Hunt appears to be trying to increase Tory leadership appeal with hawkish u-turn, but exposes his own unprincipled u-turn
Jeremy Hunt has rushed to prop up the US narrative on events in the Strait of Hormuz, where the Trump administration has blamed attacks on oil tankers on Iran. Hunt immediately stated publicly that the attacks were ‘almost certainly’ carried out by Iran.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for caution and evidence before leaping to any conclusions – and was immediately attacked by a now-hawkish Hunt for not immediately agreeing with the US.
But Hunt’s own record shows that he warned only seven months ago, during a visit to Iran as Foreign Secretary, that any conflict with Iran could trigger a world war – as Tribune editor Ronan Burtenshaw succinctly pointed out:
Hunt’s sudden change of approach is very likely connected with his desire to be the next Tory Prime Minister – Tory members are rarely averse to some tub-thumping or to foreign interventions.
But his u-turn projects weakness, not strength. To go in such a short time from recognising the dangers of conflict to following in Trump’s wake suggests a weak mind and insufficient spine to stand up to the US president. To call for evidence and caution takes a strength of mind and character that Hunt all too plainly does not have.
Corbyn, in contrast, clearly has the presence of mind and the principle required to demand that any action in the Gulf be evidence-based and thoroughly considered – even though he will know that the Tories and their media allies will try to use it against him.
But both the Tories and the media are being wilfully disingenuous and simplistic. There is no conflict between believing that Iran is a despotic regime and still wanting evidence that it is guilty of the specific acts of which it is being accused. That’s how international law works.
Corbyn’s record – which will of course be ignored in the diatribes – show that he has been one of Parliament’s most consistent critics of the behaviour of Iran. In fact, he ranks second in the number of times he has officially condemned Iran – putting him ahead of the remaining 648 current MPs in the House of Commons.
Including, of course, Jeremy Hunt, who doesn’t even make the top ten:
To label Corbyn pro-Iran, or even to challenge his credentials as a critic of its government, is intentionally and demonstrably dishonest.
Corbyn stands in seventh place among the more than a thousand MPs who have sat in Parliament since 2005 for the number of times he condemned Iran’s Human Rights Abuses – fifty-one occasions. Those who use innuendo to suggest Corbyn has been soft on Iran because – like many MPs including Tories – he has appeared on Iran TV are equally disingenuous. Corbyn has also expressly condemned Iran TV in Parliament, too. In fact, he not only signed but sponsored a motion against the broadcaster for its behaviour.
Hunt shows all the hallmarks of a weak man attempting to look strong – trying too hard and embarrassing himself in the process. He also displays both the classic Tory lack of self-awareness and their absolute comfort with hypocrisy.
He shows the lack of judgment that has characterised the Tories for the past nine years, too. In drawing attention to Corbyn’s statesmanship and character, he has shone the most unflattering light on his own lack of either.
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