by Martin Odoni

It may take courage to become Prime Minister, but it also takes courage to do the things that will keep you there. The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, today had a change-of-heart – I think correctly – over his previous decision not to take part in tonight’s televised leadership debate. Having announced his involvement, he then invited Theresa May to join the debate too. Did anyone fail to predict what May’s response would be?

May will run and hide. She will let the other leaders do all the talking.

The Conservative Party campaign has been so risk-averse so far that it is quite impossible to call it anything better than cowardly. One almost wonders whether May would refuse to do interviews if they require a prior journey across a road, for fear of being run over. The ludicrous upshot of the safest-options-at-all-times approach, designed to hold onto the lead the Tories had at the start of the campaign and nothing more, is that it runs completely contrary to its own message. May has interminably bored the nation to tears with claims to being a “Strong & Stable” leader, and a Corbyn premiership being the doorway to a “Coalition of chaos“. She claims only she has the authority to negotiate effectively with continental leaders as Britain negotiates its withdrawal from the European Union.

But more and more, it is becoming impossible to miss the absurd disconnect between May’s mechanical words and her insulating actions. If she is strong and Corbyn is chaotic, why will she not debate him? If she is so strong, she will surely be able to outwit and outbattle a chaotic weakling at the despatch box? If she is so stable, how come she and her fellow Tories have made most of the real ‘car-crash’ mistakes over the last five weeks? If she is so stable, why does she keep making policy U-turns, including on Manifesto pledges before the General Election has even arrived?

From all this, the follow-up question is inevitable; if a leader is not willing to debate a mere six other Britons, how can she be ‘Strong & Stable’ enough to be trusted with the task of negotiating with the leaders of twenty-seven other countries? If courage is truly the strength it is generally held to be, why is it conspicuously absent from the deeds of a leader who is supposed to be ‘strong-and-stable’?

May’s excuse for not taking part is that she believes a politician’s job during an Election campaign is not to stand on stage and argue with other politicians. Instead, she claims, it is to get out and meet people, knocking on doors and engaging in doorstep conversations. There are at least four reasons why this is a flat-out and very obvious lie; –

Firstly, the Tory campaign has been repeatedly and rightly mocked very widely for its persistent over-orchestration, which has actually been even worse than it was under David Cameron in 2015. The attempts to keep random members of the public and ‘non-approved’ journalists from getting near to May have extended as far as locking some members of the press in another room while the Prime Minister talked to pre-vetted people (an action I am not even sure was legal; what if there had been a fire?).

Secondly, no one is suggesting May should do the televised debate instead of door-knocking. While they cannot both be done simultaneously, in a five-week campaign, there should be no difficulty setting aside time separately for each activity. It is hardly as if the televised debate is going to last the full remaining week of campaign-time (I am heroically resisting the temptation to add that it often seems like a week listening to May speaking for an hour… oops, looks like I said it anyway).

Thirdly, most of the questions in the televised debates are asked by members of the public. Does it really make that much difference if they are asked in a television studio and not on a doorstep?

Fourthly, I would be more than a little surprised, after the debate closes, were I to learn that May had spent that whole of that time talking to voters on the doorstep, and not perched on a settee, watching other leaders ‘squabbling’ on TV. But for her excuse to have any traction, door-knocking while the debate is going on is precisely what she would have to get out and do.

In short, Theresa May is terrified that she will lose in a public debate with Jeremy Corbyn.

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May’s cowardice is not only a bad move strategically, given the dismal recent polling news for her party, who clearly could do with something positive to happen for them to stop the rot. It is also bad on democratic principle. Not only because it adds both accountability and knowledge of a candidate to the democratic process. The modern British public are often accused of being ‘apathetic‘ to and ‘disengaged’ from politics. Probably true, and it is spoken of as an indictment of the public. I, however, see it more as an indictment of modern politicians, and May’s behaviour would demonstrate one of those failings. She is Prime Minister of (what just barely passes for) a democratic country, a country where the politicians serve and are answerable to the people. Yet May has demonstrated throughout this campaign that she will not answer to them.

This shows why the criticism of the British public as ‘apathetic’ is not altogether fair. After all, how can the public possibly be expected to engage with democratic politics, when the most powerful democratic politician in the country will not engage with the public?

