Category Archives: Security
People in Iraq, Libya and Yemen are desperate for strong and stable government. Theresa May is partly why they don’t have it, says Steve Beauchampé.
Serious examination of Jeremy Corbyn’s activism shows him to have been on the right side of history and ahead of mainstream public opinion time and again, standing up for anti-racist and anti-apartheid causes, refugees and asylum seekers, gender equality, the LGBT community, environmental issues, animal rights and the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and self-expression long before such things gained widespread acceptance.
Corbyn’s attempts to achieve conflict resolution through dialogue with Irish republicans may at times have been naive, but were his actions so dissimilar to the approach adopted around the same time by MI5 and later by John Major, both of whom ultimately realised that a decades-old conflict, whose death toll was inexorably rising, could not be won solely by military means?
But whilst Jeremy Corbyn’s peripheral rôle in the republican cause has been (and continues to be) pored over and examined by his opponents half a lifetime later, the record and judgement of Theresa May with regard to much more recent UK military interventions requires equally forensic scrutiny given her claims to be a fit and proper person to lead Britain.
History’s judgement on this aspect of Theresa May is unlikely to be generous. After first being elected an MP in 1997, she voted in favour of the 2003 invasion of Iraq (having already supported the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in the frenzied post-9/11 atmosphere). Like so many of her colleagues on the opposition Conservative benches at the time, May failed to hold the Blair government to account despite the widely expressed caution of many experts over both the reasons for going to war and the lack of a post-conflict plan to stabilise Iraq. Instead, May limply and dutifully gave her support. What followed for Iraqis has been almost fifteen years of societal breakdown throughout large parts of this once architectural, cultural and scholastic gem of a nation, with swathes of land occupied until recently by Islamic State and a fracturing of the country along religious, sectarian and tribal lines in a way that will be hard, if not impossible, to heal.
By 2011, and as the then Home Secretary in the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition government, Theresa May backed the Anglo/Franco-led military action in Libya, which despite its billing as merely creating a no-fly zone to protect civilians and rebel fighters, mainly located in the east of the country, quickly escalated into regime change, culminating in the overthrow and lynching of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Again, as a senior government minister Theresa May ignored warnings that historic tribal divisions, the absence of a strong and stable government or a long-term strategic plan would quickly fracture the country. Six years on and Libya exists in little more than name only. There is no central government, armed militias and feudal warlords hold considerable power, whilst every international Islamist terror group of substance now boasts a flourishing branch office in the country from where they increasingly export their murderous ideologies. And every month, if not every week, scores of desperate migrants, people who long ago lost all control of their lives, drown off the Libyan coast whilst seeking something better than the hell that their lives have spiralled into.
Learning nothing from history and the consequences of her own actions, in August 2013 Theresa May supported Prime Minster David Cameron’s unsuccessful attempt to persuade MPs to back UK air strikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The absence yet again of a coherent post-conflict strategy was sufficient for Labour leader Ed Miliband to refuse his party’s support to Cameron, who narrowly lost a House of Commons vote on the issue. The main beneficiaries of such an intervention, with its intention to downgrade Assad’s military capabilities (if not to remove him from power), would likely have been the plethora of extremist groups engaged in the Syrian civil war, principal amongst them the then nascent Islamic State.
Since becoming Prime Minister Theresa May has continued the supply of British made weapons and military expertise to Saudi Arabia for use in its war crime-strewn bombing campaign in Yemen, a campaign which has killed countless numbers of civilians and is fast creating yet another failed state in the region.
Iraq, Libya and increasingly Yemen: countries where British military interventions have created power vacuums swiftly filled by a combination of anarchy, lawlessness, violence and economic depravation, with catastrophic consequences and relentless, unending misery for millions of civilians.
Theresa May supported each and every one of these military interventions. Jeremy Corbyn opposed all of them. So whose judgement would you trust?
