against humanity, United Nations investigators has said”.

In September 2016 the Assad Regime with Russian airpower started a campaign to retake Eastern Aleppo. In a HRW report (Russia/Syria: War Crimes in Month of Bombing Aleppo,HRW,1/12/2018) the blitz in September and October 2016 was described: The Violations Documentation Center, a Syrian civil monitoring organization, documented that the bombing campaign killed more than 440 civilians, including more than 90 children. Airstrikes often appeared to be recklessly indiscriminate, deliberately targeted at least one medical facility, and included the use of indiscriminate weapons such as cluster munitions and incendiary weapons. Satellite imagery that Human Rights Watch analyzed shows more than 950 new distinct impact sites consistent with the detonation of large high explosive bombs across the area during the month.

By this time the siege of Eastern Aleppo had created an acute food shortage. On the 20th September 2016 Russian aircraft destroyed an authorized UN aid convoy attempting to provide desperately needed resources. While these crimes were being committed in Syria, the superpower supporters of the Assad Regime, Russia and China were continuing to use their veto in the UN Security Council to prevent legally sanctioned international action.

On the 11th October 2016 the UK Foreign Minster Boris Johnson criticized STWC for not protesting outside the Russian embassy in London, probably motivated by the political opportunism of Jeremy Corbyn being a leading member. The response of the Labour Party Spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn was widely reported: Syria: US as much a target for protests as Russia – Labour, BBC [12/10/2016]

“He told journalists that a number of foreign powers, including the UK, were involved in the brutal conflict and Russia should not be singled out. While condemning Russian ‘atrocities’, he said civilians had also been killed by the US-led coalition’s bombings……’There are multiple foreign interventions in the Syrian civil war and we’ve emphasised that there needs to be an end to that and those powers need to be part of a negotiated settlement, which is the only way to stop the conflict.’ ……Asked whether he was suggesting a moral equivalence between US and UK actions against so-called Islamic State and Moscow’s support for the Assad regime, the spokesman said he was not “in the business of allocating blame”…..But he added: “The focus on Russian atrocities or Syrian army atrocities – which is absolutely correct – sometimes diverts attention from other atrocities that are taking place……’The intervention of foreign powers in the conflict has no doubt escalated and fueled it throughout,’ he added.”

This sloppy statement denied the reality that more than 90% of the causalities in Syria since 2011 have been caused by the Assad Regime and its allies, particularly Putin’s regime who has supplied a weapons conveyor to the Assad Regime from the start, as well as bombing opposition areas directly from 2015. Endless peace talks had been going nowhere, while Russia and China used their veto on the UN Security Council to block any enforced international solution. In October 2016 this denial from Corbyn’s spokesman was a clear statement of a strong bias towards Putin’s Regime, and was condemned by some Labour MPs.

This is part of a long preference for the authoritarianism of the Soviet Union and other related dictatorships by Corbyn, which helps to explain his inability to objectively criticize the Putin or Assad Regimes: @TimesCorbyn: This thread will examine chronologically (nearly all) Mr Corbyn’s mentions of: Russia/Soviet Union/USSR in Hansard (1984-1998):

Many comments made by Jeremy Corbyn in the House of Commons when he was just a far-left fringe Labour MP show that he never believed in the military threat posed by the Soviet Union, from the rule of Stalin onwards, here is an example:

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LK: It is understandable to oppose the “Cold War” as a disastrous response to the threat of communist totalitarianism. The West’s approach was ineffective (led to a new Cold War), costly, inhumane, authoritarian (often encouraged viciously brutal right-wing dictatorships) and hypocritical (used as cover to impose obsessive globalized liberalism). However Corbyn like many of the far-left takes the extreme position that the Soviet Union never posed a threat. A stance that he repeated at length in 2011 in a seven page introduction to a reissue J.Hobson’s (1902) “Imperialism: A Study”. Corbyn uses half of the introduction to chronicle imperialism after Hosbson’s time.

According to Corbyn’s hyperbolic rhetoric just after the Second World War the US reoccupied Europe under the “guise of Nato”, and then set out to control the minds of the captured populations (he wrote this in 2011):

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Corbyn then continues with a claim that Soviet influence was benignly different. He ignores the reality of the experience of people living in Soviet satellites in Central Europe, Central Asia and Afghanistan. He ignores Soviet propaganda, that privately outsourced foreign policy to its satellites while denying this in public, and so sought to protect its reputation and avoid direct confrontation with the West. The Soviet Union’s policy was to make Cuba totally economically dependent, and a showcase for the benefits of Soviet style authoritarianism. Cuba was very influential in spreading communism, not always successfully, to Latin America and Africa. The propaganda of Cuban so called “independence” included Castro rigging farcical show trials in 1968 for surplus comrades accused of being “microfaction” Soviet agents. Corbyn just repeats the far-left party line below:

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Even the mainstream UK Labour Party supporting UK tabloid Newspaper the “Mirror” is baffled by Corbyn’s bias towards Russia. Why does Jeremy Corbyn love Russia so much? It’s not very nice. The Labour leader thinks he’s defending the ideals of the Soviet Union, UK Mirror, 16/3/2018.

“Now, I’m not calling the man [Jeremy Corbyn] a Communist, because he’s clearly a democrat [LK: ?]. I’m not calling him a spy, a double agent, or a traitor because he’s none of those things. He just appears to be someone for whom every day since March 1968 does not seem to have actually happened.”

“Because in August 1968 the USSR sent 250,000 troops to invade and occupy Czechoslovakia because there was widespread public support for ending censorship and liberal reforms; a softening, not an overthrow, of Communism. Around 500 people were injured and 137 killed. That would be enough, you would think, for a reasonable person – Lefty, Righty or otherwise – to dislike the aggressor.”

“It wasn’t enough to convince Corbyn. At the time the USA was busy in Vietnam so there was little international condemnation. And in 1979 the USSR invaded Afghanistan for precisely the same reasons. That time, 2m people were killed in a 9-year war which led to the radicalisation and extensive military training of not only Osama Bin Laden, but all his principal lieutenants, Hook-Handed Abu Hamza and thousands of others who went on to become the Taliban, which is not only still active in Afghanistan but guilty of trafficking, heroin production, massacres and murders of aid workers.”

“Yet on July 6, 2011, Corbyn told the House of Commons: ‘There is a huge memorial movement within Russia today on behalf of those [Soviet soldiers] who are still not recognised for the sacrifices they made.’ He’s criticised the Taliban, but blamed it on the USA when the truth is it’s an organisation born of two superpowers, not one………………………..”

“He has said that he is no supporter of Putin or Russian foreign policy, but he attacks all those who attack Russia. He argued against NATO, the EU, Barack Obama’s foreign policy. He has made the same arguments as Russia when it comes to the attack in Salisbury, and is, like Russia, claiming to be victim of a smear campaign by his enemies. ………………..”

“I can understand why Corbyn loved the Soviet Union. I can stretch that into understanding why he is reluctant or unwilling to recognise its failures, and even his wilful blindness of just what sort of a monster the modern Russia has become under the control of a clever, vengeful, killer.”

