Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

1. We in the Gaza Strip will not die in silence (Guardian)

If the world will not defend the Palestinians against Israel, we have the right to defend ourselves, says Musa Abumarzuq.

2. Lynton Crosby is a disastrous signing for the Tories (Independent)

The Tories have appointed a man who could undermine all that David Cameron stands for and whose approach risks long-term damage to the party brand, writes Ian Birrell.

3. Is this the death of the Republican party? No chance (Guardian)

Republican courting of white people was based on strategy not principle, writes Gary Younge. To reach out wider would not require a great leap.

4. Don’t get frothed into a right-wing bubble (Times) (£)

‘Political entertainment’ could be as harmful to the Conservative Party as it has been for the US Republicans, writes Tim Montgomerie.

5. UK must be an active RBS investor (Financial Times)

The government must not be hamstrung by its commitment to keep RBS out of full state control, says a Financial Times editorial.

6. As the 'gates of hell' open once more in the Middle East, these old journalistic clichés won't do (Independent)

Whether it's 'surgical air strikes', 'rooting out terror' or 'cyber-terrorism', the stench of hypocrisy is rife, says Robert Fisk.

7. For Britain, the EU is good value for money (Guardian)

The UK's demands for cuts to the EU budget are wrong-headed, and a veto would backfire, says Radosław Sikorski.

8. Not a single penny more for the EU’s begging bowl (Daily Telegraph)

The demand for a budget increase amid such an abuse of public funds is outrageous, says Boris Johnson.

9. Obama’s path to Xanadu runs via Jerusalem (Financial Times)

If the US President can build "strategic trust" with China in the Middle East, the habit could take hold elsewhere, writes Edward Luce.

10. Vince’s mansion tax rises from the dead (Daily Telegraph)

The mansion tax – or whatever form the Quad’s bargain eventually takes – is not a coherent approach to economic management, says a Daily Telegraph leader.

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No, Jeremy Corbyn did not refuse to condemn the IRA. Please stop saying he did

Guys, seriously.

Okay, I’ll bite. Someone’s gotta say it, so really might as well be me:

No, Jeremy Corbyn did not, this weekend, refuse to condemn the IRA. And no, his choice of words was not just “and all other forms of racism” all over again.

Can’t wait to read my mentions after this one.

Let’s take the two contentions there in order. The claim that Corbyn refused to condem the IRA relates to his appearance on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme yesterday. (For those who haven’t had the pleasure, it’s a weekly political programme, hosted by Sophy Ridge and broadcast on a Sunday. Don’t say I never teach you anything.)

Here’s how Sky’s website reported that interview:

 

The first paragraph of that story reads:

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised after he refused five times to directly condemn the IRA in an interview with Sky News.

The funny thing is, though, that the third paragraph of that story is this:

He said: “I condemn all the bombing by both the loyalists and the IRA.”

Apparently Jeremy Corbyn has been so widely criticised for refusing to condemn the IRA that people didn’t notice the bit where he specifically said that he condemned the IRA.

Hasn’t he done this before, though? Corbyn’s inability to say he that opposed anti-semitism without appending “and all other forms of racism” was widely – and, to my mind, rightly – criticised. These were weasel words, people argued: an attempt to deflect from a narrow subject where the hard left has often been in the wrong, to a broader one where it wasn’t.

Well, that pissed me off too: an inability to say simply “I oppose anti-semitism” made it look like he did not really think anti-semitism was that big a problem, an impression not relieved by, well, take your pick.

But no, to my mind, this....

“I condemn all the bombing by both the loyalists and the IRA.”

...is, despite its obvious structural similarities, not the same thing.

That’s because the “all other forms of racism thing” is an attempt to distract by bringing in something un-related. It implies that you can’t possibly be soft on anti-semitism if you were tough on Islamophobia or apartheid, and experience shows that simply isn’t true.

But loyalist bombing were not unrelated to IRA ones: they’re very related indeed. There really were atrocities committed on both sides of the Troubles, and while the fatalities were not numerically balanced, neither were they orders of magnitude apart.

As a result, specifically condemning both sides as Corbyn did seems like an entirely reasonable position to take. Far creepier, indeed, is to minimise one set of atrocities to score political points about something else entirely.

The point I’m making here isn’t really about Corbyn at all. Historically, his position on Northern Ireland has been pro-Republican, rather than pro-peace, and I’d be lying if I said I was entirely comfortable with that.

No, the point I’m making is about the media, and its bias against Labour. Whatever he may have said in the past, whatever may be written on his heart, yesterday morning Jeremy Corbyn condemned IRA bombings. This was the correct thing to do. His words were nonetheless reported as “Jeremy Corbyn refuses to condemn IRA”.

I mean, I don’t generally hold with blaming the mainstream media for politicians’ failures, but it’s a bit rum isn’t it?

Jonn Elledge edits the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric, and writes for the NS about subjects including politics, history and Daniel Hannan. You can find him on Twitter or Facebook.

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