Andrew Neil Interviews: Jeremy Corbyn on Anti-Semitism, Brexit, Spending and Security | Samuel Martin
Despite how divided our politicians are these days, it must be remembered that they all have 3 common fears: death, irrelevancy and an interview by Andrew Neil. And when said-politician being interviewed is Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, it puts into perspective just how deserving of contempt this specific PM-hopeful is.
Like in most discussions regarding the Labour Party these days, allegations of antisemitism, as well as Corbyn’s handling of them, are understandably brought up. During his debate with Johnson (who has yet to make an appearance on Neil’s show) he proclaimed that all cases of antisemitism in the Labour Party had been investigated and concluded in appropriate action. A proclamation the Chief Rabbi has since referred to as “a mendacious fallacy”. Neil, in his renowned critically sharp fashion, cited just a handful of cases demonstrating Corbyn’s apparent apathy and incompetence. For instance, despite Corbyn’s insistence that anti-Semitism complaints were being fast-tracked within the party, Liam Moore, a party member who declared Rothschild Zionists rule the world, had yet to be disciplined after a year-long investigation. Lesley Perrin, another member, who despite Corbyn’s repeated claims of having substantially strengthened the complaints process, received only a written warning after having denied the Holocaust. Of course, like any other politician, Corbyn engaged in plentiful not-so-subtle attempts at deflecting from the question at hand. From antisemitic tropes of the far-right to anti-Semitism in society as a whole, from Islamophobia to his anti-racist “credentials” from his activism in the 70’s and 80’s, Corbyn’s definitive strategic ambiguity and his aversion to all forms of responsibility underpins what many are seeing (including some of his most ardent supporters) to be an inexcusable car-crash of an interview. Whether one considers Corbyn himself an anti-Semite or not, it is becoming hard to excuse his total lack of leadership qualities.
As was to be expected, Labour’s Brexit strategy was raised throughout the interview. For those of you who do not know (and I honestly wouldn’t blame you) Labour is seeking to secure a “credible leave option” within 3 months to then put it to a referendum against remain. This “credible leave option” Labour proposes will most likely include continued membership of the Customs Union, being subject to the ECJ and continued freedom of movement. In other words, not really leaving at all. Corbyn insists he, personally, would remain neutral to act as an honest broker and because, in this scenario, he’d be Prime Minister. It appears that what Corbyn lacks in common sense, he compensates for in his self-confidence. However, like many people who have had the misfortune of having Labour’s Brexit plan explained to them, Neil clearly outlines the blatant and various flaws with it: Why is it right that the PM remain silent on one of the most important issues of the post-war age? Who will lead the campaign in favour of the deal? The likes of Boris and Farage. This segment of Neil’s interview was not so much the uncovering of previously overlooked shortcomings, but rather a reminder to us all how, even after 3 years, the Labour Party still has no real answer to the greatest challenge of our time.
And of course, like taxes under a Labour government, the issue of spending was raised to the detriment of us all. The topic that took up the largest portion of the interview, ranged from Labour’s proposed tax increases and how they would, despite repeated claims to the contrary, hit people earning as little as £14,000, as well as their plans for nationalisation and the eye-watering £200 billion of debt that would be created as a result. This of course excluding the almost Neil also highlighted that the top 0.1% of earners contribute 1/8th of all income tax – the primary source of government revenue; meaning that to substantially increase taxes on these earners will likely incentivise them to move money out of the country, having significant repercussions for funding. Naturally, Corbyn had no real answer and his attempts to provide one amounted to nothing more than unfounded denial of a very real prospect. In addition to this, Labour has now committed to compensating the WASPI women with £60 billion from government reserves – £60 billion in government reserves we don’t have, as well as no real guarantee that his government would should restraint when borrowing. In terms of his general attitude throughout the interview, Corbyn, when asked questions regarding Labour’s spending plans, seemed more concerned with explaining why he subscribes to the economic philosophy that he does, as opposed to explaining how it will work or be of any practical benefit to anyone. Then again, I am not sure it comes as a surprise to many that Corbyn’s commitment to the creation of socialist economy outranks his desire to improve the lives of those he professes to be so concerned with.
In addition to this, it appears Corbyn is equally keen on undermining our national security as well as our economic security. As if it wasn’t clear enough from his track-record of cosy-ing up to terrorists, or as Neil notes, to the likes of Galtieri and Putin, Corbyn’s reluctance to make any form of commitment to take out known terrorist threats was visible for all to see. Instead, he proposed hopelessly impractical suggestions such as attempting to arrest armed, foreign hostiles behind enemy lines. Rather than talk specifics, he spoke in generalities about acting appropriately, the importance of international law, and constantly tried to change the subject – to climate change, to inequality and to irrelevant (albeit not always unfounded) foreign-policy shortcomings of the West. It’s needless to say that if Corbyn was as willing to deflect terrorist attacks as he was questions, Britain would be the safest nation on Earth.
I imagine we all have, in some capacity, a scepticism of politicians. However, I think it is fair to say that many (myself included) are not so much sceptical of Corbyn, as we are staunchly certain, especially after that interview, that he is a national disaster waiting to be elected.