So if you believe the right wing media, Corbyn (that’s Corbyn) is a ex-spy for the soviet block (again, that’s Corbyn, as in the guy in the dodgy tracksuit below is a spy). I mean I’m not exactly a fan of his, but this is clearly a gutter press hatchet job.
Suffice to say, this story fails the basic smell test and sets off the BS meters on several levels. Firstly, intelligence agents are very careful whom they recruit as spies. A bad spy is a dangerous liability who can bring down an entire network. Recruiting anyone is therefore a risk for an intelligence agency, and hence they’ll only do it if there’s a good reason. Which basically means the individual will need to have access to classified information that would be difficult to acquire by other means.
Corbyn at the time was a back bench MP with known hard left tendencies, prone to rebelling against his own party and running his mouth to the media (or anyone else who came within ear shot). Nobody in government was going to give him access to classified information. And if they did, then the really scandal is which dimwitted Etonian moron gave someone like Corbyn access to such information. So there would be nothing he could tell anyone that their agents couldn’t pick up via a subscription to Private Eye.
Agencies will also need some way of controlling their agents, they need leverage. While yes some on the hard left like Corbyn (during Thatcher and Reagan’s reign of error) had some reason to favour the Soviet union, this would be temporary at best. If labour got into power, he’d quickly turn on them, so it would be dangerous to recruit someone like him. More often than not money can be a useful recruiting tool. It was money problems that drove John Walker, arguably the most damaging spy of the cold war, to betray his country. What’s Corbyn going to spend the money on? More tracksuits? Some runner beans for the allotment?
Above all else an intelligence agency will try to avoid someone who is likely to become a liability or blow his cover. Suffice to say Corbyn is last person you’d want to recruit, as his involvement with anti-war protesters would likely mean he was being watched by MI5. And he’s not exactly streetwise. He’s made numerous unforced errors since coming to office, notably as regards labour’s brexit policy. The idea that he could keep something like this secret (keeping in mind that the relevant files in the eastern block have been a matter of public record for sometime) does not sound plausible.
In short, even if Corbyn walked into a soviet block embassy and offered his services they’ve have likely told him to piss off (more than likely because they mistook him for a tramp!). He is not spy material.
That said, the bosses in charge of the soviet intelligence agencies might have one opinion, but their underlings had a different view. One of the damning indictments of the soviet system was how towards the end western intelligence were running rings around them (which of course makes the whole idea that Corbyn spying hasn’t been picked up until now all the more implausible). Largely because most of those working for Warsaw pact intelligence agencies just wanted to keep their cushy jobs (with all of its perks), while those deployed in the west wanted to stay there and live the life of Reilly.
In that context its not difficult to believe a scenario where Corbyn met a Czech diplomat, whom he was unaware was a spy. He had a general moan about Thatcher, which revealed nothing that couldn’t be found in any newspaper at the time. Said agent, under pressure from his bosses to recruit half of London in a fortnight, reported back how he’d recruited Corbyn (and probably half the labour party too) and gotten his hands on classified information (as his bosses would have no means of telling what was or wasn’t classified information, keep in mind this is the 80’s so no google, he could pretty much make up whatever he wanted). Then to add a layer of plausibility, our spy requested a few grand to pay his new contacts off (which he quickly blew on drugs and hookers). As with Corbyn’s decision to meet with members of the Sinn Fein/IRA, it raises questions about his judgement, but its far from proof of any spying.
Certainly what this episode does betray is the totalitarian tendencies of those on the right. They will automatically assume that anyone who criticises them must be in on some sort of conspiracy. That the CND movement or the miners strike were orchestrated by the soviets (actually the soviet’s were if anything very worried about the consequences if such mass movements spread to their own populace, a justifiable fear given how the Solidarity movement triggered the soviet block’s collapse). And anti-gun campaigners must be agents of China or the Bilderbergers (or something).
You know you’re over the target when you start taking flak. You know the right is in trouble when they start spouting the most outrageous lies and falsehoods.