Belfast Telegraph

So, Jeremy Corbyn, why won't you talk about what your pal Nicolas Maduro is up to in Venezuela?

By Sean O'Grady

I can perfectly well understand why Jeremy Corbyn, who seems to me to be a rather proud and stubborn man, is reluctant to dance every time the Murdoch Press, or the Daily Mail, tells him to. He owes them nothing and is shrewd enough to know the games they play.

So, when they call on him to condemn what's happening in Venezuela in the name of socialism, he goes all Zen: ignores them and hopes the whole thing will go away.

If this were some tin-pot American-sponsored dictatorship, Corbyn and Emily Thornberry would be firing off letters to No 10 demanding sanctions.

Not President Maduro in plucky Venezuela, though, with the arbitrary arrest of opposition politicians, police abuse, sub-human prison conditions and immunity for the security forces.

The great socialist experiment in Venezuela, which Labour admires so much, hasn't delivered equality except in the sense that everyone - apart from the elite - goes hungry.

True to form, Ken Livingstone has filled the vacuum his leader has allowed to develop with some analysis of his own.

Reflecting on the decline in Venezuela's fortunes, Livingstone opined on Talk Radio: "One of the things that Chavez did when he came to power, he didn't kill all the oligarchs. He allowed them to live, to carry on."

So, now we know what went wrong and who to blame: the capitalists, who should have been put up against a wall, etc.

In such circumstances, it would be timely for Corbyn, who is not as bloodthirsty as his comrade, to suggest an amendment to his previous declaration that Chavez's Venezuela was "an inspiration to all of us fighting back against austerity and neo-liberal economics in Europe".

What's the point of all this Corbyn-baiting? For me, it isn't good sport, and I don't actually relish it.

Neither do I think that Corbyn is himself set on abolishing parliamentary democracy in the UK. What I seriously wonder is why Corbyn and so many of his clever, well-educated allies seem to work under a political philosophy of 'my enemy's enemy is my friend'.

More particularly, in their case, it seems an iron rule that if some murderous monster somewhere is opposed by the United States or by British Tories or Blairites, then they must, ipso facto, be okay and worth supporting.

And, contrariwise, if the US has a close and valuable ally, as in the case of Israel, then they must necessarily attack it.

Let's take Castro, late dictator of Cuba. This was a man who, among other crimes, locked up journalists. Corbyn, a member of the National Union of Journalists, may have had this sort of thing in mind when he added the rider "for all his flaws" when he praised Fidel as a great fighter for social justice. In other words, it's okay to end freedom of speech and shut newspapers, because Cuba had some damn good, free dentistry.

Corbyn's media man, Seumas Milne, also has a long and eccentric track-record in standing up for chaps who are so weak and vulnerable they need all the help they can get.

Here he is on Robert Mugabe, well after his genocide in Matabeleland and his dismantling of the free Press, politics and judiciary, in 2002: "It is impossible to sustain the case that Zimbabwe has been singled out for international denunciation by the British Government, because of political violence, intimidation or restrictions on democratic freedoms, alarming as they are.

"Such factors are common to other African states supported by Britain, such as Kenya and Zambia."

As I say, the more you wade waist-deep in these Leftist cuttings of shame, the more impressed one becomes by the sheer intellectual poverty on display.

Britain doesn't matter much in the world, in or out of the EU, and British foreign policy therefore doesn't matter much either.

But for our own self-respect, do we really want the guys who stood up for Castro, Mugabe, Chavez, Maduro, Milosevic and (in the odd case) Mao, Stalin and Kim Jong-il, to be Britain's conscience?

Belfast Telegraph

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