May 29th 2017
Written for The BirminghamPress.com, to be online shortly. It Is also available here: https://politicalcleanup.wordpress.com/2017/05/29/general-election-2017-peace-policies-and-foreign-follies/
Labour Party membership (517,000 members in March 2017) is rapidly increasing after the general election was announced. Before:
Yesterday a Wimbledon reader forwarded an email message received from her friend: “Hope you all saw Jeremy Corbyn on Marr this morning. If not, DO catch up on i-player. But I fear for how it’ll be reported in the press”.
The Guardian’s John Crace was flippant/facetious and even-handedly belittled the other contributors. Dan Bloom in the Mirror was thoughtful and informative, itemising three things we learn and three things we didn’t and yet again this paper made available a link to the full transcript. The Mail and Times cherry-picked and hoped to score points on Trident/security/NATO.
Social media snapshot:
Corbyn’s calmness in the face of Marr’s questions, on both foreign and domestic policy was commended by many Twitter users:
Firmly but genially Jeremy Corbyn restrained Andrew Marr’s impetuous interruptions and calmed him down when he ‘jumped in too quickly’. Some appealing ‘soundbites’ include a wish to:
- reduce pay ratios in the public and private sectors;
- ensures universal access to good quality housing, healthcare and education;
- tariff-free trade access to the EU;
- investment bank to increase manufacturing jobs
- work out an immigration system
- and confer with supportive MEPs and colleagues who head EU states (below).
He appears to be the only prime ministerial candidate remarkable for stability, poise, honesty, patience, maturity and goodwill to all – how many more will echo the wish voiced earlier: “I want this man as prime minister!” ?
Two social media discoveries:
The media claim that older voters don’t vote Labour and won’t like Corbyn. Let’s get together to share the over 50s message and show them how wrong they are.
Liam Young, a democratic socialist freelance political writer for the Independent and the New Statesman, writes:
While Corbyn rebelled over academy conversion, foundation hospitals, the Iraq war, tuition fees and detention measures, Blairite MPs have offered their own warped form of ‘principled rebellion’ – airing their anti-Corbyn views in the press and decimating their party.
This is not the sort of rebellion Corbyn ever stood for.
It’s time to get real. Jeremy’s performance (on recent PMQs) has been powerful and statesmanlike and it is important to remember that he is the chosen leader, having taken more than 60% of the votes in leadership elections.
With his clear principles, he is the total opposite of the PM’s hot air. Each PMQs session goes further towards proving that to the British public.
An overlooked draft – still well worth belatedly putting on record.
Taking up the theme covered by Professor Prem Sikka, William Keegan once wrote in the Guardian: “Someone had to come out fighting, and that someone was Jeremy Corbyn . . . Until Corbyn came along, Labour was like a rabbit in the headlights on the subject of austerity”.
William Keegan, who worked in the Bank of England Economics Intelligence Department, as assistant to the Bank’s Governor, then Economics Editor of The Observer and is now their Senior Economics Commentator, continued:
“Students of the cynical, shifty but politically adept George Osborne know that his approach has been to acquiesce, in opposition, in what the Labour government did, then to try to move the so-called “centre ground” to the right when he himself arrived in government.
“The northern powerhouse and manifesto promises about electrification? Forget it! The casual way in which he reneged within days on the Conservative manifesto “commitment” to impose a ceiling on old people’s bills in care homes was outrageous. The attack on the poor in his budget – on which the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies provided chapter and verse – was so brazen that someone had to come out fighting, and that someone was Jeremy Corbyn”.
In August 2015, David Blanchflower, a former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, and fortyone economists, made public their support for Jeremy Corbyn’s policies, dismissing claims that they are extreme:
“The accusation is widely made that Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters have moved to the extreme left on economic policy. But this is not supported by the candidate’s statements or policies. His opposition to austerity is actually mainstream economics, even backed by the conservative IMF. He aims to boost growth and prosperity.”
