At least some of Dangerous Hero—the new biography of Jeremy Corbyn by “investigative journalist” Tom Bower—is made up.
According to Bower, after Corbyn gave his leader’s speech to the 2016 Labour conference in Liverpool “the next stop was a Socialist Workers event”. There—“among Trotskyites”—Corbyn condemned the US’s war on Syria, defended Isis fighters, and criticised Islamophobic laws.
No such event ever took place, except perhaps in Bower’s mind. Corbyn hasn’t been at any Socialist Worker event since he was elected Labour leader.
And the few details Bower gives of this meeting come from a 2014 parliamentary committee, which it takes about five seconds to discover on Google.
Aside from that, we’re sure the rest of Bower’s book is entirely accurate. Even if it is based heavily on guesswork, conjecture and the author’s imagination.
Bower believes he’s uncovered a startling truth about Corbyn—that he’s a Marxist, Stalin-sympathising Trotskyist with a secret plan to turn Britain communist.
It’s all down to the few months that Bower claims Corbyn spent as a teenager in Guyana in 1968.
Bower says he doesn’t know what Corbyn did in Guyana. But he speculates that with the help of the Guyanese Marxist historian and activist Walter Rodney, Corbyn “could have flown to Cuba via Mexico”.
There’s no evidence that Corbyn and Rodney ever met. But they were supposedly both briefly in Guyana—a country roughly the size of Britain—at the same time, and that’s good enough for Bower.
“The extent of his Marxist education in Guyana remains unknown,” Bower writes, before adding that the whole story is “partly romanticised and possibly an invention.” Quite.
Bower ploughs on, fully convinced that Corbyn is now a Marxist.
He seems particularly troubled by Corbyn’s defence of migrants and immigration. The book is littered with euphemistic references to Corbyn’s support among “immigrant communities”.
After first being elected MP for instance, we’re told, “Corbyn’s door was open to a tide of misery—Cypriots, Jamaicans, Indians, Pakistanis, South Africans, South Americans, Somalis, West Saharans and Kurds all sought his help.”
The casual bigotry doesn’t stop at that.
On introducing Diane Abbott, the first point Bower makes—after the customary comment on her physical appearance—is that, “She would always blame ‘the system’ for the educational failure of black British children, never their parents or her own community.”
Similarly Bower claims that as a councillor responsible for housing, Corbyn’s first wife Jane Chapman “instead allocated homes to gays and single mothers” rather than “families in need”.
Bower explains that Labour’s antisemitism crisis is down to the left’s links to Muslim groups in the Stop the War Coalition, and his support for Palestinians.
“In approving Corbyn as the group’s vice-chair, the Coalition’s Muslim members assumed that his anti-Zionism chimed with their antisemitism.”
Evidence of Corbyn’s antisemitism is mostly based on his condemnation of Israel’s wars on Palestinians, and his refusal to accept Israel’s right to Palestinian land.
Bower pushes the point further in a chapter on “Jew-Haters,” in which he describes protests by “aggressive Muslim students”.
Bower does add his own explanation into the mix. As a union official, Corbyn once organised strikes against businesses, some of them owned by Jewish people.
And on that basis alone, Corbyn is accused of believing in “the malign collective power of Jews”.
It really is that lazy—and it seems incredible that such a preposterous book could ever be taken seriously.
But British politics is full of people making stuff up about the left at the moment. So Bower gets away with it.