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Prisons and Prisons

Sunday, November 27, 2016 12:55
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As we all know Jeremy Corbyn has triggered a controversy over his comments on the death of Fidel Castro. Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry found it necessary to defend him.

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry has said it is “quite difficult” to get past allegations of brutality made against Fidel Castro after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn praised the revolutionary leader for his “heroism”.

Nine days of national mourning have been declared in Cuba after Castro’s death at the age of 90.

Mr Corbyn said that “for all his flaws” Castro would be remembered as a “champion of social justice”.

Human Rights Watch gives us an outline summary of Castro’s “flaws”. We are spared the details.

During his nearly five decades of rule in Cuba, Fidel Castro built a repressive system that punished virtually all forms of dissent, a dark legacy that lives on even after his death.

During Castro’s rule, thousands of Cubans were incarcerated in abysmal prisons, thousands more were harassed and intimidated, and entire generations were denied basic political freedoms. Cuba made improvements in health and education, though many of these gains were undermined by extended periods of economic hardship and by repressive policies.

Whatever one thinks of Jeremy Corbyn, his response to Castro’s death is remarkably naive for such a senior politician. Naive to the point of weird because it is not far removed from the kind of response a callow sixth former might make.  
One could simply pour scorn on his hopeless inability to react in a way which acknowledges the lessons of recent history but there is something deeper. Corbyn has his flaws too and cannot escape them. We have learned about dictators but apparently he hasn’t and it isn’t rocket science – it is not difficult to see why Castro was a monster.
Yet Corbyn cannot quite escape the silliness of his radical past, his decades-old political raison d’être. The world has moved on, the old time Stalinist dictators are almost all gone and their appalling crimes are part of our history, but Corbyn doesn’t appear to see it like that. He seems to be imprisoned by his own past to a weird degree. He can’t adapt and doesn’t even see the need to. What the Labour party will do with him I don’t know, but it needs to do something.


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