Corbyn’s failure to close down the IRA story rests on some inconvenient truths..

In the purist world of the most starry-eyed Corbynistas, the saintly Jeremy has no time for spin or subterfuge. That’s what the evil Blairites did, after all.

But when it comes to his past stance on the IRA, spin is exactly what the Labour leader and his fan base have been attempting. Not very well either. So let’s dispense with the myth-making.

The blunt truth is that Jeremy Corbyn and his fellow Labour left travellers campaigned politically for an IRA victory. Comparisons with what Government ministers may have done or who they may have met are bogus.

Jeremy and friends were not simply reaching out, making peace overtures, encouraging dialogue or arguing that republicans must be part of any settlement.

They pushed instead for the full IRA wish list – “troops out”, “British withdrawal”, “an end to British occupation”.

They demanded that Northern Ireland be booted out of the UK, irrespective of what people living there wanted. Its citizens didn’t get a say, as the six counties represented an illegitimate statelet.

Labour Party policy before Blair was for Irish unity by consent. But Corbyn, Abbott, Livingstone et al had no truck with the quaint notion of consent.

So do they now support the consent principle, a foundation stone of the Good Friday Agreement and peace process? Is it too much to expect a British hack to ask that question?

Jeremy has also been at pains to tell us that he knew along there could be no military victory in Northern Ireland.

Fair enough. But more than one side had to learn that lesson.

What kept the IRA military machine going all those years? Did the motivation include a hope that a left wing Labour government might take power and grant them their heart’s desire?

If that didn’t seem entirely fanciful in the 1980s, it was due in no small part to the efforts of Jeremy, Diane and co.

They should at least be up front and straight with us now about what they stood for back in the day. Anything else is just an insult to our intelligence.

And yes of course there are many very weighty matters at stake in this election – like Brexit, austerity, social care for the elderly, the future of our health service.

But the Corbyn camp will have known the IRA issue was going to be raised in this campaign.

 Is the best he can do – after repeated questioning – to say that the “bombing campaign was completely wrong because it was taking civilian lives”?

It was also not entirely unreasonable for Andrew Marr to ask the UK’s Shadow Home Secretary if she still believed “every defeat of the British state is a victory for all of us”.

Likening such views to her “splendid” hairstyle in the 1980s might not necessarily have been the best way to close down the story.