Keegan continues: “[T]he idea (is) that austerity is required in order not to cheat future generations. The truth is that it is cutting back on public sector investment, which can be financed at negligible interest rates, that actually penalises future generations.
Corbyn had written: “Parliament can feel like living in a time warp at the best of times, but this government is not just replaying 2010, but taking us back to 1979: ideologically committed to rolling back the state, attacking workers’ rights and trade union protection, selling off public assets, and extending the sell off to social housing. This agenda militates against everything the Chancellor says he wants to achieve. If you want to revive manufacturing and rebalance the economy, you need a strategic state leading the way.”
John McDonnell MP, shadow chancellor, said that privatisation had been “a confidence trick”. He said: “Privatisation over the last four decades has been a history of the British people being robbed and the spivs snatching up the public assets being given the licence to print money. From the earliest privatisations of water, energy and rail to the PFI schemes from the last decade, it has been one long confidence trick. Under a Corbyn Labour government this shameful era of governments and ministers colluding in the picking of the taxpayers’ pockets will be brought to an abrupt end.
“Let’s also make it absolutely clear to any speculators in the City looking to make a fast buck at the taxpayers’ expense that if any of these assets are sold by Osborne under their value, a future Corbyn-led Labour government will reserve the right to bring them back into public ownership with either no compensation or with any undervaluation deducted from any compensation for renationalisation.”
A Jamaican contact asks if 60+ serving MPs from the Cabinet of 2003 have the moral right to represent their constituents
An article on his blog ends: “As we digest the contents and impact of Chilcot’s report, I am reminded of the late Brian Haw (1949-2011) who lived in front of the Houses of Parliament for almost 10 years protesting against the Iraq War”.
A belated post: in July African Herbsman wrote: “One of the sad aspects of the Chilcot report is that most of its content was known at the time leading up to the Iraq War in 2003, through Whitehall & various media sources – e.g. Govt leaks, Private Eye magazine and documentaries made by Panorama and Dispatches”. He continues:
“That is why – with the exception of the late Robin Cook – Tony Blair’s cabinet of 2002-3 must also shoulder blame for their support for the war. Former cabinet ministers such as Jack Straw, Jack Cunningham, David Blunkett, Margaret Beckett, Stephen Byers, Geoff Hoon and Deputy PM John Prescott are as culpable as Tony Blair”.
Now some of those ex-ministers are expressing various forms of denial, but the author is unrelenting: “Today, they say they didn’t have all the facts or felt shut out by Tony Blair at the time. Yet these ministers voted to commit young men and women to an illegal war. Unforgivable”.
African Herbsman, who formerly worked in Whitehall, continues:
“These cabinet and backbench Labour MPs voted for war only to boost their career prospects within the government. Gordon Brown was told bluntly that if he did not publicly support the war he would not succeed Tony Blair as PM.
“Today, almost 70 of those Labour MPs who voted in 2003 are still in the House of Commons. Yet most of them have said little about Chilcot’s report or even apologised for their selfish act. The majority of whom are plotting the bring the current leader Jeremy Corbyn down via Angela Eagle – who voted for the war.
“Some Labour MPs did their devious best to block the setting up of the Chilcot Inquiry. Some tried restricting the Inquiry’s terms of reference and even delay the report’s release.
“Do any of those MPs have the moral right to represent their constituents following such poor judgement and its consequences?
“Friday morning 2 May 1997, was one of the happiest days to be in London. The sun was out and Labour had defeated John Major’s Tory government the night before. We couldn’t believe that for some of us we were witnessing a Labour government in our adult lives. But Tony Blair, his cabinet colleagues, his inner circle and pro-war backbench MPs just blew the goodwill they were given to make the UK a proud, honest and prosperous society”.
Well before the election, MP Caroline Lucas wrote an inspiring open letter to Jeremy Corbyn: “I can help you build a progressive majority”
Written in September 2015, found in drafts: well worth publishing
In the space of just a few weeks you’ve brought something into your party that’s been missing for far too long: hope.
