Conservatives in the United Kingdom have long criticized Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as a hard-left ideologue who has connections to terrorist organizations like the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). This week, right-leaning British tabloids like The Express and The Daily Mail have published articles detailing how, in the 1980s, Corbyn met several times with Czechoslovak agents when the country was still controlled by the Communist Party.

According to The Sun tabloid, Corbyn was classified as "COB," the code name that Czechoslovak spies gave Corbyn.

Czechoslovak agents found that Cobryn was "anti-American" and "pro-Soviet," which gives further ammunition to Corbyn's critics who find that his politics are too left-wing for a major British political party. The recently released files from the former Czechoslovak secret service also indicate that Corbyn acted as a source for communist agents.

Corbyn has so far denied accusations that he served as a communist agent during the days of the Cold War. According to Mr. Corbyn, the secret agents that he met claimed that they were diplomats. Accordingly, Corbyn says that he had no reason to believe that the men he was meeting with were communist spies. This defense has been seconded by Svetlana Ptacnikova, the top official at the Czech Security Forces Archive.

"Mr. Corbyn was neither a registered as a collaborator, nor does this stem from archive documents," said Ptacnikova.

Political battle

So far, Corbyn and his supporters in the Labour party have denounced this story as a political smear. The harshest thing said against Mr. Corbyn by left-wing news outlets in the UK like The Independent has been that he was "naive" to think that Czechoslovak diplomats could also be intelligence agents.

Many also resist the claims that information on Mr. Corbyn's activities in the 1980s are in the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin. These arguments are based on the fact that the Soviet Union and the KGB, its secret service arm, had access to Czechoslovak files. It has also been repeatedly noted that Mr. Putin was once a KGB agent stationed in East Germany, which once bordered Czechoslovakia.

Tellingly, most of Corbyn's backers have balked only at the idea that he once served as some kind of source for the Czechoslovak secret service. The accusation that Corbyn holds hard-left, potentially pro-communist views have not been thoroughly attacked by Labour party representatives. This could be because Corbyn enjoys popularity among Labour's more radical and youthful factions. Although Britain's largest left-wing party with roots in 19th century socialism, Labour is currently facing internal division between Corbyn's supporters and the more moderate politicians of the New Labour school.

A warmer Cold War

The saga of Jeremy Corbyn highlights the growing sense that the West (including the United States and Great Britain) have entered into a new "Cold War." This time the opponents are a Putinist Russia and a economic titan called China.

As in the case of U.S. President Donald Trump, Corbyn's antagonists allege that his supposed connections to foreign actors disqualifies him from leading Great Britain. This accusation is only likely to grow louder as the next British election gets closer.