The Tories are in helpless, floundering chaos over Brexit and on Thursday Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson gave a foolish, shallow speech that only emphasised the hypocrisy and intellectual bankruptcy of Tory thinking.
The absence of statesmanship and leadership within the government could not be clearer.
By contrast, in a speech today at the United Nation’s Geneva headquarters, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will lay out the four greatest threats to our common humanity – and his vision for a new approach.
One based on solidarity, international cooperation and human rights and with the greatest prize of all: the “survival of our common humanity”.
Corbyn will say the four threats are:
- the growing concentration of unaccountable wealth and power in the hands of a tiny corporate elite
- climate change
- the refugee crisis
- a “bomb first, think later” approach to resolving conflict.
He will state that following last year’s EU referendum, Britain “is at a crossroads” where “we have to rethink our role in the world”.
A different future
Rejecting those who “want to use Brexit to turn Britain in on itself” or “to put rocket boosters under our current economic system’s insecurities and inequalities”, he will say that Labour “stands for a completely different future when we leave the EU, drawing on the best internationalist traditions of the labour movement and our country.”
He will declare that “international cooperation, solidarity and collective action” are the values we are determined to project in our foreign policy.”
Corbyn will also call for an end to “impunity for corporations that violate human rights or wreck our environment” and announce that the next Labour government will work to create a legally binding treaty to regulate global corporations, their subsidiaries and suppliers under international human rights law.
Unaccountable corporate power
Corbyn is expected to say:
The dominant global economic system is broken. It is producing a world where a wealthy few control 90 percent of global resources; of growing insecurity and grotesque levels of inequality within and between nations; where more than 100 billion dollars a year are estimated to be lost to developing countries from corporate tax avoidance; where $1 trillion dollars a year are sucked out of the Global South through illicit financial flows.
This is a global scandal. The most powerful international corporations must not be allowed to continue to dictate how and for who our world is run.
Thirty years after structural adjustment programmes first ravaged so much of the world, and a decade after the financial crash of 2008, the neoliberal orthodoxy that delivered them is in crisis. This moment – a crisis of confidence in a bankrupt economic system and social order – presents us with a once in a generation opportunity to build a new economic and social consensus which puts the majority in the driving seat.
Global tax dodging scandal
As the Paradise and Panama Papers have shown, the super-rich and powerful can’t be trusted to regulate themselves. Multinational companies must be required to undertake country-by-country reporting, while countries in the Global South need support now to keep hold of the billions being stolen from their people.
So the next Labour government will seek to work with tax authorities in developing countries, as Zambia has with NORAD, the Norwegian aid agency, to help them stop the looting.
Tomorrow is International Anti-Corruption Day. Corruption isn’t something that happens ‘over there’ – our government has played a central role in enabling the corruption that undermines democracy, and violates human rights. It is a global issue that requires a global response.
When people are kept in poverty while politicians funnel public funds into tax havens, that is corruption – and a Labour Government will act decisively on tax havens, introducing strict standards of transparency for crown dependencies and overseas territories, including a public register of owners, directors, major shareholders and beneficial owners for all companies and trusts.
Our planet is in jeopardy. Global warming is undeniable. The number of natural disasters has quadrupled since 1970.
So I ask Governments in the most polluting countries, including in the UK:
First, to expand their capacity to respond to disasters around the world. Our armed forces – some of the best trained and most highly skilled in the world – should be allowed to use their experience to respond to humanitarian emergencies. Italy is among those leading the way, with its navy becoming a more versatile and multi-role force.
Second, to factor the costs of environmental degradation into financial forecasting, as Labour has pledged to do with the UK’s Office of Budget Responsibility.
Third, to stand firm behind the historic Paris Climate Accords.
And finally, take serious and urgent steps on debt relief and cancellation.
While the British Government champions some human rights issues, on others it is silent, if not complicit, in their violation. Theresa May turns a wilfully blind eye to the flagrant and large-scale human rights abuses now taking place in Yemen, fuelled by arms sales to Saudi Arabia worth billions of pounds.
Total British Government aid to Yemen last year was under £150 million – less than the profits made by British arms companies selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. What does that say about our country’s priorities, or our Government’s role in the humanitarian disaster now gripping Yemen.
The weight of international community opinion needs to be brought to bear on those supporting Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, including Theresa May’s Government, to meet our legal and moral obligations on arms sales, and to negotiate an urgent ceasefire and settlement of this devastating conflict.
Statesmanship. Leadership. Vision – all the qualities conspicuous by their absence in Theresa May and her party.
Which means that this important speech will not receive fair coverage in the media – so it’s up to us to get make sure people hear about it.
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