Divided on Corbyn
“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.