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/
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
The Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has released a statement paying tribute to Mr Meacher, whom he first met in the early 1970s. He said Mr Meacher had urged him to stand in the leadership contest and given him “huge support”, adding: “He was a valued friend and commentator utterly committed to democracy in our party and movement, as well as in the wider community”.
Green MP Caroline Lucas said Mr Meacher was a “great politician, championing climate action”. She would be remembering his work as Minister of State for the Environment for six years, gaining a fine reputation, well-respected as a skilled negotiator and a minister with full command of his brief. He helped John Prescott to clinch the Kyoto agreement to limit carbon emissions in 1997 and was one of the first in Government to come to grips with the issue of global warming.
As recently as September, on a sister site, we published a summary of Michael Meacher’s analysis of the ‘Corbyn earthquake’
He had noted in a recent Global Research article , that after hi-jacking the party down a route utterly alien to its founders, in order to ingratiate himself with corporate and financial leaders on their terms . . . Tony Blair appears not to understand why the Corbyn earthquake is happening or the passionate resentment which he and New Labour created:
- by laying the foundations for the financial crash of 2008-9 and making the squeezed middle and brutally punished poor pay for it,
- by aligning New Labour alongside the Tories in pursuit of austerity from 2010 onwards, though Osborne’s policy (to shrink the State) has been unsuccessful in reducing the deficit,
- by taking Britain without any constitutional approval into an illegal was with Iraq,
- by introducing into politics the hated regime of spin and manipulation,
- by indulging now his squalid lust for money-making
- and by clearly having no more overriding desire than to strut the world with Bush.
He asked three searching questions
Why did he urge the Blairite MPs to support the government’s welfare bill which opposed every tenet of the real Labour Party?
Why did he push for privatisation of the NHS and other public services?
Why did his acolyte Mandelson say “New Labour is “relaxed at people becoming filthy rich”, and proved it by letting inequality balloon to even higher heights than under Thatcher?
And ended: “He has a lot to learn . . . “
We hope that the result of the forthcoming by-election will reflect the support and hope generated by the new Labour Party leader.
Read the whole article here: http://www.globalresearch.ca/tony-blair-is-living-in-a-state-of-deluded-denial/5473462
As Canadian Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau has confirmed he will withdraw Canadian fighter jets from the air strikes against Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, Michael Ignatieff suggests that he will have an influence on democratic politics even beyond his own country.
Trudeau – like Corbyn – won because Canadians wanted a better approach to politics. After nine years of partisan rancour in the nation’s politics, this set a new tone.
How like our own dear PM
Ignatieff describes Stephen Harper, the Conservative prime minister he defeated, as a master of the politics of enemies: “attacking the patriotism of his opponents; selecting wedge issues to divide the electorate; attacking the vulnerable to solidify support among the comfortable. This reached its nadir when he stoked fears of Muslims and what a member of his team called their “barbaric cultural practices”. Voters en masse rejected the ploy.
PR didn’t work – people are ‘wising up’
Mr Harper unleashed a barrage of negative adverts asserting that “Justin’s just not ready” — but the young candidate proved he was more than ready.
No doubt this negativity will continue in an attempt to bring his time in office to an end- just as the forces of corporate funders, mainstream politicians of all major parties and their media machine continue to bombard Jeremy Corbyn.
Attack opponents for who they are, not for what they say. If you can deny them standing — the right to get a hearing at all — you need not even bother with their arguments
Ignatieff says that Harper imported most of the elements of the ‘politics of enemies’ from the US – and ‘perfected their application in a British-style parliamentary democracy’
If a prime minister wants a quiet life, he keeps his MPs on a tight leash
As Ignatieff warns, the desire for democratic reform that the Trudeau/Corbyn campaigns have evoked may challenge their own authority.
He adds that if they want to revive parliamentary democracy, they must loosen the leash, allow free votes, empower parliamentary committees, open the doors of parliament to the people, reach out to them online, release documents to foster democratic debate and embark on the perilous path of electoral reform.
A Moseley reader sent this link to an article by Peter Oborne. Passages relating to foreign policy are extracted
Since the rise of the modernisers, there has been a very troubling consensus on foreign affairs. Tory and Labour have agreed that, come what may, Britain would never defy the will of the United States. This consensus led Britain into the double follies of Afghanistan and Iraq, which was the biggest and most terrible foreign policy calamity of modern British history. When the Chilcot report is finally published, it is certain to provide deeply embarrassing details of how the British establishment fawned to Washington.
Elsewhere, there is abundant evidence that Tony Blair’s determination to appease the U.S. caused Britain to forget our values, and facilitate the torture of terror suspects.
While the worst of these excesses took place when Blair was PM, David Cameron has culpably failed to force an investigation into the British role in torture.
Let’s imagine, by contrast, that Jeremy Corbyn had been directing British foreign policy over the past 15 years. British troops would never have got involved in the Iraq debacle, and never have been dispatched on their doomed mission to Helmand province.
British intelligence agents would not be facing allegations that they were complicit in torture.
Hundreds of British troops who died in these Blairite adventures (which were endorsed by Cameron) would still be alive.
Furthermore, the world would now be a safer place. Tony Blair’s invasion of Iraq and David Cameron’s attack on Libya have created huge ungoverned zones of anarchy across the Middle East and North Africa, in which terrorist groups fester and from which migrants flee.
