Is Jeremy Corbyn a former Soviet Spy?

The British opposition leader’s connection to Czech intelligence has given Britain its very own Russiagate

John Ruehl
Feb 20, 2018 · 4 min read
British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn in 2017

Let’s be honest; Jeremy Corbyn is probably not a Soviet spy. The key word in that sentence is probably, which is why the British politician is facing questions from the media, the government, and the public at large. From the BBC

Details of a file held on Mr Corbyn by the StB, the Communist-era Czechoslovakian intelligence agency, were first reported by The Sun almost a week ago.

It reported contacts Mr Corbyn is alleged to have had with Mr Sarkocy, who was working in the Czechoslovakian embassy in London, towards the end of the Cold War in 1986 and 1987.

Czech officials have since told the BBC Mr Corbyn was a “person of interest” to their intelligence agencies but not an informant, contradicting claims reportedly made by Mr Sarkocy.

At the time of these alleged Cold War rendezvous, Czechoslovakia was still a country, having not yet split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The country functioned as a satellite state of the Soviet Union, meaning that Czechoslovakian intelligence was effectively Kremlin intelligence.

Corbyn and the Labour Party have strenuously denied the various claims and allegations that have accompanied the media frenzy — “Labour has acknowledged Mr Corbyn met Czechoslovakian and other diplomats “for a cup of tea” but said Mr Sarkocy’s accounts of his meetings with him had “no credibility whatsoever”. Much like Trump, Corbyn has blamed the press for perpetuating a false narrative, while Prime Minister Theresa May has told Corbyn to “be open” about his past. A self-identified democratic socialist, Corbyn has never explicitly shown any support for communism.

So why should we even be worried? The Soviet Union disintegrated in the early 1990s, and Russia turned from a Communist country controlling all of Eastern Europe into a quasi-capitalist authoritarian state that has steadily lost its former satellite states to the EU and NATO. Communism no longer represents the ideological threat it once did, and Corbyn, if eventually elected, would find it very hard to enact a communist revolution, if he even is a communist.

However, what hasn’t changed is Russia’s distrust of the West, and the Kremlin’s desire to see the western alliance system suffer the same fate as of the Soviet one.

Britain has positioned itself as the offshore balancer of Europe for centuries, doing its best to ensure that no European military power would be able to militarily dominate the continent. Corbyn’s historical distaste for American foreign policy (which Britain’s foreign policy often mirrors) is well-known. If elected, he could throw doubt into the special relationship between the US and UK, as well as Britain’s commitment to maintaining a military balance of power in Europe. This would be a great thing for Russia, but not necessarily the rest of Europe.

Despite the death of communism as a viable political ideology for a modern nation-state, there are plenty of people across the world who still support elements of communism. The end goal of communism is the dismantling of the capitalist world, led by the US and supported by Britain. The end goal of modern Russian foreign policy is the dismantling of the global system led by the US, and supported by Britain. If an alleged communist sympathizer became leader of Britain, this would still bode well for the Kremlin.

The US Senate Intelligence Committee recently disclosed that Russia had played both sides of the American electorate, helping to organize rallies and counter-rallies to pit the left and right against one another. The idea was to sow discord, and ramp up extremist rhetoric on both sides. People unwittingly fell into Russian traps, no matter how independent they thought their beliefs were.

Corbyn may not be a former Soviet communist spy, but perhaps an unwilling participant in Russia’s attempts to destabilize British society. It helps the Kremlin to have his secrets exposed and to have him in a position of power. It does not matter that the Soviet Union is no longer around; Russia will use whatever it can to subvert the west. Whether truthful or not, the allegations against Corbyn are damaging, and it remains to be seen how long Russian intelligence has been aware of his meetings with what was basically the KGB. What we do know is that Putin is gleefully working to exploit this developing political crisis.

John Ruehl

Written by

Clickbait sensationalism and politics, find me on The Interpreter, Intl. Policy Digest, and PoliticsMeansPolitics. Twitter @john_ruehl 💰

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