I doubt Theresa May, a woman of absolutely no principles, cares one jot about the moral duty. My hope therefore is that next week she is punished for her strategic foolishness instead.

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by Martin Odoni

Without wishing to get too excited too quickly, I thought I should leave this here. The polling company, YouGov, are actually predicting that the Conservative Party will fall sixteen seats short of an overall majority in the House of Commons! You read that right, everyone, the latest projection is a Hung Parliament. From a twenty-plus-point lead for the Tories about five weeks ago, to a Hung Parliament!

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We need to recognise that a lot can happen in the eight-and-a-bit days before the General Election, that it is only one poll, and that there are substantial uncertainties surrounding the data. But if this projection proves anywhere near correct, then the fightback by the Labour Party has been unprecedented, and this Election is shaping up to be one of the biggest electoral turnarounds of all time.

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by Martin Odoni

Well, the televised leadership “debate“, or at least the nearest equivalent that Theresa May had sufficient courage to submit to, on Channel 4 is over. Both she and the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, answered questions from the audience, moderated by Faisal Islam, and then faced a grilling from the nation’s most brutal interrogator, Jeremy Paxman.

Corbyn took first turn, and was very relaxed and accomplished during the audience Q & A. It was a fair bit tougher for him during the Paxman interview, predictably enough, and I did notice Corbyn getting a little evasive, especially on the matter of nuclear weapons. However, no matter how nastily Paxman asked the questions, there did seem to be a certain futility about a lot of them. Questions about the Falklands War, for instance, or the diplomatic nicety of addressing delegates from Hamas as, “my friends”, seemed very in-keeping with the rather woolly-minded obsession in the mainstream media at the moment with things Corbyn said in the 1980’s. I hate to draw attention to this point, media people, but the 1980’s have very definitely not stretched all the way to the year 2017, and many issues of the time are long settled. Yes, they include the Falklands War. And the Irish Republican Army for that matter. Fussing about the politics of the 1980’s during the 2017 General Election would be a little like fussing about the politics of the Wall Street Crash during the Presidential Debates between John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon.

Equally, the very hypothetical, in fact specualtive, scenario Paxman put to Corbyn about “twenty minutes to order a drone-strike on someone planning a bombing” seemed ludicrously over-dramatic and specific. It seems a very James Bond film suggestion, and would probably never work in such a way in practice. If it was a question of national security being safe or otherwise in Corbyn’s hands, it seems very uneven that Paxman did not ask May, just for instance, why she let MI5 work with the Libyan Islamic Fighters Group in 2011 – the group with whom the Manchester Arena Bomber may have been working.

Overall, Corbyn came across positively. He kept his cool reasonably well, and seemed both affable and fairly sincere, and will have taken no political damage from the questioning at all. (Even opponents of Corbyn such as Alastair Campbell and Nigel Farage have admitted as such.)

As for May, her performance was not as awful as some are suggesting on social media, but it was still unambiguously weaker than Corbyn’s. She did okay during the audience Q & A, although she was needlessly evasive with the first couple of questions, while her repetitive use all the way through of the phrase, “Strong economy” showed that she is still completely incapable of speaking publicly without retreating into reflexive, robotic soundbites. She is the epitome of the over-trained politician. Thankfully, she never once said, “Strong and stable”, presumably because she realised that she would turn most of the audience against her the instant she did so. But all that has changed is the pet soundbite, and the new one is only half-different from the old one.

May’s subsequent performance against Paxman left a lot to be desired, at least early on. She was stammering and changing tack halfway through sentences quite frequently, and she committed one particularly silly gaffe that she was lucky Paxman did not pick up on, when he asked her if she accepted responsibility for her mistakes, and she said,

“I take responsibility for the decisions I make.”

The unwanted implication of giving this as an answer to that particular question is that May’s decisions are all mistakes. Had Paxman been really on the top of his game, I am sure he would have pursued that.

