The recent rise of Labour in the polls has sent the Establishment into panic mode. Their new strategy is to smear Corbyn with accusations that he is “soft” on terrorism and had “sympathy” for the IRA. As Ben Curry explains, however, a look back at history shows that it is the Tories who are the real terrorist sympathisers.
The sudden rise of Labour in the polls following the manifesto leak – and the decline in support for the Tories following a litany of PR-disasters and U-turns – has lead to panic in ruling class circles and demand for a new strategy. This new strategy is to send the smear campaign against Corbyn into overdrive, as aptly demonstrated by the Evening Standard headline, “Tories tear into Jeremy Corbyn after Labour buoyed by polls boost”.
The big smear that the ruling class have rallied around: that Corbyn was for years an IRA sympathiser – that he sides with terrorists and is an enemy of the people.
Sky News lead the charge on this “controversy” by bringing to light Corbyn’s meetings with IRA members in the 1980’s and calling on him to condemn the IRA’s violence. Corbyn clearly condemned all bombings throughout this period. But this was not enough for the hyenas in the media and the Establishment.
Next came Tory security minister, Ben Wallace, who claimed to be “outraged” that Corbyn had apparently not been “unequivocal” enough in his condemnation of the IRA bombings. The Tories were joined by Arlene Foster of the DUP, who launched an apparently unironic attack of her own on Corbyn: “[he] is beyond the political Pale. It is hard to take seriously the democratic credentials of a man who was so close to the political representatives of the IRA at the height of the Troubles.”
The Sun topped things off with the vilest act of cynicism. Only 90 minutes after the terrorist attack at Manchester Arena this Murdoch rag decided to lead on their website with the headline, “The harm done by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell sucking up to the IRA – Labour pair were sniveling IRA fanboys as it unleashed slaughter on Britain”. The morning paper then went with a screaming headline, “BLOOD ON HIS HANDS”, accompanied by a picture of Corbyn. The timing shows the real gutter-level depths to which the Establishment media are prepared to dive. As millions woke to the traumatic news that 22 people had been slaughtered in a senseless bomb attack, the Sun sought to make political capital for the Tories out of the incident.
Self-described “One Nation Tory”, Jeremy Paxman, followed this up with a bullying performance on the live leaders Q&A last night. Again the same accusations were trotted out – and a few others about the Falklands, the Monarchy and the “war on terror” were thrown in for good measure.
Cynicism and hypocrisy
These charges by the ruling class are becoming a familiar feature in today’s world. In Spain, the Spanish ruling class and the right-wing Popular Party have sought to tar the left-wing leaders of Podemos with similar accusations of sympathy for ETA, the Basque nationalist organisation.
What makes these smears stick in one’s throat is not just their cynicism, but their utter hypocrisy. Whilst Corbyn met with politicians from both sides of the conflict in Ireland – in his own words, to promote the peace process – the Tories did the same in secret meetings going back to the 1980s.
Furthermore the Tory leadership went far beyond mere “sympathy” for terrorism. If the Establishment wish to dredge up recent history for political gain, let us look at the full facts. It is worth noting that the right-wing media are extremely ticklish when Corbyn condemns “all sides” in The Troubles. The reason is obvious: Tory leaders and governments have actively sponsored, armed and colluded with paramilitaries in Ireland for more than a century.
Tory collusion with terrorists
The history of Tory collaboration with paramilitary organisations goes back over a century to their financing of the Ulster Volunteers in 1913, with the direct participation of Tory leader, Law Bonar, and the organisation of the “Black and Tans” – the brainchild of another future Tory leader, Winston Churchill.
We do not have to go back as far as Churchill to find evidence of Tory collaboration with terrorists in Ireland, however. The Tories accuse Corbyn of sympathising with terrorists during The Troubles. This despite the fact that active collaboration with loyalist terrorists was a part of Tory policy throughout the same period!
Such collusion between Tory administrations and loyalist groupings go right back to the early 1970s. At the beginning of The Troubles the state gave full legal scope to the Unionist Defence Association (UDA) to organise paramilitary units consisting of tens of thousands of members in the North of Ireland. It was well known to the government that there was a large crossover between the UDA, and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and the Army’s Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR). Indeed, some have suggested between 5-15% of UDR members were also members of the UDA and huge quantities of military equipment were channeled into the UDA through this mechanism.