I’ve never felt so optimistic about a potential leader of the Labour Party. For the first time in my memory, the party of Keir Hardie and Clement Attlee looks likely to be led again by someone who dares to stand up for the radical changes demanded by the challenges we face.
I’ve shared many platforms with you, from opposing Britain’s disastrous and bloody war in Iraq to supporting investment in the economy in place of relentless and cruel austerity. Your inspiring campaign has put so many of our shared values into the centre of the debate in British politics.
The beauty of this moment, and what scares the political establishment most, is that the power of your campaign is coming from thousands of grassroots voices – not a diktat from above.
It hardly seems a coincidence that the first truly democratic leadership election in your party’s recent history is producing such a powerful resurgence in optimism. People do indeed vote differently when they know their vote counts.
However, to fully embrace this moment – and if Labour is to truly become part of a movement rather than remain just a machine – it’s crucial to recognise the multi-party nature of modern British politics.
No one party has a monopoly on wisdom, or is capable of making the transformation alone: a diversity of progressive voices is essential for our democracy.
Greens, for example, bring vital and distinctive issues to the table – most crucially, and at the heart of our politics, is the fundamental belief that a new social contract will only ever be possible if it’s built upon the foundations of “one planet living”. Without a safe climate at the heart of our policymaking, progressive politics won’t ever take root. Indeed, there is no better argument for abandoning tribalism than the looming climate crisis we face.
If we’re going to stabilise our environment and build a secure economy that serves our children and grandchildren, we have to work together.
For that reason, one of my few disappointments about your campaign is that it hasn’t focused more on reforming our ailing democracy
A truly progressive politics fit for the 21st century requires a voting system which trusts people to cast a ballot for the party they believe in.
If you do win this contest I believe you should take this opportunity – and the huge amount of momentum behind you – to call a constitutional convention to allow people across the country to have a say in remodelling Britain for the future. A convention has the potential to energise even more people than your leadership campaign, or the Green surge, and to inspire the kind of feeling across the UK that swept Scotland in 2014.
In the short term, for the next general election – which will still be contested under First Past the Post – my personal view is that there is potential in considering local grassroots electoral pacts where progressive candidates are standing . . . It’s only by winning that we have the chance to implement positive change.
By working together in the coming weeks and months we can continue to build upon the movement you’ve played such a huge role in creating.
Not only can we provide real economic alternatives to austerity, defend the trade unions and make the argument for urgent climate action, but we can also start to imagine an entirely different future – of a new social settlement, an economy that provides decent pay and allows people to flourish outside of work too. Crucially, a new politics will provide a constitutional framework which hands power from Westminster back into the hands of voters
The old politics is crumbling, not just in Britain but across our continent. We now have the chance to embrace a movement based not on greed or fear, but on resilient local communities, people working together and a stable economy that works for generations to come. I truly hope you win the contest on 12 September – and I look forward to continuing to work with you to bring about the progressive politics that has inspired us both for so many years.
Green MP for Brighton Pavilion
- academy conversion,
- foundation hospitals,
- the Iraq war,
- tuition fees
- and detention measures,
Blairite MPs have offered their own warped form of ‘principled rebellion’ – airing their anti-Corbyn views in the press and decimating their party. This is not the sort of rebellion Corbyn ever stood for.
The Times reports that in Pienaar’s Politics Louise Haigh, a Shadow Cabinet office minister with an eye to the future, came to the fore, distancing herself from the Labour leader: “I would not have anything to do with Stop the War. I would have advised him not to [go],” she told Pienaar’s Politics on Radio 5 Live.
However, Richard Burgon, the shadow City minister (below right), commented that he thought Stop the War had “got it right” by marching against UK intervention in Iraq and Libya.