May also came across as rather silly when trying not to admit that she had changed her mind on leaving the European Union – she was originally opposed but is now in favour – by denying that she thinks it is a duff idea. If she really wants people to believe she is a ‘strong and stable’ leader (YAWN!), then she needs to stop flip-flopping while pretending to be consistent. From the list of very swift U-turns Paxman rightly presented her with, it is quite correct that he called her “a blowhard who collapses at the first sign of gunfire.” This description got probably the loudest ovation of the night from the audience, and that will be of concern at Tory Party HQ.

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The Prime Minister, described by Jeremy Paxman as “a blowhard who collapses at the first sound of gunfire.”

May did finish fairly solidly though, although it was clear she was getting help from a jingoistic minority in the audience who were whooping and cheering any sign in her rhetoric of a two-fingered salute to the EU. It is very saddening to find that there are still large numbers of people in this country who are so easily impressed by such yobbish theatrics. But impressed they are, and their vocal support seemed to lift May enough to get her through to the close.

So, in all, another clear win for Corbyn, and he continues to hold the impetus and the initiative in the election campaign. Whether this leads to another boost in the polls for Labour, we shall have to wait and see. On the flip-side, May’s performance was shaky, but it was certainly not another disaster for the Tories, who may well be sighing with relief just at that small mercy. (Especially after the comical double-disaster for Michael Fallon over the weekend.) But even so, May still came off worse on the night. The ‘debate’ was not an outright fiasco for once in this abysmal excuse for a Tory election campaign. But even a less decisive loss is still another loss, and so there is hardly reason for the Conservative Party to break out the bubbly just yet.

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by Martin Odoni

HEALTH WARNING: BEWARE OF POSSIBLE SARCASM OVERDOSE

On Friday 26th May, the band Captain Ska, in association with The People’s Assembly Against Austerity, released a new single called Liar Liar.

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It has so far been a great success, reaching number 10 in the Downloads Chart on iTunes. However, several radio stations, Capital FM and Heart, have skipped over the song when it would have been appropriate to play it on air.

The precise reason for this oversight has not yet been made clear, but one pretex-… er, I mean, entirely justified possible reason is concern over political neutrality. The content of the song is heavily critical of Prime Minister Theresa May and the Conservative Government. Given the entertainment-only nature of these radio stations, it is perhaps understandable that their controllers would want to keep their broadcast content apolitical, especially with a General Election only eleven days away.

Now of course, this issue could lead to considerable unhappy pressure being applied to broadcasters, especially if the single continues to do well. And we would absolutely not want that to happen, now would we? I have concluded that the most reliable way of preventing such an inconvenience would be to reduce public exposure to Liar Liar. So I have decided to do my bit to help out. Therefore…

In the interests of political neutrality, it would be preferable if nobody clicked on the following link leading to the download page for the single on the Amazon website; –

This is the link you should not click on.

Also, may I request that no one follows this link to the corresponding download page on the iTunes website either?

You should not click on this link either.

Equally, political neutrality also requires that no one’s attention is brought to the video release of the single, which can be viewed on YouTube via this next link, which of course no one should click on either; –

Whoah! You should totally avoid this link like it leads to a 700-photo album of Katie Hopkins in a series of saucy poses.

And above all, can I please request that all readers share all the links on this page to their social media accounts. That way, everybody else they know will be made aware of which links not to click on, and can pass the information on in turn.

Thank you for your time and co-operation, everybody.

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by Martin Odoni

The details that have emerged about the Manchester Arena Bomber, Salman Abedi, seem to suggest that, in spite of the organisation’s self-aggrandising claims, he was probably not a member of Daesh (ISIS).

The first point that needs emphasising is that, as is so often the case with these forms of terrorism, the bomber was native to the country under attack. Indeed, Abedi was not only British, he was even native to Manchester itself, and lived just three miles from the Arena. The inevitable tidal wave of cries from the xenophobic right in the days after the attack to close the borders and throw out the refugees are therefore, once again, shown to be futile hate-speech. One of the worst examples of this I have seen is this meme on social media; –

Xenophobes taunt Manchester over the Arena Bombing

The xenophobic right think taunting a city while it is in mourning is suitable behaviour.