“But that multi-billionaire has seized assets and wealth from others. He degrades and denigrates those who have been historically oppressed, his business dealings are so opaque they cannot be properly assessed or taxed, he presides over a state where police brutality is witnessed by 1 in 4 people, he has cracked down on freedom of expression and assembly, he’s helped Syria’s Bashar al-Assad bomb his own people to smithereens, he’s influenced democratic votes and is thought to be in a position to blackmail the current president of the USA.”

“All that remains of the Russia that Corbyn loves is a distrust of organisations of those allied against it. And while once they were anti-Russia for ideological reasons, they are anti-Russia today because that state is run by criminals, thieves, killers, oppressors, anti-democrats and the sort of people who see no reason not to wave chemical weapons around on either a battlefield, hotel, football stadium or civilian street.”

“Jeremy Corbyn is entirely right to demand evidence of all that. The problem is that there is PLENTY, and he can’t see it.”

Corbyn with a group of credulous liberals visiting Assad in 2009, whose regime is one of the fruits of Soviet-Putin foreign influence that Corbyn so admires:

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Jeremy Corbyn And The Left Have Been Shameless On Syria: Solidarity should be with Assad’s people and not the state institutions of Syria itself, Rabbil Sikdar, HuffPost Blog, 18/4/2018:

“As I’ve written before, the handling of Syria by Jeremy Corbyn has been disappointing. He signals to political solutions though Assad has adamantly rejected them where they involve him leaving power. Corbyn mentions UN resolutions as a means of stopping the conflict but the Russians have vetoed everything. He calls for investigations into source of chemical weapons but then ignores their findings where they have incriminated Assad. Rather than explicitly condemning Assad, he says he abhors violence on all sides, drawing some sort of equality in power between a police state and the rebels, and refuses to ever explicitly condemn Assad. It’s a legitimate accusation that his foreign policy is increasingly shaped by an appeasement of the Russian regime. Was Boris Johnson really wrong to call him a ‘useful idiot’ for the Kremlin?”

“There are some in Labour reclaiming humanitarian intervention as a defining principle of Labour and it runs all the way from Clement Attlee to Tony Blair. They have bravely offered their voices in a party swamped by those who prefer inaction to the point of closing their eyes at the genocide of the Syrian people.”

“It’s time to stop listening to the Stop the War Coalition and listen to actual Syrians , like the Syria Solidarity UK and refugees like Hassan Akkad who have been calling for action of some kind against Assad for years now.”


What is Corbynism? The author of a new book explains why even some left-wingers have problems with it.

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[ A new book traces Jeremy Corbyn’s ideology from its roots. Clockwise from top left: Tony Benn, Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, a Stop the War protest against bombing in Syria and a steel factory in operation (Photo: Getty) ]

[ Source= By: Karl McDonald 27/9/18 ]

[Posted by Lara Keller 28/9/18]

What is Corbynism? The author of a new book explains why even some left-wingers have problems with it.

The ‘critical’ book traces the ideology that informs the Labour leader’s policies.

Everyone knows who Jeremy Corbyn is, and most of have an idea of “Corbynistas” too – but relatively little thought has been put into what Corbynism really means as a political ideology.

It’s forgivable for the casual follower of the news to be confused. In the right-wing press, we hear about Jeremy Corbyn the Soviet bloc spy.

On the left, Corbynism tends to be romanticised. And in the centre, we’ve lived through the great punditry crisis of 2015-17, as the unelectable dinosaur did better than anyone could have imagined.

But little of what we read day today deals with what he actually believes and why. One effort to get to grips with this comes in the form of Corbynism: A Critical Approach, a book by Matt Bolton and Frederick Harry Pitts.

“The origins of the book lay in our frustrations with the way that Corbyn is critiqued or examined across the spectrum,” Bolton told “iNews” [Newspaper]. His book is heavy on theory – it’s certainly not afraid of discussing the “substantialist strand of value theory” for example – but it’s also filled with criticisms that we don’t often hear, coming from left-wing academics.

Here are some of the conclusions they’ve drawn:

1. Corbynism is not just one thing.

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[ Frederick Harry Pitts and Matt Bolton, authors of Corbynism: A Critical Approach. ]

“You’ve got the traditional left strand, which is kind of a mixture of Bennism and bit of Trotskyism,” he says. “There’s a kind of residual Stalinism there as well, represented by Corbyn himself, (shadow Chancellor) John McDonnell, (former Guardian writer and now strategist) Seumas Milne, (special adviser and former Communist Party member) Andrew Murray and (adviser) Andrew Fisher.”

Next, you’ve got the Momentum strand – still a little Bennite in its older members, but driven mostly by the energy of younger people radicalised after the 2008 crash.

“Then you’ve got the (Derby MP) Chris Williamson, Squawkbox,Canary thread, who I’m increasingly interested in,” says Bolton. “They’re really coming from a much more conspiratorial point of view.”

On top of that, there are postcapitalists, cultural theorists and more.

“All these different groups with different traditions have fed into Corbynism – and there are tensions between them,” says Bolton. “They come out from time to time with Brexit and with the anti-Semitism row over the summer – McDonnell was intent on shutting that down, but the more extreme elements were keen on pushing it. ”

Corbyn’s major achievement, he says, is that the Labour leader keeps things vague.

“When he talks about socialism, he says it’s just natural, it’s people being nice to one another. And because he doesn’t express himself in clear political terms, it allows other groups to project what they want on him.”

2. We wouldn’t have Corbynism – or as much of a left resurgence – without Corbyn himself.

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[Jeremy Corbyn on stage at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool (Photo: Getty)]

The vagueness goes some way towards explaining why Corbyn’s rise happened when it would have seemed impossible to an observer wondering whether Corbyn, McDonnell or Diane Abbott would emerge for a leftwing tilt at the leadership in 2015.

“Would Corbynism have been possible without Corbyn? The ideas were there, and we had the upsurge starting in 2008, but we’re doubtful that any other figure from the left would have been able to do it,” says Bolton.

“Would John McDonnell have done it? He’s too clear, almost, on his positions.”

“George Galloway? In a lot of ways he’s similar to Corbyn, they share a lot of positions and Galloway is close friends with Seumas Milne. But it seems implausible to me that he could have done it.”

3. Corbyn sees the world as good vs evil.

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[A Stop the War protest near Downing Street demands bombing of Syria stops (Photo: Getty)]

When Bolton and his co-author Frederick Harry Pitts use the term “Stalinism” in relation to Corbynism, they’re not talking about gulags. They’re referring to a particular world view that splits countries into two camps: the American “imperialist” camp on one side, and those who resist American dominance on the
other, led in Stalin’s time by the Soviet Union.

“If you look at Seamus Milne and Andrew Murray, both of whom were very influential in the Corbyn circle, they have an explicitly Stalinist background,” says Bolton.

“Andrew Murray was a member of the Communist Party until 2016. And the way that that feeds in to the Corbyn movement is mainly influencing foreign policy through a particular form of anti-imperialism which we call ‘two-campism’.”

