Corbynistas have taken to social media to defend their hero in the face of a fairly relentless right-wing onslaught on the topic of the Labour leader’s refusal to say a single bad thing about Maduro and his regime. When pushed by the press to condemn the Venezuelan leadership, Corbyn said:
“What I condemn is the violence that’s been done by any side, by all sides, in all this. Violence is not going to solve the issue.”
This is classic Corbyn. Yes, Maduro may be doing bad stuff – but so are the opposition. We should just stay out of it and let them resolve it all themselves, right?
“I gave the support of many people around the world for the principle of a government that was dedicated towards reducing inequality and improving the life chances of the poorest people.”
Given that last, very recent quote, it might be good to review briefly what Corbyn has said in the recent past regarding Venezuela.
“Chavez was a very important figure worldwide because he was prepared to use his position to argue for a different world order.”
“Chavez showed us that there is a different and a better way of doing things. It’s called socialism, it’s called social justice and it’s something that Venezuela has made a big step towards.”
One of the tropes the Corbynistas have been using to deflect from Corbyn’s inability to condemn Maduro has been a false comparison with Saudi Arabia. Britain is on friendly relations with the Saudis, and Saudi Arabia is a repressive hell pit, so why doesn’t Theresa May get put under the same pressure to condemn Saudi Arabia? This is a straw man – whatever the pluses and minuses of Britain’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, Theresa May has never said the following:
“The Saudi royal family have shown us that there is a different and better way of doing things. It’s called Wahhabism, it’s called sharia law and Saudi Arabia has used its position to argue for a different world order.”
You see, that’s the equivalent here. Being on friendly terms with a repressive regime is bad, I grant you that, and we can have a discussion about the Saudis if you like; it is a whole other thing to claim that the Saudi model is better than Britain’s, and that we should try and make the UK more like Saudi Arabia. Because that is what Jeremy Corbyn has done again and again with Venezuela.
The Left has gone so far as to mock the calls for Corbyn to speak out, comparing it to shouts for him to denounce Toblerones or other things equally anodyne. Why is what’s happening in Venezuela funny to them, stepping beyond the Corbyn issue for a moment? I despair.