Even if they disagree with his politics, Jeremy Corbyn’s parliamentary colleagues, such as Douglas Carswell from the UK Independence Party (UKIP), acknowledge that he is a nice, down-to-earth fellow; certainly not one of his party’s grandees. Unpretentious, rarely seen wearing a suit and a tie, he’s also been one of the most parsimonious MPs, claiming only the bare minimum needed to sustain the office in his constituency in North London.
There is something almost endearing about the sincere, old-school leftism of the Labour candidate for leadership, reminiscent of Bernie Sanders. Like one of the Japanese imperial soldiers found on a Pacific island decades after the Second World War, Corbyn comes across as someone from a slightly different era, fighting battles that most think are over.
He wants, for example, the Bank of England to jeopardize its mandate and directly finance investment in new homes and infrastructure projects. He advocates re-nationalizing the railways, postal service, and the six large energy providers -- British Gas, SSE, Eon, Npower, Scottish Power and EDF. To curb excessive executive pay, he believes the UK should introduce a ‘maximum wage.’
But Corbyn’s economic illiteracy pales in comparison to some of his foreign policy views and the friends he keeps. It goes without saying that he thinks that the conflict in Ukraine is a result of NATO’s “belligerence,” that he appears frequently on Russia Today, and that he is widely quoted by Putinist propagandist sites.
He also hosted the show ‘Comment’, on Press TV, the channel of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In 2009, Corbyn welcomed Dyab Abou Jahjah to the UK’s Parliament. Jahjah is a political activist and publisher who became known for publishing, in 2006, a series of cartoons poking fun at the Holocaust. As late as 2013, Corbyn attended events organized by Paul Eisen, at that time known as an outspoken Holocaust denier. In 2012, he hosted the hate preacher Raed Salah at the House of Commons. In a sermon two years later, Salah—whom Corbyn had called a “very honored citizen” and invited him for tea—expressed hope that Jerusalem would soon become “the capital of the global caliphate.“
Corbyn also came publicly to the defense of Stephen Sizer, an Anglican vicar who, as he put it, “dared to speak out against Zionism.” In February this year, Sizer was banned by Church authorities from using social media after he suggested on Facebook that Israel was responsible for 9/11.
The shared affection for Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas—“an organization that is dedicated towards the good of the Palestinian people,” according to Corbyn—the numerous ties with anti-Semites and sympathy for the Kremlin would normally place Corbyn in the company of Hungary’s Jobbik and Europe’s other far-right extremists. What is shocking is the double standard with which Corbyn’s supporters are viewing his, shall we say, “eccentricities.”