Corbyn’s Spy Career, Catalan Language War

Jeremy Corbyn met with Czech agents during the Cold War. Spain restarts the Catalan language war.

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn meets with in Highbury, North London, January 8
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn meets with in Highbury, North London, January 8 (Catholic Church England and Wales)

The Sun reports that, as a freshman parliamentarian, Jeremy Corbyn was targeted for recruitment by the Czech secret police in 1986 and met at least three times with an intelligence officer posing as a diplomat.

Corbyn says he never knowingly consorted with an East Bloc agent, but John Schindler, an intelligence expert, points out that only one year before the Labour politician was approached, Britain had expelled 25 Soviet “diplomats” who were really KGB officers “and the high-profile case got nonstop coverage in the British media.”

For Corbyn not to have considered the possibility he might be meeting with a spy would have been incredibly naive.

Moreover, Czech human rights abuses under communism were well-known even at the time. What was Corbyn thinking?

Corbyn, I’m sure, will argue it’s important to hear both sides. That’s what he said when he was asked to defend inviting Hamas and Hezbollah representatives to London in 2009. Except he never invited or met with Israeli representatives, just as he didn’t seek meetings with American officials during the Cold War.

Corbyn has a long history of instinctively siding with enemies of his country and the West, from Irish republican terrorists to Fidel Castro to Hugo Chávez to Muammar Gaddafi. Michael J. Totten wrote a good overview in The Atlantic last year. That’s what makes the Czech spy story, despite coming from the notoriously sensationalist The Sun, so believable.

Spain restarts Catalan language war

Never underestimate the Spanish government’s ability to shoot itself in the foot when it comes to Catalonia.

A couple of days ago, I argued that a proposal from the liberal Citizens party to ban the Catalan language requirement in the public sector was unlikely to go anywhere, because national parties would be foolish to aggravate relations with the province.

Clearly I let hope triumph over experience. Spain did, after all, suspend Catalonia’s self-government and sent in riot police to break up the October 1 referendum, neither of which was the politically smart thing to do.

Now El País reports that the Spanish education minister, Iñigo Méndez de Vigo — who is temporarily in charge of Catalan schools so long as the region remains under direct rule — is considering allowing Catalan parents to choose Castilian Spanish as the primary language in which their children are educated.

Both Catalan and Spanish are currently taught in Catalan schools, but teachers may choose in which language they teach non-language courses.

Méndez de Vigo’s predecessor, José Ignacio Wert, infamously expressed a desire to “hispanicize Catalan students” in 2012 and make them “just as proud to be Spanish as to be Catalan” — comments that have not been forgotten here.

No solution yet for Irish border

The Financial Times reports there is no solution in sight to the Irish border question.

The EU and the Irish republic do not believe technology and trusted trader schemes, as proposed by the United Kingdom, would be sufficient to avoid customs controls.

Short of a compromise, Britain has committed to keep Northern Ireland in full regulatory alignment with the EU in order to avoid the return of a hard border.

But that would infuriate Theresa May’s allies in the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, who want to keep the province in full alignment with the rest of the kingdom.