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Who’d trust these two to keep us safe?

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Corbyn and Abbott fall shockingly short in how they will protect the British people

Amid all the hurly-burly of a general election campaign, it is sometimes easy to forget that for the men and women who lead Her Majesty’s Government, one responsibility dwarfs all others.

As last week’s atrocity in Manchester reminded us, the first job of any government must be to keep the British people safe.

We expect that our leaders will be on our side, will always do their best to fight the extremists, and – at the very least – will never support those who want to kill us. All other considerations pale by comparison.

All this may sound blindingly obvious. But it speaks volumes about the state of today’s Labour Party that even by these most basic standards, the man who would be Prime Minister, Jeremy Corbyn, and his Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, fall shockingly, insultingly and frighteningly short.

Both Mr Corbyn and Ms Abbott were on television yesterday morning. Both were questioned about national security and the terrorist threat. And in both cases, I was frankly horrified by what I heard.

Mr Corbyn has form, to put it mildly. All his life, dating back to his days as a young activist in the late 1970s, he has unwaveringly backed Britain’s enemies against their victims.

A few examples. In the early 1980s, the London Labour Briefing, which Mr Corbyn co-founded, gloried in the news of IRA attacks on British soldiers and joked that the 1984 Brighton bombing was just ‘a start’.

In 1996, after the IRA had bombed the London Docklands, the West End and – with grim irony – Manchester, Mr Corbyn invited their political godfather, Gerry Adams, to the House of Commons to launch his autobiography, despite the fact that both the Speaker and the Labour leadership begged him to reconsider.

In 2001 he blamed the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center (which had, he said admiringly, taken ‘an enormous amount of skill’) on US support for Israel.

In 2002, he blamed the Islamist nightclub bombing on Bali, which killed 202 people, mostly Australian holidaymakers, on the CIA’s interventions in Indonesia four decades earlier.

In 2011, he boasted to a Stop the War rally that he had opposed every single major piece of anti-terrorist legislation since he entered Parliament. Seventeen times various governments tried to strengthen our national security, and 17 times Jeremy Corbyn tried to stop them.

Perhaps most appallingly, it emerged yesterday that in 2014, Mr Corbyn told a Stop the War rally that the death of Alan Henning, beheaded by Jihadi John, was ‘the price of war, the price of intervention, the price of jingoism’.

For the avoidance of doubt, let me remind you that Alan Henning was not a soldier but an aid worker, a cab driver who had volunteered to drive humanitarian supplies to the victims of the Syrian Civil War. Yet Mr Corbyn blamed his death on ‘jingoism’.

It was Britain’s fault, in other words. It always is.

Even when Robert Peston asked him about these comments yesterday, Mr Corbyn refused to apologise. And when asked about his support for the IRA, he repeated that he was talking to all sides in a valiant effort to bring peace to Northern Ireland.

I am sorry to sound harsh, but this is a lie. There is no other word for it. Mr Corbyn did not talk to all sides. He never talked to loyalists, to the British Army or to people who wanted the IRA to stop.

And he is also lying when he says he wanted peace. The record of history shows that he did not. He wanted the IRA to win, and Britain to be defeated.

All of this brings us to Diane Abbott, who is, I think, the single least competent and least trustworthy senior political figure in my lifetime. Even now I still cannot quite believe that Ms Abbott is Labour’s candidate to become Home Secretary.

There is probably no politician in the country with such a long record of hostility to the police, support for extremists or hostility to the British state. Not content with opposing a ban on Al Qaeda, she has even called for the security service, MI5, to be shut down.

Interviewed by Andrew Marr yesterday, she was asked whether she stood by her declaration in 1984 that Northern Ireland was ‘our struggle – every defeat of the British state is a victory for all of us. A defeat in Northern Ireland would be a defeat indeed’.

Just read those words again. Ms Abbott wanted an IRA victory. She wanted Britain to be defeated.

This is the woman that Mr Corbyn intends to put in charge of our police, the woman he trusts to protect us from the bombers. And what was Ms Abbott’s reaction? She tried to laugh it off. ‘I had an Afro,’ she said. ‘It was 34 years ago. The hairstyle has gone and some of the views have gone. We have all moved on.’

'Diane Abbott is, I think, the single least competent and least trustworthy senior political figure in my lifetime'

‘Diane Abbott is, I think, the single least competent and least trustworthy senior political figure in my lifetime’

Yes, Diane Abbott equated her support for the IRA with her hairstyle. She treats the issue of terrorism with precisely the same seriousness that she brings to her personal grooming.

To be honest, I am not sure which is worse: Jeremy Corbyn’s unctuous dishonesty, or Diane Abbott’s attempt to laugh off her support for terrorism as a lifestyle choice.

But both are essentially smokescreens for the same thing: their frankly contemptible record of justifying terror, opposing attempts to strengthen our national security and glorying in defeats for Britain and the Western world.

Since there is often far too much overheated rhetoric in election campaigns, I am reluctant to go overboard. Most politicians, of whatever party, are patriotic, well-meaning people. I didn’t rate Ed Miliband. But I never doubted that he would do his best to defend our national interests and to keep the British people safe.

Yesterday, however, Mr Corbyn and Ms Abbott showed once again that they are utterly unworthy of public trust. I don’t believe they would fight for Britain, I don’t believe that they would stand up against terrorism, and I don’t believe they would keep us safe. There can be no greater disqualification for office than that.

 

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