Several people remain ill – three seriously – following a Novichok nerve agent attack in Salisbury aimed at British spy Sergei Skripal. (Skripal was targetted because he received payment from the British state to expose Russian agents operating in NATO countries.)
Yesterday, responding to some speculative comments on the incident by Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn rightly raised the issue of Tory MPs being beneficiaries of large sums of money from the Russian state and the state’s associates. The Tories have actively enabled the oligarchs of organised crime who run Russia to launder billions via tax-dodging purchases of property and businesses in the UK, especially in London. It was refreshing to hear an opposition leader raise this appalling history of obsequiousness and deference toward criminals by the Tories.
The opponents of Corbyn’s politics have used the nerve agent attack as a spurious opportunity to criticise and abuse him. Their opportunism is an insult to those people who are ill as a result of the nerve agent. It is indicative of how fearful they are of the growing popularity of left-leaning politics that the right-wingers are comfortable to use such a worrying incident as a tool to attack the integrity of Corbyn. Tory MPs, right-wing journalists, “centrist” journalists, Progress MPs and right-wing think-tanks all trotted out similar nonsense. It has been very predictable, repetitive and neon-lit demonstration of their fear.
The criticism of Corbyn yesterday was uniformly dishonest, weak and lacking variety. It consisted solely of an absurd claim that he should be falling into line and not questioning the government at all. His critics promoted a lack of scrutiny of the government; thus, they displayed opposition to free speech. The greatest scrutiny of any government should occur when there is a threat to the country but the right-wingers want obsequious servitude.
There was nothing else to the attacks on Corbyn. There were a lot of circular comments that criticised him by claiming someone else is criticising him.
Below are a few examples (from Monday and Tuesday).
The Minister of State for International Trade, Greg Hands MP, chose to lie about what Corbyn said in parliament and then Hands praised the childish behaviour of his Tory colleagues.
Corbyn had, of course, condemned the attack. He said “the whole House condemns the suspected poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. No member of our police force and nobody on the streets of Britain should ever face such an attack, let alone with chemical weapons.”
Anna Soubry restricted herself to a few insults at Corbyn and revealed how little fear the Tories have for the Progress Labour MPs.
Johnny Mercer, one of the Tory Bratboys in Parliament, chose to pretend to believe that Corbyn’s reference to Russian criminals’ corruption of the Tory party was “the most shameful moment in the House of Commons he has ever seen.”
The Progress MPs were less keen to make their remarks outside the location where parliamentary privilege applies. Also, their criticism of Corbyn wasn’t direct and dodged mentioning him by name.
John Woodcock: “It would put our national security at risk if we were led by somebody who did not understand the threat that Russia poses to our nation.”
Chris Leslie: “When our country is under attack scoring party political points [Corbyn mentioning Russian corruption of the Tories] is not appropriate.”
Yvette Cooper: “I hope the whole house can come together behind a firm response.”
Right-wing and centrist journalists
For right-wing journalists, it was just another day of willful misrepresentation, insults and abuse directed at Corbyn and his colleagues. The right-wing hacks don’t care about the victims of the nerve agent attack. For them, anything is used as a tool to attack left-wing politics. They have no integrity and no principles.
It is very credible that Deborah Haynes, defence editor at Murdoch’s Times, would try to score political points against Corbyn.
Political Editor at the Daily Mail, Jason Groves, continued the faux dramatic response to Corbyn’s important point about Russian criminals’ corruption of the Tories.
Kevin Schofield, former Murdoch hack at The Sun and now the willing mouthpiece for Progress MPs who are too cowardly to express themselves openly, passed on several rectal emissions from his unnamed sources including
He also channelled the ghost of Jim Bowen.
Schofield could have expressed agreement with the comments above by the SNP politicians without using them as an excuse to attack Corbyn, but it’s his job to attack Corbyn,
Sebastian Payne from the Financial Times, gathered several themes of nonsense in one comment.
Payne chose to make the discussion in parliament about the nerve agent attack into a moment for point scoring. He was aware that many more Tory politicians have appeared on Russia Today than Labour. Corbyn didn’t try to make the discussion into a “partisan issue.” A foreign state may have attacked a British spy but that is not the same as “attacking the UK.” The only parts of Payne’s comment that were correct were the punctuation and spelling.
Dia Chakravarty from the Telegraph (and formerly at Tax-Payers’ Alliance) made a plaintive plea that the useless Progress mob could acquire some worth. They can’t.
Bloomberg’s Robert Hutton used a convoluted route to accuse Corbyn of not disapproving of the nerve agent attack. Hutton’s technique was self-aware childishness.
Ian Dunt was invisible until after the EU referendum in 2016. Since then, his agent has been able to wrangle continuous gigs for Dunt on TV and radio. Dunt’s selling point as a performer is that he supports remaining in the EU but he has neither the knowledge nor the wit to present that argument informatively; he is to intelligent presentation of the Remain argument what James Corden is to comedy. He threw out a few comments entirely in line with what the right-wing hacks had offered.
The most prominent right-wing think-tanks choose to keep their donors secret. Perhaps, they get zero from the Russian and Russian-connected financial gangsters? They won’t say.
The imperialist think-tank Henry Jackson Society‘s Alan Mendoza claimed dramatically that the government should be excused criticism.
“We should be united in response to this assault” is an attack on democracy and free speech. It is vital when any military or military-style attack takes place that the government should receive scrutiny, but Mendoza asked for obedience.
Human Security Centre‘s Julie Lenarz employed the usual right-wing con-trick of saying other people are “shocked, outraged and repulsed.”
“Our enemies?“ I’m confident that the Human Security Centre is my enemy.
Tom Harris, from “public affairs consultancy” 3rd Avenue Comms, pretended that he thought Corbyn had made a misjudgment.
“Public affairs consultancy” translates as childishly conning people.
The tweets and quotes above are a selection of the critical remarks aimed at Corbyn yesterday and today. These comments are noteworthy for their lack of substance and lack of variety.