He adds: “Any group that opposes the states that are seen as the embodiment of capitalism through the lens of imperialism, is seen as anti-capitalist.

“You can see this in particular with Syria. Because they view Assad as anti-American, they see any opposition to Assad as a proxy for the Americans. So these Syrians fighting basically for liberal democracy gets dismissed either as a jihadi thing or as stooges of American democracy.

“That world view has its roots in Leninism and Stalinism.”

4. He’s a Bennite – and Bennism is economic nationalism.

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[Jeremy Corbyn is keen to subsidise industry – including steel – in the UK (Photo: Getty)]

When it comes to policy at home, however, it’s not Soviet policy that the Labour leader reaches for.

Bolton and Pitts links Corbyn to Tony Benn’s Alternative Economic Strategy which emerged in the 1970s and early 1980s – the last time the left was a serious force within the party.

“On the one hand you have the notion of workers’ control of production, which you can see in the stuff they were talking about at conference with workers on boards,” Bolton says. “Lots of that is good stuff, we don’t disagree with everything.”

But the other side of Bennism is the idea that the British economy and industry were “under attack” from finance – and that Britain needed to build a “siege economy” to throw off the shackles of the bankers, Bolton says.

“We think that’s a form of economic nationalism – protecting British jobs and British industry from foreign intruders,” he says. “That’s dangerous. It’s politically ambivalent.”

5. It’s a short jump from ‘rigged economy’ to antisemitic tropes.

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[Fire and fury: former Trump adviser Steve Bannon (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)]

Bennism’s sense of attack from the financiers leads Corbyn to describe the economy as “rigged” – something that might be intuitive to a lot of left-wingers. But left-wingers aren’t the only people who use it, Bolton points out – Donald Trump, Bannon and even Michael Gove have adopted it too.

“The political ambivalence of the ‘rigged economy’ term alongside the economic nationalism is quite dangerous,” he says.

It’s this sort of thinking that leads Corbyn into his anti-Semitism rows.

“If you see capitalism as something that’s imposed on workers rather than something more general, it’s not inevitable that you end up with anti-semitism, but the potential is there.

“The combination of that and the good vs bad world view, you can end up repeating or stumbling into antisemitic tropes.”

6. He had his chance to oppose Brexit and missed it – probably on purpose.

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Jeremy Corbyn during the Remain campaign (Getty) ]

There’s a reason Jeremy Corbyn is “anti-EU by instinct”, as it’s presented in the media. In the Bennite tradition, the EU stops Britain building a “siege economy” and growing its industrial base without restriction, according to Bolton.

“They don’t want to be in the single market because they think it restricts their ability to provide state aid for national industry,” he adds – meaning he wants to be able to put public money into nationalised businesses in a way that might be illegal under EU rules.

Of course, Corbyn campaigned to Remain, and even if he did want to change his post-referendum position on Brexit, he had a chance to do it when Theresa May lost seats in the election. “They could have said you’ve had your chance, you’ve lost the election, let’s have a re-think. But they want Brexit, I think,” says Bolton.

7. The Corbynite intellectuals are losing control of their own fringes.

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Labour MP Chris Williamson is a leftist – but has been combative since leaving the shadow cabinet ]

Corbynism is open to many different left-wing ideas, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t clash.

One particularly difficult subgrouping is what Bolton calls the “conspiratorial wing” – or the “Chris Williamson- Labour Against The Witch Hunt-Canary strand”.

“You’re starting to see a split between them and the intellectual leadership,” he says. “They’re starting to turn against them.”

“You can see the tension between the radical-but-sensible thinkers at the core of the party and their zealous outriders on social media and elsewhere when the latter turn against the leader’s perceived enemies.”

“Jon Lansman has done more for Corbynism than almost anyone apart from John McDonnell, maybe,” says Bolton.

“But once he does one thing to contradict the leadership’s position, which is put himself forward as General Secretary against Jennie Formby, instantly the Chris Williamson wing started to turn against him.”

“Suddenly it become, oh he’s a Zionist, he’s power-mad, it’s a secret Israeli agenda.”


TWITTER SCANDAL: Moscow mules: the left’s long romance with Russia.

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(Above: Corbyn and his spin doctor Seumas Milne share a sceptical view of Nato)

TWITTER SCANDAL: Moscow mules: the left’s long romance with Russia.

[Posted by Lara Keller 10/5/18]

[Original Source =]

[Start Article]

By Tim Shipman, Political Editor, The Sunday Times, April 29 2018, 12:01am.

Jeremy Corbyn and his closest aide Seumas Milne have a long history of taking a more positive approach to Russia than have any other mainstream political figures.

The two share a passion for anti-colonial foreign policy stances, which has seen them explain away Russian aggression while denouncing the activities of the US, Israel and Britain.

Corbyn was a regular on RT, the Russian state-funded television channel, before he became leader. His shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, has since said Labour MPs should not appear on the propaganda station, but Corbyn has refused to issue such an order.

He has also repeatedly criticised Nato, branding it “the father of the Cold War” and suggesting it should have “shut up shop” in 1990.

After the Salisbury nerve agent attack in March, Corbyn received security briefings from the government but refused to say unequivocally that Russia was behind the attempted murders and called for “dialogue with Russia”.

In the Commons, he preferred to attack the Tory party for taking donations from Russians — a move many of his MPs saw as ill-judged. Russian state media reported his comments approvingly.

In a briefing for journalists, Milne, Corbyn’s communications director, repeatedly suggested alternatives to the government’s explanation that the Russian state was responsible, including that the nerve gas attack was ordered by another former Soviet state or mafia gang.

He questioned the reliability of information from Britain’s intelligence agencies and implied that Putin was being framed.

In October 2014, just a year before he became Corbyn’s spin doctor, Milne was pictured shaking hands with Vladimir Putin at a conference in Sochi, Russia, after his invasion of Ukraine. In March 2015, Milne wrote in The Guardian that “Putin has now become a cartoon villain” in the West and blaming the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Nato’s “anti-Russian incitement”. He later said Russia’s annexation of Crimea was “clearly defensive”.

The alliance, by embracing the Baltic nations and Ukraine, was guilty of having “marched relentlessly eastwards”, ignoring the fact that the Baltic countries joined Nato of their own freewill having spent 50 years under the Soviet yoke.

Labour MPs believe Corbyn’s approach is a legacy of Moscow’s opposition to the US in the Cold War and has led to residual support for Putin’s regime even though it is no longer communist but an authoritarian kleptocracy.

Milne wrote in 2006 that the USSR “encompassed genuine idealism”, and “helped to drive up welfare standards in the West”.

His view was shared by Corbyn, who said in 1991 that he was “concerned at the break-up of the Soviet Union” and suggested, in 2015, that the build-up of Nato forces had given Russia “more of an excuse” for its aggression in Ukraine.

Ben Nimmo, of the Atlantic Council’s digital forensic research lab, said: “The Kremlin likes politicians who are not going to be too critical of Russia.”

[End Article]

Exposed: Russian Twitter bots tried to swing general election for Jeremy Corbyn.

