Belfast Telegraph

Labour's wriggling over its past meetings with terrorists is enough to make your hair curl, no matter what Abbott says

By Lindy McDowell

It must be a bit of a gunk to supporters of IRA terrorism that anger at Jeremy Corbyn's links to the Provos should have come to so dominate this current general election campaign. It has certainly surprised me.

It's been years and years since anything relating to Northern Ireland has featured as such an influencer in Westminster politics.

And the most telling thing about this particular groundswell of revolt is that it sprang from the Labour grassroots.

It was Labour - not Tory - canvassers who first revealed that time and again on the doorsteps of what had previously been the Labour Party faithful, they were being upbraided over what was seen as Corbyn's cosying up to IRA and other terrorists.

And that was even before the horror of Manchester.

Over the last few weeks no television or radio interview with either Corbyn himself, Diane Abbott or John McDonnell has passed up on the opportunity to invite whichever of the trio has been in the studio to distance themselves not just from the butchery of the IRA, but from their previous links to other notorious terror groupings including Hamas.

The result has been like watching eels squirming in a fish tank trying to escape the clutches of the chef who is planning to serve them up in a light batter.

Great television. In just about every instance the clip has gone viral.

But bearing in mind that these three could become Prime Minister, Home Secretary and Chancellor respectively, it would be fair to say their response has hardly been reassuring.

Jezza and John have waffled and prevaricated. Ms Abbott has bizarrely brought hairdos into it.

(Are we even allowed to mention hair with regard to female politicians anymore? Isn't that supposed to be sexist?) Anyway, Diane says she used to have an Afro but she's changed that.

Presumably the implication is that if she can change her mind on something important like hairstyling, she can also change her mind re terror outfits.

A tad trivialising there, bearing in mind it appears to be equating coiffure with mass murder.

And anyway, if she has really, truly changed her mind, why not just spit it out? Say it loud and clear? Instead of leaving us with the niggling impression that once elected, she could very well change her mind back again.

After all, if it's as easy as changing your hair, Diane...

You do get the distinct impression they weren't prepared for this, the Labour hierarchy.

That, while the years of "revolutionary", fist-pumping posturing, the gross anti-semitism, the espousal of terrorist rhetoric and argument has played well to the cloistered clique of metropolitan toffs who appear to have taken control of Labour, the party's working class grassroots have continued to see the world with clearer eyes.

Could Corbyn still win?

In an uncertain era that has given us a Trump for US President, only a fool would rule it out entirely.

What intrigues me however is this - if he does do well enough to form a coalition with smaller groupings, will Jeremy's Shinner pals then decide to take their seats at Westminster to serve in his administration?

The received wisdom is that, no, they would stick to their guns (so to speak) on that one.

A few months back Gerry Adams was asked on RTE if a change in his party's abstentionist stance was likely.

"No, and you knew the answer to that before you asked me," he replied.

Then again...

That would be the same Gerry Adams who, down the years, has also changed his hairdo.

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