Prescott is right to point out hypocrisy of Corbyn's dishonest critics – and the left must challenge these pernicious attacks on Venezuela
FULL marks to John Prescott for exposing the hypocrisy of Labour’s back-bench anti-Corbyn faction in choosing Venezuela as the issue through which to destabilise the party leadership.
The former deputy prime minister queried in a tweet what Graham Jones, Angela Smith and John Spellar have in common and answered his own question as follows:
“Hate Corbyn. Joined new APPG [all-party parliamentary group] on Venezuela. Never raised Venezuela in House.”
Prescott could have added Frank Field who has also jumped on the bandwagon, insisting that the Labour leader must be “robust” in defending freedoms as though that has not been Corbyn’s trademark before and since his election to Parliament.
Corbyn has had the backbone to stand up for his principles when many colleagues settled for a quiet life, nodding through overseas wars, support for despotic monarchies and cruel cuts to welfare benefits.
His calm but firm dedication to principle informs his refusal to be stampeded into a similar one-sided approach to the situation in Venezuela as that adopted by Jones, Smith, Spellar, Field and their ilk.
These latter-day experts, who have never previously uttered a parliamentary syllable on Venezuela, are not alone in slating Corbyn. Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable, International Development Minister Priti Patel and the Tory media stand proudly beside them.
The Sun berated him for “weasel words.” For the Daily Mail his words were “limp,” while The Telegraph accused of him of recourse to “post-truth.”
Corbyn’s crime was to be “very sad” about lives lost in Venezuela in recent months and to condemn violence committed “by any side.”
This is because the Tory mouthpieces, aided and abetted by Labour’s anyone but Corbyn zealots, would have us believe the myth that the government is solely responsible for all violence in Venezuela.
Newsnight presenter Evan Davis allowed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Andres Mejia to get away with this claim on Monday night.
The Popular Will national director declared: “Violence has not been done by both sides. Violence has been promoted by the government” without challenge from Davis.
Encouraged, Mejia added: “They have armed paramilitary groups that have taken the lives of hundreds of people in Venezuela,” even though general consensus puts the death toll associated with violent street protests called by the opposition this year at just over 100.
Barely 20 of these have been ascribed to security forces and individuals implicated have been arrested and charged.
How can Davis allow Mejia to perpetuate the lie that the opposition, with his party at its heart, has played no role in the violence?
International media coverage reveals street barricades manned by young men, some carrying firearms, others slingshots, petrol bombs and other improvised weapons.
Police motorcyclists were targeted by a roadside bomb, there was an armed raid on a military base and, before that, a helicopter-borne gun-and-grenade attack on the Supreme Court.
Has Davis not noticed these incidents? Were they not pointed out by researchers? Or is it simply that anything goes for an agenda of besmirching both Corbyn and Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution?
In what other country would the BBC and other media ignore such a catalogue of violence to pretend that Venezuela presents itself as a confrontation between a brutal dictatorship and a peaceful democratic opposition?
Labour’s Blairite hangovers have thrown their hand in with media circles obsessed with undermining the party. It’s their choice and they may answer for it.