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INSIGHT INVESTIGATION: Exposed: Russian Twitter bots tried to swing general election for Jeremy Corbyn (Robot accounts rooted for Labour and attacked Tories).

[Posted by Lara Keller, 7/5/18]

[Original Source]

[Note= The Sunday Times is a conservative UK newspaper, and like the rest of the right wing press in the UK it does consistently and strongly criticize the radical left Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (or indeed any Labour leader). There is a history of press attacks on the Labour party going back to the infamous “Zinoviev Letter” and the “Daily Mail” in 1924. A politically tribal response to rejecting all attacks on Corbyn by the right wing press is irresponsible. Corbyn appears to have spent decades attacking Nato and promoting polices favorable to nominally left-wing dictatorships abroad. This gives Putin a strong incentive to encourage a Corbyn lead Labour Government in the UK. Any information about this will inevitably only appear in the right wing press. Clement Atlee lead a transformative Labour Government in the UK in 1945, but he also ensured the UK responded to the hostile threat of the Soviet Union. There are good reasons to question Jeremy Corbyn’s motives and backers. This article may help, and so it is available here. LK 7/5/18]

[Start Article]

Jeremy Corbyn saw support for the Labour Party rise from 25% of the electorate to 40% over the course of last year’s election campaign. “Insight,” April 29 2018, 12:01am, The Sunday Times.

The first evidence of Russian attempts to influence the result of the general election by promoting the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has emerged in a ground-breaking investigation into social media by this newspaper.

Our research, in conjunction with Swansea University, discovered that 6,500 Russian Twitter accounts rallied behind Labour in the weeks before last year’s election, helping supportive messages to reach millions of voters and denigrating its Conservative rivals.

Many of the Russian accounts can clearly be identified as internet robots — known as bots — that masqueraded under female English names but were in fact mass-produced to bombard the public with orchestrated political messages.

Academics say the fake accounts identified by this newspaper are just the tip of the iceberg and called on Twitter to investigate fully the true scale of Russian meddling in British politics.

Our investigation found overwhelming support for Corbyn and Labour from the Russian social media accounts with nine out of 10 messages about the party promoting its campaign. Conversely, nine out of 10 tweets about the Conservatives were hostile.

We found that 80% of the automated accounts had been created in the weeks before the vote on June 8 and swung into action at key points during the campaign. There was evidence that Russian social media accounts:

• Piled in with retweets praising Labour and deriding the Conservatives in equal measure on May 18 — the day Theresa May launched her party’s manifesto

• Retweeted publicity and support for Corbyn’s rallies around the country which became a phenomenon of the campaign, drawing unusually large crowds

• Helped Corbyn turn the Manchester Arena bombing into a campaigning point by amplifying tweets criticising May for cutting police numbers while she had been home secretary

• Retweeted attacks on May for her refusal to engage in television debates with Corbyn, while criticising the media for being too harsh on the Labour leader

• Brought their campaign to a climax on polling day — when the UK media is not allowed to report — with a series of messages urging Labour supporters to vote.

The election proved to be an extraordinary success personally for Corbyn, who saw his party’s support rise from 25% to 40% over the course of the campaign — the largest surge in support during a modern election.

Matt Hancock, the digital and culture secretary, called on Twitter to reveal the scale of the problem and act to prevent it from happening again. “These new revelations are extremely concerning,” he said. “It is absolutely unacceptable for any nation to attempt to interfere in the democratic elections of another country. The social media companies need to act to safeguard our democratic discourse and reveal what they know.”

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Russia has already been accused of using such tactics to back Donald Trump in the 2016 American presidential election. This is the first time, however, that such Russian cyber-tactics have been documented in the 2017 UK general election, which saw Corbyn defy all predictions.

The Labour leader has faced repeated criticism for his reluctance to strongly condemn Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, over the Salisbury nerve agent attacks last month.

Our team of researchers found 16,000 Russian bots had been tweeting on British politics since April last year. We narrowed our study, however, to a sample of 20,000 tweets from Russia collected by Swansea University and posted in the four weeks before the general election so that we could assess each individual message’s political slant.

The academics from Swansea say the sample reflected only a fraction of social media content on the election and therefore believe the stark findings are evidence of an attempt to influence British politics on a grander scale.

Professor Oleksandr Talavera, the Swansea University economist who collected the data, said: “The samples provide evidence that Russian-language bots were used deliberately to try to influence the election in favour of Labour and against the Conservatives.

“The data represents just a small random sample and therefore the Russian-language automated bot behaviour we have observed is likely to be only the tip of the iceberg of their general election operation.”

Our researchers were able to establish that the messages were broadcast by thousands of automated bot accounts created in the months before the election.

Hundreds of the Twitter accounts were created simultaneously and displayed clear identifying factors. One of the most common was the use of 15-character alphanumeric user names with a false western woman’s name attached — even though they listed their first language as Russian.

At times, they tweeted the same messages in unison. Many were retweets from Labour Twitter accounts including Corbyn’s own and those of Labour-supporting unions and the grassroots campaign group Momentum in an apparent attempt to amplify the party’s message.

The bots were quick to leap to Corbyn’s defence when needed. When Corbyn was criticised in the campaign for failing to know the cost of one of his key policies, a gang of 34 accounts masquerading as women retweeted the same message simultaneously saying the media should respect the Labour leader.

Damian Collins, the Conservative MP who chairs the culture, media and sport select committee, said he would challenge Twitter on the findings as part of his committee’s inquiry into social media disinformation.

“Any Russian interference in the politics of the UK is a breach of our election law and something we’ve got to act to stop,” he said.

In response to our story, the Labour Party suggested that the Russian government had supported the Conservative Party during the election. A spokesman said: “Labour’s proposed crackdown on tax dodging, failed privatisation and corrupt oligarchs is opposed by both May and Putin’s conservative philosophy and their super-rich supporters.

“The Labour Party’s people-powered election campaign attracted huge levels of public support online. We were not aware of any from automated bots, categorically did not pay for any and are not aware of any of our supporters doing so.”

Twitter said its work to fight malicious bots “goes beyond any one specific election, event, or time period”. It had spent years working to identify and remove such accounts and was continuing the improvement of its internal systems “to detect and prevent new forms of spam and malicious automation”.

[End Article]

How Russian bots invaded Twitter to fight in Jeremy Corbyn’s army.

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INSIGHT INVESTIGATION: How Russian bots invaded Twitter to fight in Jeremy Corbyn’s army.

[Posted by Lara Keller, 7/5/18]
[Original Source =]

[Note= The Sunday Times is a conservative UK newspaper, and like the rest of the right wing press in the UK it does consistently and strongly criticize the radical left Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (or indeed any Labour leader). There is a history of press attacks on the Labour party going back to the infamous “Zinoviev Letter” and the “Daily Mail” in 1924. A politically tribal response to rejecting all attacks on Corbyn by the right wing press is irresponsible. Corbyn appears to have spent decades attacking Nato and promoting polices favorable to nominally left-wing dictatorships abroad. This gives Putin a strong incentive to encourage a Corbyn lead Labour Government in the UK. Any information about this will inevitably only appear in the right wing press. Clement Atlee lead a transformative Labour Government in the UK in 1945, but he also ensured the UK responded to the hostile threat of the Soviet Union. There are good reasons to question Jeremy Corbyn’s motives and backers. This article may help, and so it is available here. LK 7/5/18]

[Start Article]

It was a stunning election comeback by Labour — but there were Russians in its ranks, reports “Insight”, April 29 2018, 12:01am, The Sunday Times.

