Controversies such as the wreath row will keep happening unless the Labour leader defends himself candidly and in full
Jeremy Corbyn did an event in Stoke last night, and a reporter interviewed some of the 400 or so supporters who had turned out to hear him. Among other things, Lewis Goodall of Sky News sought their views on “wreathgate”, the ongoing row about the ceremony Corbyn attended in Tunis in 2014. “Everyone we spoke to agreed,” Goodall wrote afterwards. “Corbyn is being smeared, Labour does not have a problem with antisemitism and that the whole thing is largely concocted by the media and Tories.” Two party members, entirely separately, said accusations against Corbyn were clearly baseless because the Labour leader had “won the Nobel peace prize”.
One of the more useful phrases of our time is “tribal epistemology,” the notion that what people know is increasingly linked to the group they identify with. The wreath row has been a case in point. There is no single, agreed set of facts on which the various sides hold different opinions. Instead, among those most heatedly involved, the facts or evidence people see and don’t see depend on their tribal or factional affiliation.