The need to choose friends carefully

Voting in the Labour Party's leadership contest is due to start soon, with ballot papers expected to arrive by post this morning. According to the BBC, the left-wing candidate Jeremy Corbyn is still regarded as a clear favourite. But his left-wing views are a point of concern for many.

Yesterday former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown warned that the party has to be electable. “And if I’m right that we need global alliances then don’t tell me … that we can do much for the poor of the world if the alliances we favour most are with Hezbollah, Hamas, Hugo Chavez’s successor in Venezuela and Vladimir Putin’s totalitarian Russia.”

In this warning Gordon Brown referred to a comment made by Jeremy Corbyn in a speech in 2009, in which he referred to representatives of Hezbollah and Hamas as ‘friends’. More recently Mr Corbyn has had the opportunity to explain what he meant by his use of that word ‘friends’.

But whatever may have been meant in 2009, of more concern are current views about Hezbollah and Hamas. Is it appropriate to think of two terrorist organisations, which are committed to violent opposition of Israel, as friends who are part of a peace process in the Middle East?