It was the moment that brought a tear to the eye of the prime minister. At 10pm on June 8, 2017, a shock exit poll revealed that Theresa May’s seemingly well-judged gamble of bolstering her majority with a snap general election had backfired.

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, had defied expectations. When the campaign began there had been a widespread belief that he was unelectable and his demise would be swift following the inevitable Conservative landslide.

But the campaign changed that: Corbyn lifted Labour support from 25% to 40%. The party’s gains cemented the most unlikely political transformation in decades, elevating Corbyn to a serious contender whose name would be sung with cult-like reverence when he appeared on stage at the Glastonbury festival a fortnight later.

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The causes of the result are still being debated. Was it the galvanisation of the youth vote, did May run a lacklustre campaign or were the polls wrong from the beginning?

One question has been largely overlooked, until now. Did Moscow attempt to influence the British general election by using social media in the same way that it tried to boost the fortunes of Donald Trump during the 2016 American elections?

A ground-breaking investigation by The Sunday Times in conjunction with Swansea University has found the first strong evidence that large numbers of mechanised Russian social media accounts attempted to influence the result during the seven-week campaign.

Our research suggests there was an orchestrated attempt to propel Corbyn into Downing Street by bombarding the public with positive messages in support of Labour, using Twitter accounts that were mostly created after the election was suggested early last year.

At the same time, the Russian accounts identified in our research disseminated a deluge of negative propaganda against Labour’s main rival, the Conservatives. Comments such as “The Tories are literally killing our children” were retweeted by mechanised Russian accounts using fake English-sounding women’s names.

Professor Oleksandr Talavera, the Swansea University economist who collected the data, said: “The samples provide evidence that Russian language bots were used deliberately to try to influence the election in favour of Labour and against the Conservatives.

“The data represents just a small random sample and therefore the Russian-language automated bot behaviour we have observed is likely to be only the tip of the iceberg of their general election operation.”

Our research centred on millions of election tweets collected by Swansea University during the campaign. We narrowed them down to a sample of 20,000 tweets from accounts using Russian language or Russian place names that were posted in the four weeks leading up to the election. We employed a team of researchers to read each one to assess whether they were positive or negative for the main political parties.

We discovered that many of the messages were retweets sent by thousands of mechanised Twitter accounts — commonly known as bots. Most of the 6,500 Russian accounts supporting Labour were bots. They were typically created in huge batches at similar times in the lead-up to the election and were later suspended by Twitter’s moderators or shut themselves down.

These accounts were often easy for our researchers to identify because they frequently hid behind 15-character user names that contained a mixture of numbers and letters in upper and lower case. On some occasions they retweeted the same message of support within seconds of each other.

The results were stark. Nine out of 10 of the messages that expressed an opinion on Labour were positive and conversely nine out of 10 which mentioned the Conservatives were negative. The interest in the other main political parties appeared minor.

The story of the Russian attempt to influence the election begins on March 6 last year, when William Hague, the former foreign secretary, set a hare running in the Conservative Party by suggesting that the prime minister should take advantage of Corbyn’s dwindling support by calling an early general election.

Over the next 24 hours an army of Russian bot accounts was created. They were uniformly western women’s names accompanied by alphanumeric usernames and, although the principal language for the accounts was Russian, many claimed they were in the Pacific time zone. They would later take an unusual interest in the British general election.

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The next month, after the prime minister stood outside Downing Street to announce the election, there was a series of new spikes in the creation of bot accounts identified by our researchers.

Many older accounts were also reinvigorated. Two days after the election announcement, Nikola from Moscow retweeted Corbyn: “They’ve broken their promises for seven years. How can we believe a word they say over the next seven weeks?” And AlecMoooody from the US retweeted a message railing against Corbyn’s alleged censorship by the BBC using the hashtag “Corbyn4PM”.

In evidence to the US Congress, Twitter would later identify both those accounts as creations of the Internet Research Agency, a shadowy company in St Petersburg that employs hundreds of “trolls” to post Kremlin propaganda on social media. During the American elections the agency waged a campaign of messages supporting Donald Trump and disparaging Hillary Clinton.

The Russian bots identified by our researchers followed a similar pattern in the UK election. Over and over again, they amplified tweets that supported Labour and those that attacked the Conservatives, helping the spread of the messages to hundreds, thousands and possibly millions of people. Much of the propaganda centred on key events in the election. At the times when the bots spread positivity for Labour, they would also spread almost equal amounts of negativity for the Conservatives.

So when the Conservatives launched their election manifesto on May 18 the bots stepped up the output of pro-Labour tweets and were withering about the Tories. For example, “Gabrielle Wilson” retweeted a message criticising Theresa May because that “manifesto abandons older people & will do nothing to address inequality”.

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On closer inspection, Wilson’s first language was Russian and her account had an alphanumeric Twitter username of 15 characters, @NR2AtERXvfDy0Nx, which was the hallmark of many of the bots identified in our research. Her account has been suspended by Twitter.

The Manchester terrorist attack four days later was another opportunity for the bots to engage in British politics. They retweeted Corbyn’s condolences to the victims’ families and in the following days, one, entitled simply “Denis”, repeated the Labour leader’s calls for May to resign over cuts in police numbers.

The Denis account was curious. It was written in Russian Cyrillic characters and while the name was a man’s, the main photo was of a blonde woman. It also contained several pornographic images and positive messages about Trump — again a common feature linking some of the bot networks.

As the campaign developed, so did the growing cult of personality surrounding Corbyn. Rallies around the country would see unusual surges of support as social media came alive with the news that the Labour leader was in town.

Labour claimed this support was “organic”. The more the public saw the man and heard his message, they argued, the more they liked him. That may well have been true but our research also shows he was given significant assistance by the bots from Russia.

They avidly retweeted his personal Twitter account and broadcast his movements around the UK. In early June, “Lillian Morgan” retweeted a message from the pro-Kremlin broadcaster Russia Today inviting people to watch Corbyn’s speech in Reading. The event drew comment in the newspapers because a surprisingly large crowd attended during a workday lunchtime.

On closer inspection, Morgan’s username was @sMzNFVr7wWkTW04, her account was created in Russian and it was suspended at some point after she had tweeted. She was a bot.

The same family of bots were quick to defend the Labour leader whenever he found himself in hot water. The day before the Reading rally, Corbyn was pilloried for a disastrous interview on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour when he appeared unsure about the cost of his plans to provide free childcare.

Within hours, the bots started to weigh in heavily on Corbyn’s behalf. “JeremyCorbyn deserves the #respect of the #media and fellow #politicians,” retweeted “Heather”, “Hayley” and “Noelle” a few hours later at exactly the same time.

