Sanders Supporters Shouldn’t Sympathize with Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn isn’t a British version of Bernie Sanders. He is far more radical than the Democrat.

Labour's Jeremy Corbyn talks with reporters outside Parliament in London, England, June 11, 2008
Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn talks with reporters outside Parliament in London, England, June 11, 2008 (Flickr/Jasn)

As Americans try to make sense of what is happening in British politics, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is sometimes compared for convenience with Democratic Party candidate Bernie Sanders, another leftwinger.

There are similarities. Both are old men who appeal mostly to disillusioned millennials. Both are to the left of their parties. And both are refusing to give up when it’s obvious to everyone else that they’ve lost.

But dig a little deeper and you’ll find significant differences that should give Bernie Sanders’ supporters pause.

A real socialist

Sanders calls himself a democratic socialist but is really a social democrat. His policies — universal health care, debt-free (not actually free) college tuition, higher taxes on the rich, tougher regulation of businesses — are all pretty mainstream in Europe.

Corbyn really is a socialist.

Britain already has universal health care, so there’s little to fight for there. Except Corbyn attacks even the smallest steps to liberalization of the cherished National Health Service (which, like Medicaid and Medicare in the United States, is hugely expensive, bureaucratic and in dire need of reform).

Corbyn actually does support free college education. He wants to get rid of the tuition fees that were introduced under the last Conservative-led government.

He doesn’t just support higher taxes on the wealthy or tougher regulations; he calls for a comprehensive redistribution of wealth and wants to renationalize industries.

The company you keep

If that isn’t radical enough, consider this: Sanders is a dove, but Corbyn is a pacifist. He has opposed every single British military engagement since he was elected to Parliament in 1983. He opposes nuclear weapons. He even opposed them at the height of the Cold War, when the Soviet Union had missiles pointing at Britain.

Despite this, Corbyn has never got around to condemning the terrorist violence that was carried out by Irish republicans in the 1980s. Instead of allying with the left-wing and Irish nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party, Corbyn chose to affiliate himself with Sinn Féin and the Provisional IRA, both of which endorsed violence to bring about a unification of Ireland.

If you want to learn more about Corbyn’s shameful associations during the Northern Irish Troubles, read this post by Alex Massie in The Spectator.

Corbyn’s questionable sympathies don’t end there. He also has a blindspot to antisemitism.

When he was still a backbencher, Corbyn hosted representatives of Hamas and Hezbollah in London, saying it was his “honor and pleasure” to have such “friends” with him.

Corbyn has defended those invitations by saying all sides need to be heard in a peace process. Except neither Hamas nor Hezbollah is interested in peace. They exist to destroy Israel and kill Jews.

It’s not something they hide. They are quite explicit about it.

And if Corbyn was interested in hearing “all sides”, then why didn’t he talk to any Israeli representatives?

Find someone else

Dear Sanders supporters, this is not a man you want on your side.

If you are looking for a Labourite to support, consider Angela Eagle. She’s a former trade unionist and cabinet minister who could soon replace Corbyn as leader. She’s also only the second openly lesbian member of Britain’s Parliament.

Or take a look at Dan Jarvis, a former Parachute Regiment commander who served in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Sierra Leone.

Or Hilary Benn, the former shadow foreign secretary and a champion of internationalism.

Or Sadiq Khan, the recently-elected mayor of London, who made an impassioned plea for Britain to stay in the EU despite criticism from Corbyn’s allies.

There are plenty of brave men and women in the Labour Party leftwingers can admire and respect. Corbyn isn’t one of them.


  1. This journalist does not have a clue. If he does not agree with talking to “terrorists” to find out what makes them tick, I wonder what he suggests we do, to sort out some of the worst problems that exist in the world, the problems that cause the “terrorism” in the first place. The Northern Ireland peace came about through dialogue. Not by exterminating the people who were being done down by the political system in Northern Ireland – has Nick Ottens got the slightest idea of the details of the treatment of Catholics in Northern Ireland in the middle of the 20th century?? The jews who arrived in Israel had faced extraordinary discrimination in Europe, up until the point they began to be exterminated. So one has huge sympathy for them. But the Palestinians who lived there for the previous 1000+ years absolutely did not deserve what happened to them. Anybody with 2 brain cells to run together can see why “terrorism” is so attractive to the completely powerless disenfranchised poor of Palestine – and it is intimately connected with the very existence of Israel. You may ponder the strong possibility that they are in fact the descendants of the original jews who lived in Palestine in the mid 7th century, who got forcibly converted to Islam. Such is life.

    Nobody on this earth chose their parents. Or their country. Or their culture. Or their religion. Or their race. Or their school. Or their teachers.

    You would have thought that the “Chief Editor” of the Atlantic Sentinel would know all this. Sadly, his ignorance is profound. And it is not his fault. Because he did not choose how his own brain was “patterned” by his early life experience. His parents did not choose either, because we are all a product of chance and nature.

    So, get talking to “terrorists”, who are real people. Really understand their grievances. And do something about them. Anybody know the actual details of the “Good Friday Agreement”? No? I still have not met anybody who does. There are some very simple (and very important) tweaks of the anglo saxon political system that make it work. And absolutely no information about it. Not on wikipedia. The BBC. TV or Radio. Our national press. Our political magazines. Zilch.

    Written in Sutton Courtenay, UK – where George Orwell is buried. Come on George, get up and do something about this …

  2. No need for all the insults, George. Let’s not make the mistake of assuming the other person is “ignorant” because we disagree with him.

    I’m not saying one musn’t talk to terrorists. (I’m not sure it’s always helpful either, but it’s worth trying, I suppose.)

    I do see a difference, though, between talking on the one hand and inviting them to Parliament and calling them your “friends” on the other.

    Especially when, as I wrote in the article, Corbyn has never made a similar outreach to representatives of the state of Israel.

    In the case of Northern Ireland, it seems — similarly — he was only interested in “talking” with one side and not the other.

    Frankly, I find that all a bit suspect.

  3. America was founded through revolution and those of either spectrum love a good dose of revolutionary appeal. Sanders is sufficiently revolutionary leftist enough for neoliberal America, for American millennials to adore. Move across the pond, and the spectrum shifts left as a whole. None of the Labourites seem far leftist enough to have the revolutionary appeal that Sandernistas crave.

  4. those of either spectrum love a good dose of revolutionary appeal

    Yes, and that’s why they’re extremists.

    You throw this word “revolution” around as though you don’t understand what it means. Your revolution worked out pretty well. Most of them don’t. Most of them involve a lot of violence, suffering and typically make the situation worse, at least in the short term, than it was before.

  5. Hell, we even had an attempted second revolution, a bloody civil war, a sorrowful struggle between brother against brother, the violent repercussions which are still felt to this very day, and we still fetishize the imagery of revolution with overwhelming firepower each and every Independence Day. U-S-A! U-S-A!

Leave a reply