Di­vided on Cor­byn

The Church of England - - COMMENT -

“If we want to send a mes­sage to the Nasty Party and New Labour clones that Westminster pol­i­tics must change, now is a good time”. So tweeted the Bishop of Willes­den, Pete Broadbent, an­nounc­ing sup­port for Jeremy Cor­byn. What is in­ter­est­ing about his tweet is that it sug­gests it is moral to op­pose the Tories (‘the Nasty Party’) and New Labour (‘clones’) and sup­port Cor­byn. But how moral is Cor­byn? Nigel Biggar for one ques­tions his eth­i­cal stan­dards. Writ­ing in The Times he crit­i­cised Cor­byn’s apol­ogy for the Iraq War and the re­moval of Sad­dam’s ap­pallingly cruel and op­pres­sive regime. Oth­ers have high­lighted Cor­byn’s sym­pa­thy for Putin’s ho­mo­pho­bic regime in Rus­sia, his state­ment on Ira­nian tele­vi­sion that 9/11 and the death of Osama bin Laden were ‘equiv­a­lent tragedies’, his readi­ness to ap­pear on the same plat­form as holo­caust-de­niers and anti-Semites, and his sup­port for the Rev Stephen Sizer as ev­i­dence of a lack of moral sense as well as po­lit­i­cal wis­dom. The truth is that Cor­byn does not de­serve the high moral ground but he has been handed this po­si­tion by de­fault by po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents who have kept ar­gu­ing that he was ‘un­electable’ and would lead Labour into the po­lit­i­cal wilder­ness. That may well be true but it is a pity that the same op­po­nents did not chal­lenge a stance that is eth­i­cally naive as well as naive about eco­nom­ics. Among church lead­ers, only Nigel Biggar again had the courage to step into the gap.

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