Unlike many on the Right, I do not have a visceral loathing of Jeremy Corbyn. Indeed, many times in this column I have defended him.
Above all, this has been because I have believed that the grizzled old Leftie MP for North Islington is a refreshing contrast to the cynical and deceitful politics of Tony Blair and New Labour.
During Blair’s decade as PM, spin, manipulation and downright lying were everyday facts of political life. There was, too, a superficiality in his approach to serious issues.
Jeremy Corbyn, by contrast, is a man of sincere — if terribly flawed — beliefs.
The grizzled old Leftie MP for North Islington is a refreshing contrast to the cynical and deceitful politics of Tony Blair and New Labour
He has been especially courageous on foreign policy. I believe he was right to oppose the Iraq war, which created bloodshed and chaos across the Middle East and led to the rise of Islamic State.
He wisely opposed Blair’s earlier Afghan misadventure, which led to the unnecessary loss of so many British and Afghan lives. Again, he was vindicated as one of only a dozen MPs who voted against Cameron’s catastrophic decision to intervene in Libya and oust Colonel Gaddafi.
I also strongly admire the way he has stood up for Palestinian rights — an unpopular stance at Westminster.
All that said, Corbyn has behaved with grotesquely bad judgment in other areas. Above all, he has spent his entire political life supporting terrorist groups and governments hostile to the UK and our allies.
He has been especially courageous on foreign policy. I believe he was right to oppose the Iraq war, which created bloodshed and chaos across the Middle East and led to the rise of Islamic State
He was wrong to meet leaders of the IRA, with blood on their hands from years of the murders of innocent men, women and children. Corbyn’s defence was that it was important to maintain links with the IRA. After all, Blair followed suit. He was also wrong to meet with the Middle Eastern terror group Hamas.
Now, yet again, Corbyn is embroiled in a major controversy. Every day this week, there has been shocking new proof of Labour’s descent into the cesspit of anti-Semitism.
But then, I’m afraid, the ineluctable truth is that accusations of anti-Semitism have been directed at Corbyn ever since he became Labour leader.
For my part, I admit, I felt that some of these claims were overplayed. For example, I believed Corbyn could not be held personally responsible for an incident at Labour’s conference last year, when an Israeli-American author, at a fringe meeting, compared Zionists to Nazis and suggested it was legitimate to question whether the Holocaust took place.
Also, I felt some of Corbyn’s critics were confounding abhorrent anti-Semitism with criticism of the policies of the current Israeli government. Nor did I accept that Corbyn himself was anti-Semitic. I regarded him as a man who was passionately opposed to all kinds of racism and was a fighter — albeit sometimes very naive — for social justice.
This week, with a heavy heart, I changed my mind. I’m now convinced that there is something detestable about Corbyn’s politics which make it impossible to defend him any more.
Among several examples, the first concerned Christine Shawcroft, Labour’s head of discipline who was forced to resign after it emerged that she had defended a Labour councillor accused of sharing an article on Facebook which claimed the Holocaust was a ‘hoax’. This proves that the poison of anti-Semitism has spread into the heart of the Corbyn Labour Party.
All that said, Corbyn has behaved with grotesquely bad judgment in other areas
We also learnt that Corbyn himself has been a member of five online groups which have propagated anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, such as that the number of deaths at Auschwitz has been exaggerated and that Israelis have harvested the organs of Arab children. Also, they have posted links to the loathsome views of white supremacists, including the leader of the Ku Klux Klan.
Despite being a contributor to such sites, Corbyn claimed — preposterously in my view — not to have noticed such postings and continued until this week to be a member of two of these groups. But the most egregious example of Corbyn’s shameful anti-Semitism was his support for a truly disgusting mural in London portraying caricature Jewish bankers playing Monopoly on the backs of what appear to be naked slaves. Thus it depicted Jews as evil conspirators working to oppress the masses.
It was an image of which the Nazis would have been proud.
Yet Corbyn disingenuously defended it on the grounds of free speech! And this from a man who claims he wants to promote ‘a kinder, gentler politics’.
Either he was revealing shocking naivety, which, in any case, is unacceptable in a frontline politician and renders him unfit for public office. Or there is something hideously sinister about Corbyn’s core views.
What is without doubt is that he is damned by his own behaviour.
Corbyn’s dreadful lack of judgment over anti-Semitism — and his weaselly attempt at an apology this week — shows that he is unworthy to be an MP, let alone lead a great political party.
This is why I’m convinced that this week marks a tipping point for Corbyn’s career as Labour leader. We live in a country whose forebears made unimaginable sacrifices to defeat Nazism in World War II. Decent people can no longer support him.
In the past century, the Labour party made great contributions to British life. Corbyn’s behaviour means it now risks becoming a pariah organisation for as long as he is in charge.
Boldly, I shall make a set of predictions. First, morally decent MPs such as Keir Starmer and the ambitious Emily Thornberry will soon conclude that they cannot serve under Corbyn.
If that happens, I expect very many others to follow.
Then, regardless of the iron-like grip Momentum has on the party machine, I predict that Corbyn will be removed as leader of the parliamentary party. Inevitably, the party will then be engulfed in a bloody civil war, ending in a formal split.
A similar rupture happened in the 1930s during the Great Depression, when one section of the party supported the austere economic policies of the Conservatives while the other rejected them and broke away to set up Independent Labour under George Lansbury.
Labour had to wait until 1945 to form a majority government.
The situation today for Labour is far more worrying. The great danger is that the Cobynista rump turns into a fringe movement supported by the hard Left, trade unionists, disgruntled public sector workers and local councils hijacked by Momentum.
This would be a tragedy for politics. Democracy requires a forceful Opposition.
The Labour Party of Keir Hardie, Clement Attlee, Harold Wilson and Aneurin Bevin was a great party that effected huge social change and gave voice to working people. The Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn is a party of Momentum, anti-Semites and Marxists.