Jeremy Corbyn has hit back at suggestions he has been hanging out in a rather bad crowd. The former Conservative MP Louise Mensch has dug up a press release on her blog that suggests Corbyn invited Dyab Abou Jahjah, a Lebanese extremist who once said the ‘death of every British soldier is a victory’, to speak in Parliament.
On the World at One, Corbyn responded to the accusation he invited Jahjah to speak in Parliament: ‘Sorry who? I saw the name this morning and I asked somebody who is he?’ He went to dismiss the idea that he is racist or anti-semitic:
‘My views are that the Holocaust was the most disgraceful and vile process of the history of the 20th Century if not the wider world. That has to be understood by successive generations, it has to be understood by all our children in schools. That, surely, is important.
‘The idea that I am some kind of racist or anti-Semitic person is beyond appalling, disgusting and deeply offensive. I’ve spent my life opposing racism and till my dying day I will be opposed to racism in any form.’
Corbyn, who sounded a little weary and hoarse after the long leadership campaign, did not come across as particular enthused about the idea of remaining Labour leader until the next general election:
‘We are a democratic party, and everyone who is elected to office in the party has to be accountable, including the leader, so we will see what happens.’
Or becoming Prime Minister:
‘I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t wanting and prepared to take on this position and the consequences that flow from it in the general election that follows after that.’
Given the contest has dragged on since May, it’s not surprising that Corbyn is sounding exhausted but his appearance is a reminder that he never really entered this contest to win it. He was snuck onto the ballot paper by those who ‘wanted a proper debate’ and has surprised everyone, including himself, with the success of his candidacy. If Corbyn triumphs, he will have to muster up the energy and enthusiasm to meet the expectations of his thousands of new supporters.