BY JAMIE FOSTER
Credit where credit is due, James O’Brien has finally said something that is worthy of praise. On his LBC show he came out against Corbyn’s epic hypocrisy in failing to condemn the actions of the government of Venezuela despite tweeting that if one remains neutral in the face of oppression one comes out on the side of the oppressor.
O’Brien is a confirmed left winger who has been supportive of the politics that Corbyn espouses, but even he recognises that Corbyn’s position on Venezuela is untenable. Corbyn was tweeting about Theresa May’s refusal to condemn Donald Trump’s policy on refugees, but when asked to condemn the Venezuelan regime’s treatment of dictator Nicholas Maduro’s opponents, Corbyn declared there should be a cessation of violence on all sides. As O’Brien rightly points out there can be no moral equivalence between the actions of Maduro’s government and the actions of the people he is oppressing.
120 people have died since the beginning of anti-government protests caused by Maduro’s latest power grab. He brought into being a constitutional assembly, packed with his own supporters, tasked with reviewing the constitution of Venezuela. He subsequently gave this assembly the power to make laws in order to get around the law-making powers of the legislature which contains many of his opponents. Opponents have been arbitrarily detained and the democratic process has been ignored. The latest elections in the country have been called a sham by international observers.
Corbyn has been a long term and vocal supporter of Maduro and has been called a ‘friend to Venezuela’ by the dictator. In refusing to condemn Maduro’s actions Corbyn positions himself at the far left of the Labour Party and risks alienating less extreme left wingers like O’Brien. In my previous article on this subject I opined that the left needs to wake up to the reality in Venezuela. It looks as though cracks may be appearing if O’Brien is willing to come out so forcefully against Corbyn.
Maduro’s price controls have led to people who live in cities starving. Basic supplies like sugar are unavailable because those same price controls have made it unprofitable to supply. Venezuela is becoming a narco economy, picking up the drug trade that Colombia is seeking to distance itself from. The socialist policies that Maduro inherited from Chavez have brought Venezuela to the brink of bankruptcy. His reaction to this is to tighten his grip on power. In the end Corbyn can’t criticise him because Venezuela stands as a frightening example of what we would have to look forward to if Corbyn gained power. Corbyn is keen on price controls and redistribution in the same way Maduro is. His reaction to dissent is to shore up his own power base in the same way that Maduro has.
Another socialist dictator, Robert Mugabe, just announced that none of the people responsible for murdering white farmers during his ‘land reforms’ in the 2000s will be prosecuted. Mugabe has also brought his country to the brink of bankruptcy as a result of his far left, socialist policies. Much of Corbyn’s most enthusiastic support comes from the young. It is time that our youth was introduced to the reality of what following Corbyn’s policies leads to. Mugabe and Maduro provide clear evidence of the ultimate outcome of far-left regimes. It is time Corbyn’s supporters woke up to this reality.
It is unusual that I would agree with anything James O’Brien says but on this occasion, he is spot on. Corbyn cannot have his cake and eat it. Either he stands against oppressors or he doesn’t. If he does then he should condemn Maduro despite his politics. If not then he should come clean. It may be a while before I find anything else that James O’Brien says to praise but credit where credit is due. He has stood up to be counted. It will be interesting to see how many on the left follow his lead and distance themselves from Corbyn’s position on this issue.