By not condemning Vladimir Putin’s Russian government for the nerve agent attack, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has risked his own political career and, in turn, the future of the newly emerged hard left Labour Party.
Or has he?
What I mean is, has he actually done wrong other than ask to see the evidence before condemning a world superpower?
There can be no doubt that a few days ago in Salisbury there was an attempt to murder two people using a military grade nerve agent, but as yet that is all we really know and that, it seems, is all the experts really know.
Out of this vacuum of known facts regarding the source and direct perpetrators, we are told that this is the work of (cue Sylvester Stallone’s gravelly ‘Rambo’ voice) ‘the Russians’, whilst on the other side we hear conspiracy theories abounding that this is the work of anyone from Mossad and the Russian mafia to a means by the establishment to keep us in the EU.
If, and I mean if, the Russian government is not directly to blame but the nerve agent in question used in the Salisbury attack on Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal originated in Russia, then surely having the one man (Vladimir Putin) who would be able to assist in tracing the origin of this ‘Novichok’ (Russian for ‘newcomer’) nerve agent and those that are responsible for this heinous act, should not be alienated.
This is a reasonable assumption by Jeremy Corbyn, but it is also a gamble when dealing with such an emotive issue as nerve agents being used on the streets of the UK.
This gamble by Corbyn is a big one that has two outcomes:
Firstly, if he is right and there is a third party involvement in the attack then Corbyn is the next British Prime Minister.
Secondly though, if Corbyn is wrong, he will sink to the bottom of the political ocean and take the hard left Labour Party with it.
With numerous sides having so many motives for this attack, Jeremy Corbyn may very well come out the other end of this as the man of reason, after all we have been dragged into a long and protracted war in Iraq based on very dodgy evidence before, so why are we in such a hurry to commit ourselves today to an accusatory stance without the full facts being available to parliament?
This is not to say Vladimir Putin is not behind the attack in Salisbury, but this is a game of name and shame on an international level with a nuclear power, which might just backfire and this is where Jeremy Corbyn has also made political capital.
However, he did misjudge the mood of both the public and parliament when linking austerity to espionage and this might just be his undoing.