In a week that saw movie metaphors make a surprise entrance into the political fray, there was another piece of Westminster intrigue that could have come straight out of a James Bond film. Jeremy Corbyn has been cast in the role of a 1980’s communist spy after allegations by a former member of the Czech Secret Police. Dismissed as “politically motivated,” “absurd and hallucinogenic” by the Labour Leader, Corbyn is said to have met with the ex-Czech agent on numerous occasions, even being accused by Tory MP Ben Bradley of “selling British secrets to Communist spies.”
So outlandish are these claims, you would be forgiven for dismissing them as more fitting for our ‘Fun and Gossip’ section, but it has rumbled on for a week and remains in the headlines. While the episode allowed the PM a moment of good humour during PMQ’s, when May said “Normally he stands up and asks me to sign a blank cheque, I know he likes Czechs but really that is terribly depressing,” in reality it has done little to damage Corbyn. In fact, it may even strengthen his hand, playing into the narrative that he is treated unfairly in the press and is hated by the establishment.
If we have learnt anything from the last few years it’s that exactly this kind of sentiment, of yearning for someone, something out from the established norms, can swing public opinion in unexpected directions. Mr Corbyn has now survived leadership challenges, shadow cabinet resignations and allegations of spying on his own country, so perhaps James Bond was wrong when he said ‘You Only Live Twice.’