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In an 7 August interview with Sky News, Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the British Labour Party, has taken a very predictable, non-condemning line on the recent violence in Venezuela. In a blanket statement, Corbyn condemned:

Violence done by all sides… I am very sad at the lives that have been lost in Venezuela, the people who have died, either those in the streets, or security people that have been attacked by people on the street. Those lives are terrible, the loss of them… There has to be a dialogue and a process that respects the independence of the judiciary and respects the human rights of all.

When directly asked if he condemns President Maduro’s actions, Corbyn deflected, saying:

What I condemn is the violence done by any side, by all sides… violence is not going to solve the issues.

What makes Corbyn’s position on this shaky, is his strict adherence to the Maduro, and preceding Chavéz, governments, that have held political power since 1999. Labour has a history of actively supporting the kind of policy implemented in Venezuela, holding it up for emulation in Great Britain. So while Corbyn is urging “dialogue” to solve the problems in Venezuela, his grudging admission that:

the problems of Venezuela are partly structural, because not enough has been done to diversify the economy away from oil,

points out the possibility that 18 years of Socialist rule have been quite disastrous. That Corbyn can square that with his stressing of the

effective and serious attempts to reduce poverty, improve literacy and the lives of the poor in Venezuela,

betrays a specific insight into the workings of an economy. Meanwhile, it lays bare a serious split within the Labour Party itself. On the one hand, some Labour MPs urge Corbyn to personally condemn Maduro for locking up opposition leaders and violating human rights. At the same time, Labour MP Chris Williamson can be heard blaming the United States for “aiding and abetting” opposition protestors. This in line with long time Labour support for Venezuela:

According to The Guardian, political rivals have seized on Corbyn’s statement to attack him, with international development secretary, Priti Patel asking:

Despite the destitution and the depravity of Maduro’s government, Corbyn fails to criticise Maduro. What will it take for Corbyn to finally urge Maduro to stop the violence, the human rights abuses, the poverty and the killings?

Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats, took aim at the hypocrisy in Corbyn’s stance, saying:

The whole idea that Chávez and his successor could serve as a dry run for government in the UK is absolutely horrifying. The leadership of the Labour party must make it abundantly clear that they have ended their infatuation with the Venezuelan regime.