Taunting a city of people who are in mourning is an oddly British thing to do – just ask the people of Liverpool. But as much as this mentality is disgusting, it is also irrelevant; Abedi was not a refugee, and so turfing out refugees before Monday would have made not a jot of difference. The meme, in short, says far more about the insecurity and fear of the people who made it than it does about the terrorism situation. (It must be terrible to be a member of the Far-Right. To live a life so full of fear, and to be too weak-willed to resist that fear, must be a harrowing existence.)

The point has been made that Abedi’s family were refugees from the Libya of Muammar Ghaddafi. Yes, they were, but they were not the ones who carried out the bombing. So unless evidence is found that they helped Abedi with the attack, this is, again, irrelevant.

But back to the more immediate point, Abedi’s putative links to Daesh look doubtful. The only particular reason for assuming he had any is that he supposedly visited Syria a few weeks ago. But that is a pretty wild assumption, given there are plenty of other factions in the Syrian Civil War than Daesh.

Abedi’s family may have links to a jihadist group in Libya, called the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), and it is likelier to my mind that this is the faction that radicalised him; the LIFG is believed to have members in the Whalley Range area of Manchester. The important detail in that is that the LIFG is not an ally of Daesh. LIFG instead regards itself as an affiliate of ‘al-Qaeda’. I have said more than once in the past that the idea of ‘al-Qaeda’ being a single worldwide organisation is a bit of a nonsense. But insofar as the network exists, it is in fact an enemy of Daesh; –

An internal split developed in ‘al-Qaeda’s’ operations in Iraq and Syria during the so-called Arab Spring. The ‘al-Qaeda’ faction in Syria, the al-Nusra Front, broke off from ‘al-Qaeda-In-Iraq’ because its commander, Abu Mohammed al-Jalani, wanted to have a free hand in fighting the Syrian Government. When the ‘al-Qaeda’ supreme leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, gave his blessing to the split, the head of the Iraqi faction, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was so incensed that he revoked his oath of allegiance to Zawahiri, and declared his territory to be ‘The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/Levant’ (ISIS/ISIL) – or ‘Daesh’. Since then, the two Wahhabist armies have been permanently at loggerheads.

With this in mind, it seems unlikely that an apparent LIFG sympathiser – therefore an ‘al-Qaeda’ follower – would take orders from al-Baghdadi. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that Abedi had changed sides of course, but if he really had joined Islamic State on his visit to Syria, it would be very interesting and informative to learn why he did so. Until such information comes to light, I am leaning away from the notion that Abedi was with Daesh.

There is one more aspect of the matter of Libya I want to discuss. The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, voted against military action in Libya back in 2011.

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At that same time, the current Prime Minister, Theresa May, was Home Secretary. In that capacity, she was of course working directly with MI5. MI5, at the time, was helping the Libyan jihadists in the war with Ghaddafi, and had been doing so since at least 1996. See this from Mark Curtis; –

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Given the ‘al-Qaeda’ sympathies of the LIFG, it is a pretty big policy-swing in ‘The War On Terror‘ that Britain gave them support at all. This certainly underlines precisely what Corbyn was saying in his controversial speech on Friday. But there is a darker, more personal element in this. If, as seems likeliest, Theresa May was co-operating with the LIFG in 2011, while Corbyn was working to try and keep Britain out of Libya, and if, as also seems likeliest, Abedi really was an LIFG soldier, then May becomes (loosely) implicated in Monday’s attack. She is certainly more heavily implicated in that than Corbyn supposedly is (yeah, right) in Irish Republican terror. Now whether they feel Corbyn was guilty of IRA support or not, people have to recognise that that threat is largely a thing of the past. Whereas Wahhabist militancy is very much in the here-and-now, and the Prime Minister appears to have helped it grow. In that light, the British people have a very uncomfortable question to mull over ahead of the General Election; –

Just what evidence is there that Theresa May would be a better option for keeping Britain safe and secure than Jeremy Corbyn?

So far, I have seen precisely none.

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by Martin Odoni

The Conservative Party line in response to Jeremy Corbyn’s speech on Friday has been one of predictable, theatrical outrage. They have accused Corbyn of ‘making excuses’ for terrorism, as I am sure most people guessed they would, even though Corbyn himself had gone to great lengths to make clear that he held the people who commit such atrocities responsible for them. As I wrote yesterday, there is a distinction between explanation and justification or extenuation, and it is childish when a politician – or indeed anybody – tries to blur that boundary. When it happens, it is usually a rather cowardly method of avoiding a difficult discussion.

