11:02 GMT +317 October 2018
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    Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks at the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival in Tolpuddle, England, Sunday July 22, 2018

    Have Jeremy Corbyn's Enemies Overplayed Their Hand?

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    Neil Clark
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    The ‘Wake Up Walmington’ episode of the classic sitcom Dad’s Army, shown again last week on the BBC, contains one of my favorite lines in the entire series. Lance-Corporal Jones comes to the old barn where the platoon are to assemble, dressed as a nun. Captain Mainwaring looks up at him, and after a short pause, says: ‘You've gone too far'.

    You’ve gone too far. You could say that about those engaged in a relentless campaign to destroy the reputation of UK Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

    The attacks on Corbyn have hardly stopped since he threw his rather fetching black Breton fisherman's cap into the ring for the Labour leadership in 2015. He’s been accused of being a Czechoslovakian spy in the old Cold War. An IRA supporter/sympathiser. An anti-semite. A Stalinist AND a Trotskyist. A supporter of terrorists. A friend of Hamas and Hezbollah. A Kremlin stooge. An ally of Assad. A Serb war crimes denier. Anti-American. Anti-British. Anti-Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (ok, I made the last one up, but you get the idea).

    READ MORE: Labour Accused Media of Miscoverage of Corbyn's Tribute to Terrorists — Reports

    No other leader of a major political party has had to face as much flak as Corbyn. Yet despite the attacks, Jezza’s still standing. Not only did he win the 2015 election as a 100-1 shot, emulating Norton's Coin's heroics in the 1990 Cheltenham Gold Cup, he then won another leadership election over Blairite challenger Owen Smith one year later, by an even bigger margin- a follow-up which not even Norton's Coin could manage.

    In April 2017, Theresa May felt confident enough to call an early election, with the Tories well ahead in the polls. Throughout the campaign Corbyn was constantly vilified. On one day the Daily Mail devoted 13 pages to attacking Jeremy and his closest comrades, under the headline ‘Apologists for Terror’. On election day itself, the Sun exhorted its readers not to chuck Britain in the ’Cor-Bin’. On the front page Corbyn was described as a ’Marxist extremist’ a ’destroyer of jobs’, the ’enemy of business’ and a ’terrorists friend’. Got the message?

    On election night however, it was the opponents of Corbyn who got the fright of their lives. Rather than being thrashed out of sight as so-called  experts’ in sensible ‘centrist‘ publications had predicted, the exit poll predicted a hung Parliament. At one stage, as the first results began to come in, it even seemed as if Labour might win. In the end they just came up short, but the party, under Corbyn received 40% of the vote. It was the biggest increase in Labour’s share of the vote since 1945.

    For a man we were told was ‘unelectable’, Jeremy Corbyn has a pretty good record at elections.

    READ MORE: UK General Election: The People Defy the Gatekeepers

    The Tories learnt their lesson. Despite all their internal disagreements, and the fact they don’t have a Parliamentary majority without DUP support, Theresa May hasn’t gone to the country again. She fears Corbyn- election campaigner par excellence- too much to do that.

    But Boris Johnson’s resignation from the Cabinet in early July has changed things once again. The odds of a leadership challenge to May and an early general election  have shortened. So it was time to take the campaign against Corbyn into ‘Lance-Corporal Jones dressing up as a nun’ territory.

    The latest ‘Wreathgate’ Smears have been positively embarrassing. At first we were told that Corbyn laid wreaths at the graves of those who carried out the murderous attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Then, when it emerged that the men weren’t buried there, but in fact in another cemetery in another country, the story changed to ‘Corbyn laid wreaths at the graves of those who masterminded the attack’. Then, when that was claim was challenged, the attack turned to Corbyn not declaring his trip to Tunisia under Parliamentary rules. Then, when it was suggested that he didn’t have to because his trip was below the  cost declaration threshold, attention turned to the hotel he had stayed in. Did it really cost less than £660 for three days? Ever get the impression some people just want to get Corbs?

    No doubt if/when it is proven that the hotel did cost less than the declaration threshold, attention will turn to whether or not Corbyn tipped the waiters, or whether he franked his ticket when he went on the public transport.

    You don’t have to be a Corbynista to acknowledge that it’s all gone very silly.

    What will the next smear be, I wonder? That Corbyn advised Pol Pot? Or perhaps 'documentary evidence' will emerge that proves Corbyn was a Luftwaffe pilot in the Battle of Britain, nine years before he was born.

    Those behind the attacks on Corbyn would have been hoping that they would cost Labour support in the polls. In fact, the opposite seems to have happened. A BMG Research poll earlier in the week showed Labour two points ahead of the Tories-representing a four point swing.

    Another NCP poll confirmed the lead.  Meanwhile a You Gov poll showed that just 6% were following Wreathgate ‘very closely’.  

    Is that surprising given the many other things ordinary people have to worry about, such as rising rail fares and energy bills, falling or stagnating real wages, and the current crime wave?

    It seems the more Corbyn is attacked, the more popular he and the Labour Party become. It’s not hard to work out why. The British public like an underdog. That’s why neutrals rooted for Yeovil against the mighty Sunderland in 1949 but Sunderland against the mighty Leeds in 1973. Even Tories are coming out now and saying that the treatment of the Labour leader has been disgraceful.

    If the opponents of the Corbyn were wise they’d lay off a bit. They’re coming over as rather obsessive. People are asking, with very good reason: ‘why are you so keen for us to hate this man?’ What or who does he really threaten?

    The ‘I’ word has to be mentioned. At the forefront of the campaign against Corbyn- a veteran campaigner for Palestinian rights and opponent of Middle Eastern wars of intervention, has been the pro-Israel lobby.

    Jeremy Corbyn would be a big scalp for them, but in the short term, the lobby (we even had Benjamin Netanyahu himself joining in the attacks this week) want Corbyn and Labour’s NEC to agree to implementing the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism which includes the clauses and examples in relation to criticism of Israel. The pressure on Corbyn to capitulate on IHRA ’in the interests of party unity’ is strong, but if he does, it would be a major strategic blunder. It is likely to lead to a mass purge of thousands of Corbyn supporters from the party because of past criticism of Israel and might even lead to Corbyn himself being suspended or expelled because of things he’s said. Adopting IHRA in toto would provide a means for the Labour Right to kill-off Corbyn’s democratic socialist project, which offers ordinary Britons the best hope of real positive change that they have had for decades.

    It would be quite ironic if having seen off so many challenges, ‘The Corbynator’ then commits political hari-kari and does the one thing that could hand his opponents victory- when they themselves are so close to defeat.

    Far better if Jezza watches that old episode of Dad’s Army again and tells his enemies, al a Captain Mainwaring,: You’ve gone too far.’

    The views and opinions expressed by Neil Clark are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    Tags:
    anti-Semitism, British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, Britain
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