Throughout the 1970s and 80s these well-armed loyalist paramilitary groups, as well as armed Republican groups, were thoroughly infiltrated by agents of the army, intelligence services and the RUC Special Branch. Through these links the state was able to control and direct acts of reprisal, assassinations, and sectarian mass murder and bombings to its own ends. Subsequent revelations have shown the extent of this collaboration (see the RTÉ One documentary, Collusion, which documents this). British agents, on the payroll of HM Government, were directly involved in a whole number of terrorist attacks including the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, the Miami Showband massacre, as well as numerous pub bombings and murders.
Information regarding collusion between the British state and paramilitaries was brought directly to the attention of then Tory Prime Minister, Ted Heath, by his counterpart in Ireland, Jack Lynch. What did the did he do about this collusion? They denied it had ever taken place, did nothing to put a stop to it, and continued to allow the UDA to operate legally until well into the 1990’s.
Under Thatcher this collusion and infiltration of loyalist militias for the purpose of guiding and selecting targets for assassinations and bombings was stepped up. In 1985 the British Army even sent in one of its agents, Brian Nelson, to the UDA. In a short space of time he would climb to become the UDA’s main intelligence officer – from which position the British could filter almost all the UDA’s intelligence and enemies of the state could be picked out for assassination.
A particularly grim example was the killing of Pat Finucane. Finucane was not and never had been a member of the IRA. He was, however, a human rights lawyer pursuing the government over its “shoot to kill” policy. MI5 and the RUC Special Branch began a concerted campaign of smears linking him to the IRA in 1989. Tory politicians played their part too, with Douglas Hogg MP denouncing lawyers who are “unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA” in the House of Commons. Weeks later Finucane was murdered, with the advance knowledge of MI5 and the RUC, by a police informant and UDA member.
The highest echelons of the Tory Party were perfectly aware about these happenings and did nothing. The former head of Special Branch, Raymond White, even asked Thatcher personally to give Special Branch a legal framework for its dirty war. No response was forthcoming. In the aforementioned documentary, Collusion, White concurred with his interviewer when he described the lack of any response from Thatcher as a “carry on but don’t get caught” attitude.
Far from being a historic issue, the question of collusion and its subsequent cover-up has continued down to the current day. After Blair promised the Finucane family that a public enquiry into the Finucane murder would be carried out, David Cameron subsequently reneged on these promises citing that there were, “people in buildings all around here [i.e. 10 Downing Street] who won’t let it happen”. All arrows point towards a conscious policy of collusion and a cover-up that goes to the heart of the Establishment and to the top of the Tory Party.
A history of filth and blood
Such stories of collusion and direct sponsorship of terrorism by the Tory government and its leading representatives could be multiplied a thousandfold the world over. Ireland is only one of the nearest examples. All of this is to say nothing of the infiltration of the PIRA by forces of the state and the secret links and contacts between Tory politicians and the PIRA and Sinn Féin long before the peace process began.
We should add to this the arms sales to Saudi Arabia by the current Tory administration, the biggest sponsor of Islamist terrorist outfits in the world today; and the intervention of the Tory government in the civil wars in Libya and Syria on the side of the same Islamist groups that are committing terrorist atrocities far from their original field of battle.
The Conservative Party is mired in all the blood of Britain’s imperialist history down to the present day. As the ruling class have seen fit to dust off these events for their own political ends, it is only fitting that their own culpability is brought fully into the light of day.
As the actions of their Establishment counterparts in Spain and elsewhere demonstrates, however, such smear campaigns are acts of desperation by parties that are fast exhausting their social and political capital. They signify a turn in the mood in society whereby the lies and false promises of the ruling class have become subject to the law of diminishing returns.
Following the atrocity in Manchester, both Labour and the Tories officially ceased political campaigning out of respect for the victims. This would be true except for the fact that the right-wing media have not paused for so much as a second and have even stepped up their campaigning for the Tories and their attacks on Corbyn. In doing so they have shown the real ugly face of the British ruling class.
In the coming days everything must be thrown into exposing the interests that the Tory Party represent and preparing the ground for a socialist Labour government. Then we can finally put an end to this rotten system that the Tories defend, and all the horrors that it breeds.