One Tory who needs singling out for particular contempt in all this is the ever-blimpish Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson – or as I call him, ‘BoJob’. At a joint press conference with US State Secretary Rex Tillerson yesterday, he decried Corbyn’s words furiously; –

“I find it absolutely extraordinary, and inexplicable… that there should be any attempt to justify or to legitimate the actions of terrorists… Now is not the time to do anything to subtract from the fundamental responsibility of those individuals, that individual in particular, who committed this atrocity. And I think it is absolutely monstrous that anybody should seek to do so.”

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BoJob’s words veer a little between criticising the timing of Corbyn’s speech, and criticising the content of it. But while the focus is a little inconsistent, BoJob leaves us in little doubt that he wants everybody to see Corbyn’s meaning as objectionable.

Now, BoJob has subsequently received much criticism in return in the media, given that he was singing much the same tune as Corbyn in The Spectator back in 2005, in the aftermath of the London Underground Bombings. Of course, that atrocity occurred during the time of a Labour Government, and in apparent response to an aggressive war upon which that Government had embarked. Both the timing and the meaning of BoJob’s words then were barely distinguishable from Corbyn’s speech on Friday.

I am sure everyone is familiar with the counter-argument by now, and so shall dwell no further on it; there is nothing terribly remarkable or unusual about BoJob talking around the other side of his head, after all. Instead, I wish to point out that, as Foreign Secretary, he is particularly involved in the British foreign policy that Corbyn has been criticising.

I refer in particular to BoJob’s dismissive responses to demands that Britain cease selling arms and aircraft to Saudi Arabia. The House of al-Saud, effectively a kind of Wahhabist monarchy, is one of the most brutally repressive regimes on the face of the Earth. More pertinently though, it has been indiscriminately using the arms it purchases from Britain for the last two years to interfere very violently indeed in the Yemeni Civil War.

One shudders to guess how many children have been killed in the Saudi-led Coalition’s atrocities over the last two years, but we can be sure that the death-toll of the Manchester Arena Bombing, harrowing though it was, pales before the body-count in Yemen. Saudi actions in Yemen are, by any reasonable definition, terrorism-with-state-blessing.

Not only does BoJob have precious few words of condemnation for these crimes, he paves the way for, and defends, British weapons sales to the House of al-Saud. He not only endorses terrorism, and ‘subtracts from the fundamental responsibility’ for it, he even aids and abets it.

Please note that, in return for their ongoing co-operation, the Saudi Government has given both Johnson and some of his colleagues personal gifts, including food hampers. This is not only an inappropriate business practice, it is also an incredibly crass and insensitive choice of present, given the ongoing famine in some of the worst-hit areas of Yemen. Some of the worst hit, by the way, have been hit by Saudi air-strikes using British-manufactured jets.

So, Boris… who exactly is the one being ‘monstrous’ here?

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by Martin Odoni

I lost count long ago of the number of times I had read xenophobes, racists and Islamophobes on the Internet saying, “Finally someone’s got the courage to say it!!!” These declarations have invariably been in response to someone else making a wildly-generalised, prejudiced, hate-filled and simplistic remark against other races or nationalities.

Today (well all right, yesterday by the time this is published), it was my turn to say it, and it was in response to the diametric opposite. It was one of the Labour Party leader’s most adroit speeches, and marked something of a watershed moment in British politics. Perhaps for the first time in the midst of any General Election campaign, we finally got to hear the leader of a major party put into words something that was not only demonstrably true, but took enormous courage to say. Cue Jeremy Corbyn; –

“Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services, have pointed out the connections between wars that we have been involved in, or supported, or fought, in other countries and terrorism here at home.”