In fact, in our sample there were 34 accounts with similar-sounding English female names who retweeted this identical message that day in two batches less than 10 minutes apart. All the women were Russian speakers and their accounts had come into existence over the course of two days in the fourth week of the election campaign. They also all contained the familiar 15-character alphanumeric username and would later vanish from the Twittersphere.

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By election day, the bots were again engaged imploring Labour supporters to get out and vote. “Jessica Langdon” was up early retweeting a message from the Corbyn-supporting journalist Owen Jones that said: “The Tories think they’re going to win big. Ring your friends, talk to your workmates, talk to younger voters. Tick tock.”

Ben Nimmo, of the Atlantic Council’s digital forensic research lab, told this newspaper that the evidence suggested the bots has been used in “a dedicated effort” to influence the election.

“If you compare the rhetoric on Russia from Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May it’s pretty obvious which one’s the Kremlin’s going to prefer,” he said.

He added, however, that the effectiveness of the bots and the precise role, if any, of President Vladimir Putin’s government in this attempt were questions that remained. The election did, however, provide the most extraordinary result. Written off at the outset, Corbyn defied his doubters and increased Labour’s share of the vote by more than any other Labour leader since 1945.

Election surprises

  • Labour won the social media war because more people shared its posts even though the Tories outspent them on Facebook adverts
  • When terrorists struck in Manchester and London Bridge, it was assumed Theresa May would benefit but Jeremy Corbyn gained support by focusing on police cuts
  • Corbyn made rallies a campaign priority — and gathered crowds of 1,000 people with a few tweets
  • Student turnout helped Labour win key seats such as Canterbury

“INSIGHT” RESEARCH TEAM: George Arbuthnott, Jonathan Calvert, Krystina Shveda, Louis Goddard, Mary O’Connor, Katie Weston, Malik Ouzia, Rebecca Gualandi, Rosie Bradbury

[End Article]

While Russia bans books, the useful idiot Corbyn swallows its lies whole. By Anne Applebaum 2015.

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“While Russia bans books, the useful idiot Corbyn swallows its lies whole.”
By Anne Applebaum, The Sunday Times, August 9 2015

Start Article

[ Source=The Sunday Times, 9/8/15, ]

IN THE year 1968 the brief “thaw” was over in the USSR. President Leonid Brezhnev was consolidating his power. Demonstrators were chanting communist slogans in Paris; in Berkeley they were putting up posters of Mao and Che. Meanwhile, Robert Conquest was methodically collecting memoirs, letters and articles written by people who had actually experienced communist terror, served in communist prisons and witnessed communist show trials.

For it was in 1968 that Conquest, who died last week aged 98, published his seminal book The Great Terror. A history of Stalin’s purges in 1937-38, The Great Terror appeared at a moment when the subject matter was remarkably unpopular not only in the USSR but in the West.

It was also a moment when the subject matter was remarkably hard to research. Soviet archives were unavailable; the only “official” sources peddled the regime’s propaganda. But Conquest, who first visited the USSR as a young communist in 1937, knew the difference between propaganda and reality. Having served as a British intelligence officer in Bulgaria during the war, he also understood very well how much violence and terror had been required to achieve the Sovietisation of central Europe, and the Stalinisation of Russia before that.

Perhaps because he was a poet as well as a historian — among other things a composer of witty limericks — Conquest was always interested in the human costs of that violence, too.

So he read and quoted witnesses such as the Poles who had escaped Stalin’s camps during the war, the Ukrainians who fled the USSR in 1945, and former communists such as Alexander Orlov, an NKVD officer in Spain who defected when he realised all of his colleagues had been arrested.

Orlov’s own book, The Secret History of Stalin’s Crimes, was considered dubious at the time. But as Conquest observed: “Just because a source may be erroneous or unreliable on certain points does not invalidate all its evidence.” Edward Gibbon himself had, he noted, argued that “imperfect and partial” evidence may contribute to a broader story.

At the time, Conquest’s own book was considered somewhat dubious by more fashionable historians. But it gained a following, as well as many famous readers, among them Margaret Thatcher. And, of course, it was smuggled into the Soviet Union and translated into Russian, where it was read avidly by a generation of people who knew the official version of history was fake and were desperate to learn more.

Not all of them were dissidents either. Some 40 years ago, the KGB searched a Moscow apartment belonging to a Russian friend of mine. They rifled through his possessions, tipped over a desk or two and finally picked up one of the books in triumph.

It was his contraband copy of The Great Terror, by Robert Conquest. “Now we’ll get to read it,” they told him.

In the 1990s, after the Soviet Union finally collapsed, archives proved Conquest right, not only about the terror of 1937-38 but also the Ukrainian famine of 1932-33 — the subject of his book The Harvest of Sorrow — the camps of Kolyma and much else.

Documents have helped us to be more precise about dates, numbers, decisions and motives in Stalin’s USSR. But the outline of the story has not changed. As it turned out, the witnesses were largely right — and the western fellow travellers were as wrong as their Soviet counterparts.

The trajectory of Conquest’s career is worth remembering right now, particularly as the Russian government returns, once again, to the time-honoured practice of banning books. Not long ago, the school district of Yekaterinburg decided to take a stand against “Nazism”. In order to do so, the authorities instructed school libraries to ban not the works of Hitler or Joseph Goebbels, but the works of Antony Beevor and John Keegan. Both are British military historians who have written objectively, and not always flatteringly, about the Red Army and especially the campaign of rape and terror that it carried out during the conquest of Berlin.

And just now, as Russia is gearing up its propaganda machine, which is far more sophisticated than the Soviet version ever was, to attack the “Nazis” in Ukraine and the threat from a “Nazi revival” in the West, anything that contains too many facts about what actually happened during the Second World War is going to be suspect.

If Russia’s urge to reshape its history is back, so is the old-fashioned western admiration for brutal regimes, and on all sides of the political spectrum. Just as some on the far left once sought to excuse and explain Stalinism, a range of people on both the modern far left and far right now seek not only to excuse and explain Putinism, but to support the official Russian state version of its own history, as well as the history of recent events in Ukraine.

Jeremy Corbyn, would-be leader of the Labour party, is the latest in a long line of useful idiots. Corbyn has recommended that his Twitter followers watch the Russian propaganda channel, Russia Today, which he has described as “more objective” than other channels. Never mind that Russia Today interviews actors who claim to be “witnesses” and invents stories — for example, that a Russian-speaking child was crucified by a Ukrainian.

Corbyn is also one of many on the European far left as well as the far right who appears to have swallowed wholesale Russia’s lie that war in Ukraine has been created by Nato, rather than by the “separatists” who have invaded eastern Ukraine and are paid, trained and organised by Russia itself. Or maybe they have pretended to swallow the lie because it suits their own anti-American or anti-democratic agendas.

In some cases it even suits their own financial interests. Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front, has been lent millions of euros by a Russian bank. With so much money at stake, it’s not surprising she isn’t bothered by the deaths of more than 6,000 people in a totally unnecessary war. National Front leaders regularly visit Moscow. One of Le Pen’s advisers went to Crimea during the “referendum” there last year, to serve as one of the election observers who came to rubber-stamp the process.

