At a Time when Margaret Thatcher was calling Nelson Mandela a terrorist, and a young David Cameron was living it up on all expenses paid tours around apartheid South Africa, Jeremy Corbyn was being roughed up and arrested for blockading the South African embassy in London.

Is this a photo of Jeremy Corbyn, and is it photoshopped in any way? Was he arrested, and if so was it for blockading the South African embassy? Did this happen at a time when David Cameron was touring South Africa, and was Margaret Thatcher the Prime Minister then?

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    Where did you read the caption? Did it not give a date for the photo? Commented May 15, 2017 at 14:39
  • @ColonelPanic Facebook and no.
    – Tim
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 14:40
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    @Separatrix As an op-ed, that Telegraph article could be the source for some additional claims about what Corbyn does or does not believe, but as an op-ed it serves poorly as evidence. I don't think controversial claims that Corbyn supports Hamas belong in an answer on Corbyns contemporary views of the ANC, but feel free to post additional questions if you think such claims deserve the same scrutiny as the present one.
    – gerrit
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 19:24
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    @Separatrix But sure, if you wish: Cameron accepted money from a pro-Apartheid lobby group to visit South Africa. Corbyn accepted money from an allegedly pro-Hamas group to visit Palestine. The former is addressed by the question; the latter is not. Note that the Telegraph article does not claim that Corbyn supported Hamas except in its header.
    – gerrit
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 19:34
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    @gerrit, yes I did have that backwards. Who supports what and which behaviours is not for us to say. What we can say is that Corbyn has consistently maintained dialogue with persons and groups considered to be terrorists by the majority along with publicly calling them his friends. In some cases (ANC) he was shown to be potentially correct, in others (Hamas, Hezbollah) he has apologised for his position.
    – Separatrix
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 20:06

1 Answer 1


Yes, photo and caption are essentially accurate.

Some details are not entirely accurate: the arrest was in 1984, the Thatcher quote in 1987, and Cameron's trip in 1989. And although Thatcher labelled the ANC as terrorist, she also pressed the South African president to release Mandela. See below for details.

The photo shows Corbyn under arrest.

Yes, this does show Jeremy Corbyn at an anti-Apartheid protest on 22 July 1984, according to the University of Leicester:

The photograph shows Corbyn being arrested on an anti-apartheid protest in 1984 - and was originally ‘discovered’ through Dr Gavin Brown's “Non-Stop Against Apartheid” research project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust.


"Jeremy Corbyn was one of a small number of politicians who was arrested alongside less famous protesters. In doing so, he helped to defeat the police ban and reinstate anti-apartheid protests in front of South Africa House - where they could have maximum impact on the representatives of the apartheid regime in Britain.

It is probably difficult to objectively determine whether he was “roughed up”, as this term is rather vague. It appears he did not leave voluntarily, and that the police used force to remove him from the protest. This may or may not be considered “roughed up”.

Thatcher called the ANC terrorist (but was more ambiguous about Mandela)

Yes, Margaret Thatcher did refer to the ANC, led by Mandela, as terrorist, but was more ambiguous about Mandela. From a 1987 interview transcribed at margaretthatcher.org:

Just before you, I just remembered I did not answer the second part of the previous question put to me about the ANC, when the ANC says that they will target British companies. This shows what a typical terrorist organisation it is. I fought terrorism all my life and if more people fought it, and we were all more successful, we should not have it and I hope that everyone in this hall will think it is right to go on fighting terrorism. They will if they believe in democracy.

In this interview, she was talking about the ANC in general, and not about Nelson Mandela specifically. 3 years prior, in 1984, she reportedly harangued [the South African President] on why he should let Mandela out of prison. I will leave open the interpretation of those two observations (I'm not sure how to interpret it myself).

David Cameron accepted a paid-for trip to South Africa

According to The Independent:

David Cameron accepted an all-expenses paid trip to apartheid South Africa while Nelson Mandela was still in prison, an updated biography of the Tory leader reveals today.

The trip by Mr Cameron in 1989, when he was a rising star of the Conservative Research Department, was a chance for him to "see for himself" and was funded by a firm that lobbied against the imposition of sanctions on the apartheid regime.

Note that this was 5 years later than Corbyn's arrest, so Cameron was not in South Africa at the exact moment of Corbyn's arrest (or at least not on the funded trip), but both happened during the "Thatcher era" of British politics, so it depends on ones interpretation of "at a time" whether one considers this true or partly true.

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    @DavidRicherby 'roughed up' is a pretty vague phrase, the photo shows him being strong armed by the police which is a synonym of being roughed up. He probably wasn't beaten with a phone book while in police custody but we will never know for sure.
    – daniel
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 9:33
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    It is worth noting that your quote of Thatcher calling the ANC "a typical terrorist organisation" comes from 1987. Curiously, in 1984, the year new MP Jeremy Corbyn was photographed, Thatcher was pressing South African president P W Botha to release Mandela independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/…
    – Henry
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 14:29
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    @Henry Curious indeed. I agree that both observations are worth noting as they seem to suggest Thatchers views on Mandela may have been more subtle than her views on the ANC overall.
    – gerrit
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 14:42
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    The political problem with calling Mandela himself a "terrorist" was that he had been in jail so long (2 decades) that claiming there was any recent terrorist act he had any hand in would have been more an indication of Government incompetence in incarcerating him than a smirch on Mandela's character.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 14:57
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    @jpmc26 The government had specifically prohibited to protest outside the South African embassy, which is exactly what Corbyn and others did. I didn't describe this in my answer because I think the why of the arrest is beyond the scope of the question/claim.
    – gerrit
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 23:57

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