A for effort: Times rumour
There are ‘fears’ that Mr Corbyn could be preparing to have Ken Livingstone ennobled and ‘swept’ into his shadow cabinet. A spokesman for Mr Corbyn said: “There have been no discussions on peerages or names.”
However, despite the best efforts of media and politicians, support for Corbyn is increasing by clapometer standards – and some polls
On Bath’s Question Time TV programme, the audience enthusiastically applauded Jeremy Corbyn. When asked by presenter David Dimbleby whether “this audience is entirely supporting Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party”, attendees at the weekly politics programme clapped and cheered enthusiastically.
Cambridge Professor of Classics, Mary Beard spoke for many. She said that Corbyn had behaved with a “considerable degree of dignity” against claims he faces a hostile media: “Quite a lot of what Corbyn says I agree with, and I rather like his different style of leadership. I like hearing argument not soundbites. If the Labour Party is going through a rough time, and I’m sure it is rough to be in there, it might actually all be to the good. He might be changing the party in a way that would make it easier for people like me to vote for.”
The thinking public showed their support at this and other events and only a minority of Labour members – 32% – supported airstrikes against ISIS in Syria and only 30% of members and supporters told YouGov in a survey of LabourList readers that they support airstrikes. Corbyn’s approval ratings among Labour voters, including those who are not members of registered supporters, is at 56%.
As Liam Young says, “It’s time to get real. Jeremy’s performance during the last PMQs was powerful and statesmanlike and it is important to remember that he is the chosen leader, having taken more than 60% of the votes in leadership elections. With his clear principles, he is the total opposite of Cameron’s hot air. Each PMQs session goes further towards proving that to the British public”.
Extracts from the Plastic Hippo site:
After all this time it seems that it is the electorate that decides the outcome of an election and not the media, the chattering classes floating high above us in the Westminster bubble or even this new-fangled social media malarkey.
It is outrageous that voters should overturn the decision of political commentators, pundits, hacks, pollsters and generously funded spin doctors.
This is a situation, my friends, that threatens national security and the very future of parliamentary democracy. We need Gulags to treat these mentally unstable deviants and re-educate them to vote correctly . . .
The media and all the other political parties and some elements of the Parliamentary Labour Party styled the by election as a grand “referendum” on an unelectable Labour leader and informed us with certainty that the weird, beardy terrorist sympathiser would be history within days. The character assassination of Corbyn was unrelenting as vultures circled a dead man crawling.
With some Labour MPs putting much more effort into deposing their own leader than they ever did to remove Cameron, his end seemed inevitable
It is true that the debate on airstrikes over Syria displayed parliament at its best. Sombre, considered and, for the most part, dignified, the contributions from MPs from all parties gave an alternative to the usual Punch and Judy shouting match.
Corbyn, after defying the party whip on so many occasions, offered his MPs a free vote; the other parties did not
The new rules of engagement in politics clearly state that the words “our brave” must be used in advance of the words “armed forces” and the words “barbaric” and “death cult” must be used before and after any reference to “IS/ISIL/ISIS/Daesh”. Failure to do so is taken as clear evidence of terrorist sympathies. Similarly, any reference to Jeremy Corbyn must be prefaced by a scornful yet dismissive put down.
But so far Corbyn sounds like he is talking quite a bit of sense
It may be sacrilegious to suggest but so far Corbyn sounds like he is talking quite a bit of sense. He said in an interview that Labour MPs should listen to constituents, vote with their conscience and not hide behind a party whip.
Yet again, his words were deliberately and maliciously misinterpreted and headlines and sound bites went along the lines of: “Corbyn threatens Labour MPs” – “No hiding place for rebels who defy Comrade Jeremy”. It all became rather silly.
Those that spoke in favour of bombing did so with compassion and more than a little conscience. Hilary Benn in particular delivered an astonishingly powerful speech supporting the motion but his conclusion, sadly, missed the basic premise.
