Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the resulting invasion. The invasion of Afghanistan. Military action in Libya. Military action in Syria. On each of these issues, Jeremy Corbyn has been shown to be on the right side of history – and Blairite adventurists to be on the wrong side.
Seems they’ve learned nothing.
Today, a cabal of back-bench Labour MPs – names that will surprise no one – have been scrambling to put together an Early Day Motion (EDM) ‘unequivocally’ backing Theresa May in her over-eagerness to lay blame for the Salisbury nerve-agent attack on Sergei Skripal, his daughter and a police officer.
The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg tweeted a copy of a hastily-prepared note with the names of Labour ‘moderate’ MPs prepared to sign the motion:
Theresa May herself cannot yet ‘unequivocally’ say that Russia carried out the attack. According to the Russians, samples of ‘Novichok’ nerve agent are with government facilities all over the EU – including at Porton Down, just eight miles from the scene of the attack – and all the samples contain, perhaps unknown to those holding them, with a different signature marker, to enable samples from different laboratories to be differentiated.
The government has so far refused to provide a sample of the agent used in the Skripal attack.
If Theresa May herself cannot yet be unequivocal – then how can backbench Labour MPs ‘unequivocally accept the Russian state’s culpability’?
Labour-supporting Twitter account @EL4JC had its own interpretation of this ‘scramble’:
Whatever the MPs’ personal motivations in this unseemly rush into conflict with a nuclear-armed sovereign power, did anything ever more clearly demonstrate the nonsense of the term ‘moderate’?
By contrast, Jeremy Corbyn’s statesmanlike, measured and reasonable approach shamed not only a few of his own MPs but the behaviour and motivation of the Tory government and its MPs, as he spoke in the Commons to condemn the attack without jumping to unproven conclusions:
- unequivocally condemned the “appalling act of violence” in Salisbury
- called on Theresa May to be ensure that the UK’s response is “decisive and proportionate and based on clear evidence”
- underlined the UK’s responsibility “to speak out against the abuse of human rights by the Putin government and its supporters both at home or abroad and pay tribute to the many campaigners in Russia for human rights”
- called for the government to “expose the flows of ill-gotten cash between the Russian state and billionaires who became stupendously rich by looting their country and subsequently using London to protect their wealth”
- condemned – again – the events in Salisbury earlier as “abominable and… rightly condemned across this House”
- spoke of the importance of Britain “build[ing] a consensus with our allies at this time for multilateral action, ensuring in the longer term that we strengthen the chemical weapons convention and to ensure that this never happens again”
- reminded the country of the UK’s diplomatic weakness because of Tory cuts
Inconveniently for those who might wish to dismiss his measured approach as compromised by his appearances (like many Tories and ‘moderates’) on Russia’s ‘RT’ station, Corbyn went on record eighteen months ago, on the Andrew Marr show, to condemn proven Russian human rights abuses:
Corbyn looked far more a statesman, internationalist and leader than his Tory counterpart. Of course, that has nothing to do with the anger of the misnamed ‘moderates’.
Meanwhile, the majority of people in this country will be deeply glad that the leader of at least one of our main political parties has the composure and integrity to actually moderate his behaviour and judgment until the case is properly investigated and proven – and the courage yet again to stand against the Establishment flow – rather than rushing headlong to attribute blame and indulge in posturing and sabre-rattling, as his opposite number for whatever reasons of her own is clearly eager to do.
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