A lot of people, far beyond myself in expertise, have been screaming this out for years and years, and have been forever frustrated at how it never gets discussion in mainstream political debate. For instance, take Mark Curtis, author of Web Of Deceit, and an historian I believe every Twitter-user in the United Kingdom should follow fastidiously. He has worked for decades to expose to the majority the amoral reality of British foreign policy. A foreign policy that has led the country to assisting in the toppling of foreign Governments – often democratic ones – and replacing them with dictatorships and oligarchies, in countries including, but by no means limited to, Iran, Chile, Indonesia, and Cambodia. They are of course just the tip of a very large, chilling and brutally hard iceberg, an iceberg whose painfully sharp, jagged features Curtis has catalogued in a lot of detail.

More pertinent to the horrors in Manchester this week, Britain, hand-in-hand with the United States of America, has played a key and disastrous role in the rise of Militant Wahhabi terrorism. Indirectly allying with Jihadists in Afghanistan during a war with the Soviet Union through the 1980’s paved the way for the emergence of Osama bin-Laden. At other points, the rise has been accelerated by myopic policies using local militant groups to fight ‘wars-by-proxy’ – for instance in Libya in 2011 or today in Syria – and help Britain secure resources, or markets, in far-off lands by weakening their Governments. In Iraq in 2003, Britain and the USA carried out a more overt invasion in the name of ‘freedom’, under the almost-childish assumption that a nation can be bombed into democracy.

Quite simply, British foreign policy is, as it has always been, amoral. Too many Britons are unaware of the degree of this problem, partly because so many British ‘activities’ abroad are hidden from the view of the unskeptical media, partly also because, insofar as it is known by the man-in-the-street, it is too often simplified to be ‘all-about-oil’. Britain may no longer be openly Imperialist, but that is less for moral reasons and more due to practical realities; the country was too exhausted by two World Wars, and so had simply fallen too far behind the likes of the USA to be able to remain a colonial power. But the country’s policy abroad remains as exploitative and aggressive as ever it was. It creates the very enemies British politicians and media eternally demonise.

That does not justify the crimes of these enemies of course, but then explanation is not justification. Corbyn himself went to great pains to emphasise that, no matter how cynically (and predictably) other parties have tried to misportray his words. As Corbyn said,

“That assessment in no way reduces the guilt of those who attack our children. Those terrorists will forever be reviled and implacably held to account for their actions. The blame is with the terrorists, but if we are to protect our people we must be honest about what threatens our security.”

The sad reality is that, if we want to stop the emergence of such terrorists, we have to understand the process that radicalises them in the first place, and alter it.

When Corbyn said, “The War On Terror is not working,” he was objectively telling another grossly-obvious truth. In the aftermath of the 9/11 Attacks on New York and Washington DC, hysterical paranoia gripped much of the USA, with the UK joining in with it. Tony Blair in particular was eager to endorse a wildly-exaggerated narrative about a worldwide terrorist network called ‘al-Qaeda‘, and western intervention across the Middle East began to increase. Military action in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran (aborted), and Libya were meant to make the democratic world safer from a threat that, truth be told, scarcely existed on the scale presented, while also exacerbating a widespread impression among British and American Muslims of being ‘a faith under siege’.

But far worse, these military interventions caused entire countries to break down and all semblance of cohesion and governance evaporated across vast stretches of territory in proximity to the Persian Gulf. With no central authority or security left in these territories to intervene, they became like a magnet to a range of factions with militant-extremist leanings. They had freedom and space to pool resources, recruit more and more troops to their cause, accumulate weapons, formulate strategies, and become far, far stronger than they had had any hope of being in times when the regions were firmly governed. The greatest opponents to these groups a lot of the time were each other, and there were occasional breakdowns in relations.

Daesh, or the ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Levant‘ (ISIL) as it vaingloriously likes to call itself, emerged  from precisely one of these schisms in the so-called ‘al-Qaeda network’, caused by a ‘demarcation dispute’ between Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his former henchman, Abu Mohammed al-Jalani, over expanding operations from Iraq into Syria, forming the al-Nusra Front. Al-Baghdadi wanted to retain authority over the al-Nusra Front, but al-Jalani refused. To settle the dispute, Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of ‘al-Qaeda’, ruled that al-Jalani had authority in Syria, al-Baghdai in Iraq, and there should be no cross-over. Al-Baghdadi responded by formally retracting his oath of allegiance to Zawahiri, sent forces into Syria, and seized al-Jalani’s headquarters and over eighty per cent of the al-Nusra soldiers. With this victory, al-Baghdadi established the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS/Daesh/ISIL. By 2014, it had a very large army, and was substantially well-supplied. While this force’s reach and punch are still heavily-overstated – the facts in the cold light of day show that attacks beyond the Middle East are still few-and-far-between – they are now strong enough to present much the kind of threat that ‘al-Qaeda’ was talked up as being during Tony Blair’s time as Prime Minister.