The basic premise is that without a clear strategy, cogent tactical objectives and any thought given to an achievable exit plan, bombing will escalate the problem and will result in further atrocities
The oratory was brilliant but the logic is flawed. Benn, and others in the Labour Party, have been fooled by Cameron and have signed up for yet another intractable and endless Middle Eastern war.
There are cynics that might suggest that some Labour MPs did not vote for bombing Syria but instead voted for bombing Corbyn, but that is clearly barking mad Trotsky propaganda
The claims and counter-claims of bullying, harassment, intimidation and threats from various factions within the Labour Party has turned the news agenda away from joining in with an air war into a story about the divisions within Labour.
ISIL and the Tories are delighted
The chattering classes were as wide of the mark as a bomb landing on a school rather than a terrorist training camp. The narrative has undergone a suddenly change and now the media talk of “local issues” and a “popular candidate” rather than a judgement on Corbyn . . . Earlier in the week the BBC helpfully pointed out that 25% of the Oldham electorate were of Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin and our intrepid reporter stated that they were worried about having their state benefits removed. That must have been a very thorough survey.
When the result was declared the BBC inaccurately reported a reduced majority and the next day ran three voxpops from Oldham voters complaining about Corbyn – the Plastic Hippo then debunks this, giving the stats seen on this graphic:
He ends: “Only a complete fool would attempt to tell the public what to think or to tell them how to vote and only a complete fool assumes that the public are inherently foolish and therefore easily fooled.
“As the current government continues to treat us with contempt, a credible opposition is needed more than ever and the squabbling egos in the Labour Party need to be reminded that unity is strength . . .”
Read in full here:
- Or see: https://twitter.com/theplastichippo
- Or re NHS and Jeremy Hunt (apart from the last sentence) https://theplastichippo.wordpress.com/2015/11/21/trust-nhs/#more-4917: “When it comes to trust, and I might be alone in this, I would prefer to have a qualified medical professional with years of experience wielding the scalpel than some shifty politician who seems only capable of opening brown envelopes from Murdoch, the drug companies and private health insurance corporations. We must all join together in the sincere wish that Jeremy Hunt does not fall ill and require the attention of NHS staff. They, or course, would provide the very best of medical care and do all in their powers to make him well again just as they do for the rest of us.”
Extracted from the Independent
The West robs South America, Africa and the Middle East continually and relentlessly. And in another two years, the top 1% of British society will have more money than the other 99% combined. Like Corbyn, I want to see a necessary and appropriate redistribution of wealth, and I want to see refugees treated like human beings.
The media are the same, controlled by a handful of powerful men. Corbyn has them panicked, and telling lies is their weapon of choice. You can see that in the pernicious response to Corbyn in the supposedly liberal media. He is yet to be given a fair chance.
And I can’t accept criticisms of Corbyn’s age, either. When he was 88 years old, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was named by Forbes as the most powerful man in the Middle East. Manmohan Singh was Prime Minister of India until the age of 82.
I served in the Air Raid Precautions Service, and I don’t doubt Corbyn’s patriotism, despite what the papers said after the Remembrance service. Considering Corbyn’s 30 years of intensely democratic disagreement with the Conservatives as a socialist, the unworthy and scurrilous bleat that he is a danger to Britain is risible. He can make Britain great again by aiding the stricken.
Personally, I think Corbyn will survive attacks by the media and from within his party, but I don’t know whether he can win a national vote outright. And so, instead, we’ve got to do things how they do in Ireland. The leftist Irish party Fianna Fáil held power for many years, and then many different parties all joined together and got government in a coalition.
If Corbyn can form a coalition with the smaller left-wing parties, then I think he stands a chance of being elected. But it all depends on the support of people like me and you.
Corbyn has been called a throwback to last century. But think about all that was done back then: the National Health Service, the welfare state.
I wouldn’t call the Corbyn surge a throwback. I’d call it a resurrection of ideals.