This week’s Prat is the Labour Leadership Candidate and MP for Islington North, Jeremy Corbyn.
Yes Jeremy, you may be the poster boy of the left, you may be the people’s champion, you may or not be the most invigorating positive force that British politics has seen for a generation, but if you are to become leader of the Labour party, you are going to have to cut out the moments of pratishness.
Like last week.
Throughout this campaign, Corbyn’s been dogged by allegations that he has befriended and supported various wide eyed lunatics from the extremes of various debates. Personally, I’m fairly relaxed about this – until last month it was his role in life to engender debate and allow certain people to have a say that they otherwise would have been denied.
He fulfilled that role perfectly properly.
However, now things have changed for Corbyn and he can’t have it both ways – he can’t put himself forward as the honest and unspun voice of the people and conveniently forget that he has, in his time, shared a platform with a number of rather unsavoury characters.
Last week, Corbyn appeared on a phone in for Radio 4, during which he was asked if he had ever shared a platform with the Lebanese extremist and anti-semite Dyab About Jahjah, his answer was an emphatic: ‘I’ve never heard of him.’ (before, to be fair, he made a very impassioned rejection of any suggestion that he was anti-semitic). Corbyn is not so green to realise that the good people of the BBC don’t ask questions like this unless they’ve got a bit more than just hearsay or idle speculation, and lo and behold, an hour or so later, there it was, the photograph of Corbyn and Jahjah on the same stage.
Now, in my opinion the idea that Corbyn is an extremist or anti-semite is risible, but, he is a bit of a prat, because, given the position he is now in, and the possibility that he might in the next few weeks, become the leader of the opposition, he can’t issue blanket denials willy-nilly and hope that an issue will go away – if Corbyn is to be taken seriously, he’s got to do away with the prattery, fess up to some of his past stupidity and accept that, actually, in the process of being a ‘professional lefty’ over the last two decades, he has shared various stages with all manner of people he probably should have stayed away from.