Conquest would have known what to say about this — and in fact he did say it, writing in The Spectator in 1961: “There is something particularly unpleasant about those who, living in a political democracy, comfortably condone terror elsewhere.”

He would also have known what to do about it: go back to the sources, listen to people, find out what really happened, write the truth and then act accordingly. “In a jungle full of totalitarian monsters,” he wrote in that same article, “liberal democracy needs teeth.” More than half a century later, that’s still sage advice.

Anne Applebaum is the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Gulag: A History

End Article


  1. This 2015 article questions the specific claim that Corbyn recommends RT “Russia Today” Applebaum vs Corbyn – Spinning History (See ).
  2. Another 2015 article on the subject of Jeremy Corbyn, Putin, “Useful idiot” theme. Is Jeremy Corbyn Putin’s latest ‘useful idiot’ in Europe? ( ).
  3. A left-wing case against Jeremy Corbyn. 2015. James Bloodworth: A left-wing case against Comrade Jeremy Corbyn. ).
  4. Totally neutral image: holyCorbyn - Copy

James Bloodworth: A left-wing case against Comrade Jeremy Corbyn (2015)

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James Bloodworth: A left-wing case against Comrade Jeremy Corbyn (2015)

[Posted by Lara Keller 14/10/17]

[ source = ]

By James Bloodworth, 4/8/2015

Until mid-2011 I was a member of a small London-based Trotskyist group. Early in that same year, as part of my propaganda efforts on behalf of the group I ended up at a meeting of the Labour Representation Committee, a left-wing faction of the Labour party, where I listened to Jeremy Corbyn deliver a rousing speech on the then raging war in Libya.

From memory, the speech was not so much anti-war, which would have been perfectly reasonable considering talk at the time of Nato intervention, as pro that country’s dictator, Colonel Gaddafi. I do not remember the exact contents of the speech – it took place when Corbyn was an obscure backbencher – only that audible groans filled enlightened corners of the hall, including my own, when the left-winger began to reel off what he considered the “achievements” of the Gaddafi regime.

“A person cannot conceivably be anti-establishment when they are so willing to line up behind some of the most atrocious ‘establishments’ in the world”
– James Bloodworth

You might call my experience of that day the beginning of my education in the left-wing case against Jeremy Corbyn, who since then has risen from obscure backbencher to likely next leader of the Labour party.

The right-wing case against Corbyn is a straightforward one. Indeed, the conservative press in Britain has constructed an entire vocabulary with which to smear as a lunatic anyone, like Corbyn, who does not accept that the best Britain can hope for is a society where tens of thousands of people a year rely on food banks to survive.

The right’s problem with Corbyn is not that he is “unelectable” – in fact the thing conservatives fear most is an electable left-wing politician – rather it is that he talks in tones that make them want to hold their bulging purses a little tighter.

No, Corbyn is striking a chord with Labour activists because in many respects he is correct: a Britain built on finance capitalism and property speculation will never work in the interests of the majority. That isn’t Bolshevism; it’s the ABC of social democracy. The problem with Labour’s so-called modernisers, or Blairites, or whatever you want to call them, is that they appear to have forgotten much of this.

From the television studios at Milbank to the plush conference halls at party conference, at some point over the past 30 years the oppressed began to look a little less oppressed to the policy pedants of the Labour establishment.

The best case against Corbyn is not that he is a wild-eyed socialist, but instead goes back to my initial reminiscence: he is remarkably good at proffering apologetics for dictatorship and tyranny. As well as Gaddafi, Corbyn has in recent years championed/made excuses for Venezuelan autocrat Hugo Chavez, Russian gay-basher Vladimir Putin, the butcher of Bosnian Muslims Slobodan Milosevic and the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

He has also worked for Iranian state broadcaster Press TV (home of Holocaust deniers and other cranks) and has referred to fascistic terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah as his “friends”.

It is this, rather than any desire to make the British economy more like that of Germany – the horror! – which ought to prevent Labour members from voting for Corbyn in the upcoming Labour leadership election. A person cannot conceivably be anti-establishment when they are so willing to line up behind some of the most atrocious “establishments” in the world.

This matters perhaps more today than it did in the past. Large swathes of the world are currently convulsed by war and/or under the boot of dictatorship. The world urgently requires a vocal and internationally minded left – a left which, while recognising imperialist follies such as the war in Iraq, never grovels to religious fascists and whose instinctive reaction to tyranny is one of revulsion rather than reverential talk about the “achievements” of this or that thuggish dictatorship – however “left” the posture of the regime in question

“Comrade Corbyn, a nice man who loathes tyranny and anti-Semitism, ends up on platforms lavishing praise on tyrants and anti-Semites”
– James Bloodworth

Unfortunately, Corbyn’s indulgence of tyranny is invariably where politics takes you if you accept the increasingly fashionable view that the US is the world’s most malevolent power. In building up the US as public enemy number one, the left must invent disagreements with it – and by extension Britain – to prop up an increasingly tortuous ideological house of cards.

Thus because the US is the beating heart of capitalism, it must always and everywhere be the “root cause” (you will hear that phrase a lot) of the world’s problems; and by deduction, any movement that points a gun in its direction must invariably have something going for it.

To agree with David Cameron about, say, the threat from Islamic State (Isis) is to admit there are nastier forces in the world than George Osborne and the Daily Mail. And if this turns out to be true, the main enemy might not be capitalism after all – and thus the illusions begin to melt away.

It may be accurate that, as his supporters like to point out, Corbyn “actually believes in something”. And yes, ideology can at times inspire tremendous good. But it can also make a person believe that a goldfish is a racehorse.

This is how Comrade Corbyn, a nice man who loathes tyranny and anti-Semitism, ends up on platforms lavishing praise on tyrants and anti-Semites. And it is how some of the very best now find themselves willing on a man who consistently gives succour to some of the very worst.

The truth is that, however much a Corbyn-led Labour party might claim to be standing up for the most vulnerable, it will always and everywhere be willing to sacrifice the very people it ought to stick up for – the world’s democrats, secularists, Jews, gays and women – on the ideological alter of anti-Americanism. This, as I will never tire of pointing out, ought to make Corbyn persona non grata for any principled person of the left.

James Bloodworth is editor of Left Foot Forward. You can follow James @J_Bloodworth and his blog @LeftFootFwd.

[End Article]

Jeremy Corbyn’s silence over Aleppo shows how he has become a lobbyist for Iran (2016)

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Jeremy Corbyn’s silence over Aleppo shows how he has become a lobbyist for Iran (2016)

[ source = ]

By Sam Hamad,  12/12/2016

As Aleppo was consumed by fascist counterrevolution, while the people of the formerly liberated eastern areas of the city were being cleansed or dying waiting to be cleansed, Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the [UK] Labour Party and Her Majesty’s Opposition, was attending a Christmas fundraising dinner for the Stop the War Coalition (SWC). You might think his attendance of such an event is generally innocuous and unconnected to far off happenings in Syria. You’d be wrong.

