Twenty odd years ago I went for my usual 6-monthly dental appointment. My dentist at the time was based in the Isle of Dogs and I took the Docklands Light Railway from Bank Station. As the train left Canary Wharf and headed out towards South Quay it brought me over the place where, a few weeks earlier, the IRA had exploded a massive truck bomb.
The wreckage was quite shocking. It was the first time I had seen the consequences of a major explosion. I will never forget the huge newly built tower blocks, with every window blown out and the blinds, still attached to the frames, flapping in the breeze. The terrorists had given a warning so the area was largely evacuated. Fortunately, only two people were killed but scores suffered relatively minor injuries. The insurance costs ran into hundreds of millions of pounds. The visual shock of the scene of devastation was no doubt what the republicans had wanted to achieve.
Before this atrocity, during it and afterwards, the man who now seeks to be Prime Minister was regularly talking with the political representatives of the terrorists. In doing so he gave them a public platform and some spurious legitimacy. He defended his actions then – as he does now – on the basis that he was trying to encourage dialogue, to push for peace. But it was always clear whose side he was on, to paraphrase Billy Bragg’s famous song (about the miners’ strike). He, and his allies John McDonnell and Diane Abbott, were arguing that the military defeat of the British Army in Ulster was a thing to be desired. He was the terrorists’ friend.
Corbyn carried on this tactic with his leadership of the Stop the War movement. Claiming to be a peace-loving organisation, Stop the War has for years been run by the hard left, the anti-Israel, pro Palestinian, pro-Assad factions. The only war they want to stop is any war which they see as furthering the interests of the West or of Israel. They have no interest at all in stopping the war being waged by Hamas and Hezbollah against the Jewish state.
And that is where Corbyn has always stood. He is happy to talk to Irish republican extremists, but never goes to speak to Loyalists. He calls Hamas his friends but never engages with the Israeli authorities, never tries to understand their point of view. He is very selective in who he deals with.
It is for this reason that this man must not be allowed to hold any position of responsibility in this country. Behind the carefully cultivated avuncular and honest personality lies a devious and dishonest supporter of many dangerous terrorist groups. Had the victims of the recent Manchester bombing been British soldiers rather than innocent children, I very much doubt he would have condemned the bombing in the terms which he has recently employed. As Theresa May has said, any vote for anyone other than the Conservatives is a vote for chaos. And thus despite the weakness of the Conservative campaign so far, there is no alternative. Britain needs a Conservative government with a good working majority.