Critical comments follow about John McDonnell, Corbyn’s attitude to Russian President Vladimir Putin, his ‘uncritical’ sharing of platforms with ‘unsavoury people from terrorist groups’ and his failure to recognise that there are times when foreign military intervention can work.
But these serious shortcomings apart, he has brought a wonderful freshness to British politics. And while he has many unpalatable things to say, many need saying. No one who is loathed by the bankers, the BBC and Tony Blair all at once can be that bad.
Corbyn is the first genuinely original party leader to emerge in Britain since a certain Margaret Hilda Thatcher made her first speech to Conservative conference in 1975. Remember: the establishment hated her, too.
Lesley Docksey, the creator of this site’s title, writes “Having sat at the computer and cheered with everyone in that hall as Corbyn’s results were read out, I have rewritten the ending of my Watershed piece. Adjusted article attached, I’ll go lift my glass of wine to the future! After opening with lyrical paragraphs about the watershed image/metaphor, her article, which may be read in full here, has been adapted, with permission, to blog format, with emphasis added.
Corbyn has, quite definitively, won the leadership contest, and the cheer when the figures were announced must have made it clear that he has the majority of the party with him. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a campaign of dirty tricks as the old guard try to overturn the result, but the Labour Party Conference will be, to say the least, interesting – a battle between some grandee MPs and a greatly enlarged and reinvigorated membership.
I have been waiting for this moment for some time, the moment when the English in particular woke up and started talking politics.
I say ‘English’ because the political problem of the Westminster bubble that we face is ‘English’ oriented. Or so the Tories think – keep control of the Shires and we control the country. But as Jeremy Corbyn reminded his audience at the Tolpuddle Festival in July, the English countryside is where trade unionism began. “Don’t write off the countryside as a Tory rural backwater!” he said. No, we shouldn’t forget our radical roots, they run deep and the peasants can still rebel. This island’s domestic history has had several moments of revolt, times when the lowly stood up against the high and mighty.
But they didn’t have what we have – instant news, the ability to travel rapidly across the country, modern communications and social media. Corbyn’s message couldn’t have spread so far and fast without all that.
Watching the Scottish Independence Referendum campaign take fire, following websites like Bella Caledonia and seeing how, despite the No vote, the political conversation went on, becoming deeper, wider and more forward looking, oh, how I envied the Scots! And I wondered what it would take for those of us south of the border to start such a conversation.
If he’s done nothing else, he has helped people to realise what a huge political divide we are living with.
It wasn’t just the bleak inequality we are experiencing that made us sit up. It was the sight of the other three contenders trying desperately to drag us all back into the no-think land of leaving it all to the politicians.
It was, at last, for some people the gut realisation that New Labour was pretty much as rightwing as the Tories.
There is also, I think, the need to reframe the way we think and speak about politics. Corbyn’s last rally focussed on the banner “I voted for a different kind of politics.” And it does seem that the many thousands who flocked to hear him speak were genuinely looking for that kind of change. But we need not just different politics, but a different language in which to express those politics.
Surely, those who voted for Corbyn are sick and tired of being labelled ‘the hard left’, Marxists, Trotskyists and the rest. Is it beyond the wit of mainstream politicians, gazing bemusedly at the tide of people turning towards Corbyn, that what people seek is quite simply something they are not offering?
A very tired ‘politics’ of money, greed, individualism and power is all they have to offer. A politics of humanity is what is sought.
Almost all the words that have been used by party politics have been overused, misused and abused. They are tired and worn ragged, hence the silliness of the phrase ‘the hard left’. Such words no longer hold any credit or any real meaning. We the people, the river, the searchers for the common good, need new words to describe who we are and where we are going.
Broken Britain: Despite what Westminster says, people are not looking back to the old days of Labour. The Tories are doing that in their desire to return all us ‘working people’ back to serfdom. Lords, manors and villains have had their day, but they are being replaced by corporate power. The money, and the land, is still in the hands of the few.
As voting closed on Thursday, Liz Kendal, conceding that her campaign had failed, admitted that Corbyn had started a conversation about Labour Party values that hadn’t been held for many years; but she said, “whoever is elected must recognise no leader has a mandate for untrammelled power.”
But wasn’t that what the Blairites wanted? Even the slightly less Blairite contenders, Burnham and Cooper, wanted to win, win, win.
I find it strange (or is it?) that none of the mainstream Labour MPs seemed to take on board the fact that Corbyn has never sought power; he seeks power for the people, the poor and helpless, the disenfranchised.
For many, when they come to think about it, it will not be important if he is ‘THE LEADER’. What is important are the values and vision that he has connected people to. If it is not too over-the-top, he has become the hillside down which we are all tumbling towards some kind of unity and people-power.
The other puzzling feature for me has been the inability of so many Labour MPs to understand that the Party which they think they run is actually made up of members who all have the right to speak, many of whom are following the vision that Corbyn has offered. And more people, who gave up their membership in disgust over Iraq, will come back if this vision can be maintained.
Maybe the Party will destroy itself, or split; or reform itself beyond Tony Blair’s recognition. But whatever happens to Labour, too many of us have now found which side of the divide we belong; and maybe there are too many of us to be stuffed back into the box. Outside Westminster’s control, we will need the ongoing conversation and a new language.