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.
I'm absolutely delighted and honoured to have been appointed by @JoSwinson as the @LibDems new Shadow Foreign Secretary, scrutinising the work of @DominicRaab and the @ForeignOffice. /1 https://t.co/o7FCc7kOA7
— Chuka Umunna (@ChukaUmunna) August 21, 2019
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:
- The brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine.
- UK ally Saudi Arabia‘s campaign of destruction in Yemen (or the Saudi dictatorship generally).
- NATO member Turkey‘s deteriorating democracy, or its crimes against the Kurdish people.
- The devastating effects of the arms trade, and the continuing danger which nuclear weapons pose to humanity.
- The rise of fascism across the world (in Brazil, for example).
- The senseless US-led march to war with Iran.
- The Indian occupation of Kashmir.
- The Indonesian occupation of West Papua.
Jeremy Corbyn, meanwhile…
Corbyn, however, has spoken out consistently on the issues above, tweeting about:
In Jordan, I went to Baqa'a, one of the largest Palestinian refugee camps.
We must work for a real two state settlement to the Israel-Palestine conflict, which ends the occupation and siege of Gaza and makes the Palestinian right to return a reality. pic.twitter.com/WVQrLVU7a8
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) June 25, 2018
The UK government should accept today’s court ruling that arms sales to Saudi Arabia are unlawful because of their use against civilians in Yemen.
UK advice, assistance and arms supplies to Saudi's war in Yemen is a moral stain on our country.
Arms sales to Saudi must stop now.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) June 20, 2019
We need to have some difficult conversations, starting with Saudi Arabia & other Gulf states that have funded and fuelled extremist ideology pic.twitter.com/dZuGWbcAYL
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) June 4, 2017
The arrest of political leaders and activists from the People's Democratic Party HDP is unacceptable. Turkey should respect human rights, the rule of law and not undermine its democracy.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) August 21, 2019
Britain should act to ease tensions in the Gulf, not fuel a military escalation that began with US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement. Without credible evidence about the tanker attacks, the government’s rhetoric will only increase the threat of war.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) June 14, 2019
The situation in Kashmir is deeply disturbing. Human rights abuses taking place are unacceptable. The rights of the Kashmiri people must be respected and UN resolutions implemented.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) August 11, 2019
74 years after the US dropped an atomic bomb on #Hiroshima, threats to peace are growing.
Last week Trump ditched the intermediate range nuclear treaty, fuelling fears of a new arms race.
We must strengthen international action to rid us of the horrors of nuclear weapons.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) August 6, 2019
- And resisting the rise of fascism:
On the 80th anniversary of the horrors of Kristallnacht, when Jews in Germany faced murder and deportation, the hate-filled ideologies of the far right are on the rise again.
We stand united with Jewish people and all communities against antisemitism and fascism.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) November 9, 2018
Millions of Brazilians are deeply worried that the rise of the far-right threatens an assault on democratic rights.
We stand in solidarity with those defending freedom, peace and justice in Brazil.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) October 26, 2018
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.
Consistent principles vs careerist posturing
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
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