Labour needs to make it unmistakeably clear that it is committed to keeping the country and its people safe, thereby snuffing out pacifist accusations, but also giving a context for the ensuing forensic argument. People must know we are prepared to defend the country. If Labour is not pacifist the only question is whether bombing Syria will advance or degrade safety – a pragmatic, and therefore a secondary issue. Jeremy’s objections are all valid except for one – that it increases the risk of attack at home. There is no doubt – the security services have sad so – that that is going to happen anyway.
It is impossible for one of the country’s two main political parties not to have a position on whether to go to war. What could be more fundamental? I see all the dangers to the Labour Party of a whipped vote – they are great and growing. However the yawning gap between the Leader and some Labour MPs is a political fact. If not confronted now when will it be?
The dangers of not having a view at all on peace or war are worse: it will be seen an abdication of leadership which, after all, is largely about managing difficulties. Labour will wriggle off this week’s dilemma only to postpone the reckoning. It must have a sense of direction, even if there is a rebellion. The Leader has rightly consulted and the result, I believe, has been decisive. Moreover there are large numbers of people outside the Party who are opposed, including Tories (the Mail, Matthew Parris) and people of no party. Who is to speak for them? The SNP? A free vote will make the Leader appear as his enemies portray him – an impotent sentimentalist, a new George Lansbury, ‘hawking his conscience about…’ as Ernie Bevin cruelly said. This is not an issue of conscience but of policy on the most fundamental question any country ever has to face.
5 replies on “FREE VOTE ONLY POSTPONES RECKONING”
Glad that you agree that Labour is not a pacifist party.
Jeremy Corbyn is intellectually weak and indecisive. He must defend his position to the Country and most particularly in Parliament much more effetively than he has done so far. It’s not good enough to out source decisions to the membership. Canvas returns are piss-poor in Oldham, as anyone who has been on the doorstep there in this campaign will tell you. Lifelong Labour voters are planning to vote UKIP or stay at home. If it weren’t for the very well known and effective local candidate matters would be even worse. Jeremy has been asked to stay away.
As things stand, he is the Tories’ best friend. As Mc Donnell obviously discovered this weekend in Oldham, Corbyn’s brand of metropolitan leftier-than-thouism doesn’t play so well outside seats like Brighton Pavilion and Hornsey and Wood Green.
It’s to be hoped that JC has the decency to admit he’s not up to it and go before he does any more damage. There are many more impressive MPs: Clive Lewis on the left or Stella Creasey on the right.
Labour has never been a pacifist party. That fact doesn’t require my agreement.
Yes Corbyn must argue effectively (my blog indicated how) and have membership support.
I worry about Oldham too but any by-election is difficult with all ten nationals and the BBC traducing you daily.
It’s convenient, but untruthful, to pretend the war is opposed only in ‘metropolitan’ areas.
Young people from Oldham will do the dying in Syria, not New Labour MPs who, once again, will allow a British government to ignore massive popular opposition to a war for which no case has been made.
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I wasn’t referring to opposition to the extension of air strikes when I said JC wasn’t going down well in Oldham.
He has to lead effectively or stand down for someone who can. As it stands he is even less popular than Ed who at least managed to hold the party together. Yesterday’s debacles illustrate my point.
Yes he must lead effectively. My blog showed how, in this case. Like the Tea Party with Obama, a small group of MPs does not accept his legitimacy: how can you hold the party together against a Fifth Column?
They will be encouraged by the debacle – for such it truly was. Blair whipped the PLP for Iraq; Corbyn should have done the same against Syria.
Yes, Blair and his cabinet used the whip and 139 Labour MPs defied it. Not however the last MP for Oldham.