On 21 August, Chuka Umunna revealed that he’s the Liberal Democrats’ new foreign affairs spokesperson. But that’s perhaps unsurprising, given that his past comments on international matters seem to sum up Lib Dem principles perfectly.
Firstly, Umunna is not a ‘shadow secretary’. Because it’s the leader of the opposition – i.e. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn – who chooses the shadow cabinet. Smaller parties like the Lib Dems, meanwhile, have spokespeople. Umunna left Labour back in February, thus waving any hopes of a shadow cabinet post goodbye.
But it’s Umunna’s past comments on international politics that are most telling. Because there’s not much there. So in that sense, his record sums up the principles of the Lib Dem establishment perfectly.
To mark his new appointment, Umunna essentially wrote about protecting the status quo, stopping Brexit, and the threat Russia poses. There was little mention of the big crises facing the world today. And that’s consistent with Umunna’s Twitter record. Because he appears to have tweeted very little about:
Jeremy Corbyn, meanwhile…
Corbyn, however, has spoken out consistently on the issues above, tweeting about:
A patron of the Peace In Kurdistan campaign group, Corbyn has also been a long-time supporter of Kurdish rights in the Middle East. In 2016, for example, he said:
If peace is wanted in the region, the Kurdish people’s right to self-determination must be accepted… I have been to Kurdistan many times and witnessed the injustices there personally. On this matter, the British government must base its foreign policy on human rights, and make efforts serving the peoples’ cultural and political rights and self-government.
Likewise, Corbyn is a founding member of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua. And he spoke in 2016 about the need for “worldwide recognition” of the fight for freedom in West Papua.
Consistent principles vs careerist posturing
In short, Corbyn has long worn his principles on his sleeves (like when police arrested him for protesting against apartheid). As a result, he has won numerous peace prizes.
Umunna, meanwhile, is seriously out of his depth. And the fact that the Lib Dems are happy to make him their foreign affairs spokesperson despite his chronically weak record says everything we need to know about who they are.
Featured image via BBC Newsnight/YouTube