Anyone who thought that the Murdoch Sun was going OTT over a meeting between the current Labour leader and a Czech diplomat over a cup of tea back in 1986 has not been paying attention to the wacko conspiracist fringe Stateside, where handing someone an old copy of the Sunday People has been not merely blown out of all proportion, but reinvented as something John le Carré would not have touched with a bargepole.
No, not a spy, sorry
To no surprise at all, the wacko fringe concerned involves (fortunately) former Tory MP Lousie Mensch and those who consider her credible. The latter category includes someone called John Schindler, who claims to be a former intelligence operative. He has written a totally off the wall piece for the New York Observer, titled modestly “Jeremy Corbyn was a communist spy”. The content is as wacko as the title.
How wacko? Have a look: “a disturbing new report in The Sun reveals that Corbyn was much more than just a left-wing activist in the 1980s - he was spying on his own country for the Warsaw Pact”. Yes? Yes yes? Yes yes yes? “The files in question appear entirely legitimate, and for Corbyn they are damning”. Wow. Do go on.
“Corbyn was exactly the sort of rising Western politico that, in the 1980s, the KGB and its satellite partners like the StB were looking to work with … if the Western pol took a bite, it could be the start of what, to Communist spies, might prove a beautiful relationship. The key here is that Corbyn bit - hard”. Paid for the cups of tea, did he?
It gets worse: “the StB approved working with Corbyn, giving him the covername COB … This is a critical point. The StB, like its KGB mentors, used such covernames to refer to foreign agents in their files to maintain a degree of security”. Yeah, right. COB is hardly secret, is it? Not quite in the same league as Gerald the mole in Tinker, Tailor.
The stuff of nightmares (no, it isn't Ann Coulter. Yet)
You want worse? “Corbyn reportedly warned Dymic about increased British security measures, and he claimed to be ‘very well informed’ of people in contact with ‘anti-Communist agencies.’ In other words, COB was willing to pass British counterintelligence secrets to the StB”. Bullshit. The Czech file claims Corbyn was “very well informed”. Schindler’s conclusion is puerile conspiracist tosh.
So when Schindler concludes “In Western terms, Corbyn was a Communist spy”, he’s away with the fairies. Hell, the Sun’s report was stretching credibility beyond the bounds of elasticity. But Ms Mensch was soon on hand to help. Or bring the house down.
Ready out there? Here she comes: “The evidence is not as you have stated that @jeremycorbyn merely met spies; it is that he gave them classified information on MI5’s progress in hunting down Russia’s assets in the UK (including those of her then client states)”. CLASSIFIED INFORMATION? F*** right off. Jezza passed the Czech diplomat an old copy of the Sunday People. Which their embassy probably had delivered anyway.
You want to know how totally wacko the conspiracist fringe can get Stateside? Look no further than John Schindler and Louise Mensch. For them, saying “Not just Barking but halfway to Upminster” is not sufficient. They have lost touch with reality.
[Czech media has now disputed the Sun story - just for good measure]