So Corbyn is correct. If its first purpose was to make the West safer, then the UK’s (and the USA’s) War On Terror is very clearly not working. Quite the contrary, it has brought about precisely the scenario it was supposedly meant to avert, and given Militant Wahhabism the room to build up into a significant threat. The West is in more danger now than it was back in 2001, when it all began. Sixteen years is surely sufficient time to judge whether such an endeavour is successful, and the judgement when comparing outcomes to stated aims has to be negative.

This merely demonstrates the foolish side of British foreign policy. It does not even touch upon the amoral side, in particular Britain’s illicit manoeuvres in foreign lands for the purposes of lifting resources.

Anyone who tries to dismiss British foreign policy as a weak ‘excuse’ for terrorism are not only guilty of the juvenile error of confusing explanation with extenuation. They are also ignoring a welter of evidence. The London Bombers of 2005 firmly implied that they were meting out ‘punishment’ for the invasion of Iraq. On Monday, the Manchester Arena Bomber, Salman Abedi, was looking to avenge Allied airstrikes in Syria, according to his sister; one such airstrike occurred just a day before the Westminster Attack in March, and so may explain the crime of Khalid Masood.

Of all the major party leaders over the last thirty years, only Jeremy Corbyn has dared to acknowledge publicly that British foreign policy – particularly its century-plus history of interference in the ‘Holy Land’ – is probably provoking Wahhabist attacks. To say as much during a General Election campaign is doubly brave, as it redirects the root cause, and therefore perhaps some of the blame, away from ‘the other’ and back onto his own country. Many in the electorate will not like the implication, which is that some of the failings that lead to terrorism will touch upon themselves, however inadvertently. The implication also acknowledges that the problem is far more complex, and therefore more difficult to resolve, than the parental-sounding reassurances of a casual ‘We’re-the-goodies-and-they’re-the-baddies’ narrative, into which most Prime Ministers retreat.

Those of a knee-jerk-xenophobic disposition mis-proclaim that anti-foreigner messages are ‘courageous’ – loud intolerance is often mistaken for bravery – because those who spread them risk being labelled ‘racist’ by ‘shrieking liberal hysterics’. But what is the reaction of the ‘courageous’ intolerants when Corbyn counters with the suggestion that other mechanisms may be at work here? They shriek at him hysterically, accuse him of ‘crass timing’ (maybe they could explain when would be a good time to discuss the complexities of radicalisation, if not in the days after a terrorist attack?), of ‘making excuses’ for terrorists. Of course, we all knew that response to his words was coming, but that meant it required all-the-more courage to say them. The lunatic right, and even others more centrally-aligned, are resorting to precisely the same types of intimidating shout-down tactics of which the lunatic right themselves claim to be victims.

It does not take courage to resort to ‘othering’ in response to tragedy. What requires courage is acknowledging the failings of the country itself, and admitting that addressing the root causes of radicalisation is not a straightforward, black-and-white matter of beating up the baddies. A lot of people will not be happy to hear of such grey areas, and are more eager to be told, “I’ll keep you safe. I don’t need to explain why or how I can do it, just let me do it,” which is substantially the position of Theresa May and many a Prime Minister before her. But now, at last, a politician challenging to be Prime Minister – and with a better-than-expected chance of succeeding judging by recent opinion polls – has dared to draw attention to the grey.

In doing so, Corbyn has raised a question about the people of Britain themselves, a question we will soon have answered. That question is, would more people prefer being reassured by mummy that everything-will-be-all-right-just-leave-it-to-me-now-go-back-to-sleep, or would more people prefer having a mature, nuanced debate about the realities of geopolitics?

If Corbyn wins the Election in under two weeks, we can assume the answer is the latter – in which case there is hope for Britain yet.