Jeremy Corbyn – Agent Cob?

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This week there has been a deluge of deluded scandal surrounding the intriguing allegations that in the 1980’s Jeremy Corbyn may have been a communist spy. Many Tories have come out in open support of these allegations, notably Ben Bradley, Ben Wallace and Gavin Williamson. But how much is actually true? And what are the implications?

Ben Bradley claimed that Corbyn had “sold British secrets to communist spies”, a claim which he has later retracted following its debunking. However, like many myths, his story has its basis in fact: during the 1980s Corbyn met with many foreign diplomats, gaining the nickname “foreign secretary of the Left”. He did indeed meet with the third-secretary to the Czechoslovakian embassy in London, Jan Sarkocy, but it now transpires he did not smuggle classified secrets; the largest piece of information being handed over was a clipping from a newspaper about a bungled MI5 raid. Many have described this meeting as sinister but, as Owen Jones put it, “him meeting foreign diplomats for a chat is about as surprising as the Tories selling arms to brutal dictators”. Sarkocy postulated wilder claims still, notably that Corbyn was trading such sartorial secrets as what clothes Margaret Thatcher was wearing and what she had for breakfast.

In the face of this pitiful evidence, is it really just to label him a spy? The Czechoslovakian intelligence described him as nothing more than a gentle man “who owns dogs and fish. Behaviour courteous and reserved, however occasionally explosive (when speaking in defence of human rights)”. In the face of this poor “evidence”, for want of a better word, why have The Telegraph, The Daily Mail and The Sun, amongst others, claimed that Corbyn’s links were more sinister than they are? In all fairness, it is not wholly unexpected for the right-wing press to try to tear Corbyn apart. Since he has become leader of the Labour party, there has been a collaborative attempt to tear at his credibility, portraying the leadership as “terrorists”, “communist sympathisers” and “Britain-hating”; The Sun calling for “blue murder” in order to “kill off Labour”, The Daily Mail pleading Theresa May to “crush the saboteurs”. This may seem to be just the usual, harmless, left-bashing, right-wing media but recently it has taken a more sinister turn with many being radicalised by the sensationalist diatribe, committing acts of atrocity and horrible violence against the political left. Darren Osborne recently drove a van into a mosque, admitting that he hoped to murder Jeremy Corbyn, because “it would be one less terrorist [on] our streets”; the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox, committed by a right-wing terrorist stirred up into a frenzy by the media that he would do such a thing to try and gain “freedom for Britain”, by killing a Labour MP.

The claims that Corbyn could have been a spy seem comic and a laughable respite from the depressing goings-on of late, but under the surface bubbles an uncertain and sinister witch-hunt by the right-wing press.