One might wonder why Jeremy Corbyn has been so quiet on Syria on the face of the fall of Aleppo, or why, when challenged by Peter Tatchell, he had to leave to find out what the correct public line of his leadership was on Syria? Or why, during the emergency debate on Aleppo in the UK parliament, the alleged internationalist Corbyn stayed only to hear the meandering, incoherent speech of his shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, before leaving without saying a word? If you are wondering these things then you ought to look no further than not simply his connection with the SWC, but his ideological congruence with it.

The SWC has been among the loudest voices over the last five years that have sought to push narratives supporting the regime of Bashar al-Assad, as well as his partners Iran and Russia, as they unleashed a genocidal war against Syrians who rose up against them in the name of freedom and self-determination. It has hosted a number of pro-regime and, not-so-ironically if you understand the function of the SWC, pro-war voices such as its vice chairman and Corbyn’s long-standing comrade George Galloway, who took to Twitter to praise the ‘Syrian Arab Army’ at a time when it was going door-to-door murdering men, women and children in Aleppo. Though the SWC always disputes its support for Assad, Iran and Russia, a look at its output on the conflict over the years ought to leave one with very little doubt regarding their allegiances.

However, the fact that the leader of the UK’s largest political party and the leader of the official opposition saw fit to attend this fundraiser is no surprise. Since becoming leader of the opposition, Corbyn has had to be more cautious about stating his views openly, but by just briefly looking into his recent history on these questions, his true views on the situation in Syria are obvious. It was he who was national chair of the SWC as they organised pro-Assad demos following Assad’s gassing to death of over one thousands Syrian civilians at Ghouta, or when they invited Mother Agnes Mariam, who is not just a supporter of but a fully-fledged propagandist for Assad’s genocidal war effort, to a ‘peace’ conference.

Moreover, if one takes a look through Corbyn’s interventions in the British parliament, one can see that in every debate on whether the UK government should materially support Syrians resisting Assad, Iran and Russia, one can see the same essential message of hostility towards the Syrian revolution. This is not a subtle thing – though Corbyn might pay lip service to condemning in vague terms the “violence” in Syria, as a backbench MP, his interventions in parliament concerning Syria sought to repeat the regime’s narrative that the rebels were Islamic extremists, akin to the Taliban.

In addition to this, Corbyn has essentially lobbied for Iran to be rewarded for its intervention in Syria, underwriting and participating in genocide, with a seat at the top table in terms of negotiating over Syria’s future. This is not a point that should be glossed over. While progressives from all backgrounds understand that the dynamic in Syria, beyond all the complexities, is one between armed forces that arose as part of a popular revolution and a brutal tyrant and his foreign imperialist allies attempting to crush the revolution, those who are sympathetic to the regime have attempted to portray the revolution as a ‘western’ conspiracy against Iran.

“Corbyn could easily be described as a lobbyist for the Iranian regime.”

Corbyn is, of course, not crude enough to state this openly, but in combination with his will to slander the rebels as being akin to the Taliban and tie them to Islamic terrorism, he has been keen to push this idea as a justification for Iranian intervention on behalf of Assad. This is precisely what he did in a debate in parliament in May 2013, when he claimed that despite the presence of its troops in Syria, Iran was only ‘presumably helping Assad’ as it felt “under threat” from the Syrian revolution due to the “vast amount of arms” being supplied to the rebels, adding that Iran might be “next on the western countries” hit list’.

While it’s never overtly stated, the inferences here is that Assad and Iran are the victims. The idea, much-loved by Assad, Iran and Russia’s propagandists, that there exists an actual ‘hit list’ of countries that the West wants to overthrow for all kinds of nefarious reasons. As with all conspiracy theories, the essential point of this is not to elucidate any facts but rather to obfuscate them – in this case it’s the crimes of fascistic and anti-human tyrannies that are conceived to be ‘anti-western’ in their geopolitical demeanour and are thus to be supported, regardless of whether there is an actually existing revolution against them or whether they are imposing their hegemony over Syrians seeking self-determination.

Corbyn could easily be described as a lobbyist for the Iranian regime. In the same sleazy manner as the Tory politicians, so hated by Corbyn and his supporters, who claim to support ‘human rights’ in Saudi Arabia before selling them weapons and the means to maintain their domestic tyranny, Corbyn has strongly advocated that such relations be transferred from Saudi’s brutal theocracy to that of the Iranian regime’s.

In article for, of all places, the Morning Star, entitled ‘Rebuilding Relations With Iran’, written in 2014, after the Iranian regime’s brutal crushing of the nascent democratic Green uprising and during its key participation in the genocidal war effort of Assad in Syria, Corbyn makes a sordid case for normalising relations with the regime, employing the usual juvenile whataboutery and dubious historical validations that comprise justifications and apologia Iranian regime. Corbyn vaguely mentions something about the Iranian regime’s treatment of ‘trade union movements’, but doesn’t mention the crushing of the Green Movement or its support for who he calls in the article ‘President Assad of Syria’, who, with Iran’s direction and help had at that point managed to murder around 400,000 people.

But why would Corbyn mention any of Iran’s crimes in Syria in the article – or at all? This a person who has received money from the Iranian regime via its anti-Semitic, sectarian propaganda outlet Press TV, as well as being a guest of the regime on various occasions, including posing for photos with regime officials.

It’s for this reason that, during the emergency debate on Aleppo, Corbyn the internationalist couldn’t find his voice; instead, the dreaded Labour ‘centrists’ and Liberal Democrats put the progressive view on Syria forward. However, the key point of the entire debate was made by George Osborne, who recognised the genocidal dimensions of what was occurring in Syria and the West’s responsibility in failing to support the rebels, but also its capacity in aiding the rise of fascism in Europe.

Corbyn’s stance on Syria makes it impossible for him to understand this dynamic, the dynamic of Syria as an open sore from which the poison of fascism and post-fact populism is spreading and infecting the whole world, the necessity is now for a progressive opposition to emerge. One that not only understands this dynamic but is equipped to meet it head on, as opposed to appease or acquiesce to it. Labourites must understand Syria and Aleppo as existential moments for them and for the very foundations of progressive politics, just as their late colleague Jo Cox did.

The Labour Party is actually a microcosm for the current dynamics that have been exacerbated by the Syrian crisis. The party is currently caught between the legacy of the malfeasance of Blairism, the crimes of which have been a devil on the back of the Syrian revolution, as well as the consequences of such malfeasance – the symbolically ‘left-wing’ symptom of the general disease that is rapidly devouring the centre in western politics.

And make no mistake: this is what Corbyn and his movement represents, socialism at home and support for fascist counterrevolution abroad. The kind of movement that managed to outdo the Daily Mail’s infamous ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts’ by praising the triumph of fascism in Aleppo as a ‘liberation’, much in the same way it praises the triumph of Donald Trump and the ‘alt-right’ in the US as a revolt against ‘neoliberalism’.

The genocide in Syria determined by Russia and Iran is the kind of world order envisioned by Corbyn and his ilk.

Sam Hamad is a Scottish-Egyptian writer based in Edinburgh. He specialises in Middle Eastern affairs.

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