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Jeremy Corbyn must be clear on terror

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 06/08/2015

Jeremy Corbyn is bidding to become Labour leader
Jeremy Corbyn is bidding to become Labour leader

There are many reasons why Jeremy Corbyn could not win the battle to replace Ed Miliband as Labour Party leader. His tax and spend policies, his strong left-wing views and his desire to see a united Ireland are among the most obvious. Ironically, there seem to be many within the broader Labour movement who see those views as his strength, putting real distance between the party and the Tories.

But what will either his opponents or supporters make of his car crash interview with Stephen Nolan on Radio Ulster yesterday? Three times he refused to unequivocally condemn previous IRA violence. If that was not bad enough, he then tried to draw, by implication, some kind of equivalency between State violence during the Troubles in Northern Ireland and IRA terrorism.

In some respects this dodging of the issue - he kept maintaining that the focus should be on how to take the peace process forward - should not be surprising. In the past he met Sinn Fein representatives at Westminster not long after the Brighton bombing, which almost wiped out the then Tory Government, and also rated terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah among his political friends.

Yet is is astonishing that a man who is favourite to win the Labour leadership race and become leader of the Opposition in Parliament - and potentially even become Prime Minister in the future - should so openly equivocate on his attitude to terrorism.

At a time when Islamic extremists threaten the stability of the entire Middle East and have also been guilty of atrocious crimes on the streets of London, the public expects its political leaders to have a strong anti-terrorism agenda. We only have to see the reaction of relatives of those who suffered at the hands of terrorism in Northern Ireland to Mr Corbyn's performance to understand how hurtful his position is to them.

It is a position that is beyond the Pale and he now needs to spell out, without equivocation, just where he stands on terrorism of all shades.

This step is required not only to reassure the electorate that Britain does not and will not sympathise in any shape with terrorism, but also to quell the fears of Labour Party members. After this year's demoralising general election defeat, they want a leader who can get into Downing Street.

Jeremy Corbyn has done his chances of that no good at all.

Belfast Telegraph

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