The Conservatives were too late smearing Jeremy Corbyn on 26 May. His landmark speech on terrorism had already taken Britain by storm:
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#CorbynSpeech I just clapped. Sat in me living room. More sirens going past. We need this man as Prime Minister.
— Hookawoolly (@Hookawoolly) May 26, 2017
Labour’s support is not just building anecdotally. One poll conducted after the Manchester bombing places Labour on 38% – higher than the Conservatives’ own winning vote share in 2015.
Instead of opting for debate, the Conservative Party wheeled out Defence Secretary Michael Fallon to misrepresent the Labour leader:
This is a very badly timed speech showing some very muddled and dangerous thinking. He seems to be implying that a terrorist attack in Manchester is somehow our fault, is somehow Britain’s fault. Jeremy Corbyn is far too ready to find excuses and far too slow to support the police and the security services.
But in reality, Corbyn made clear that his assessment:
in no way reduces the guilt of those who attack our children. Those terrorists will forever be reviled and held to account for their actions. But an informed understanding of the causes of terrorism is an essential part of an effective response that will protect the security of our people that fights rather than fuels terrorism.
His first response to the bombing, meanwhile, was to praise our emergency services.
The real argument
Corbyn actually argues that invading other sovereign countries can increase the risk of terror at home:
We will also change what we do abroad. Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services, have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries and terrorism here at home.
The Labour leader’s point is not radical or controversial. Rather, his assessment echoes the concerns of many in the UK intelligence community.
UK intelligence backs Corbyn
Take the verdict of ex-MI5 boss Eliza Manningham-Buller:
whatever the merits of putting an end to Saddam Hussein, the war… increased the terrorist threat by convincing more people that Osama Bin Laden’s claim that Islam was under attack was correct… our involvement in Iraq spurred some young British Muslims to turn to terror.
Another former MI5 chief, Stella Rimington, said to “ignore the effect of the war in Iraq” on radicalisation “is misleading”.
Or take the Joint Intelligence Committee, which warned Tony Blair in 2003 that invading Iraq would increase the risk of terrorism in the UK:
The threat from Al Qaida will increase at the onset of any military action against Iraq… The worldwide threat from other Islamist terrorist groups and individuals will increase significantly.
The report specified that terrorist attacks in the UK were “especially” likely “for maximum impact”.
Then there’s Libya and a 2016 report from the foreign affairs committee. The committee’s parliamentary report on the 2011 military intervention concluded that the risk of extremist groups like Daesh (Isis/Isil) benefiting from the rebellion should not have been “the preserve of hindsight”. As well as opposing the invasion of Iraq, Corbyn was one of just 13 MPs to vote against military action in Libya.
Across the Atlantic, intelligence services also share Corbyn’s assessment. Representing a consensus from 16 US intelligence agencies, the 2006 National Intelligence Estimate concluded:
We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives… The Iraq conflict has become the ’cause celebre’ for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.
The reaction to Corbyn’s speech has been quite incredible, given the media’s characterisation of the Labour leader.
#CorbynSpeech was calm and measured. Today he spoke as Leader of the Labour Party but sounded like a Leader for our country
— Julie (@juliefr88667164) May 26, 2017
The right wing hacks all seem to be appalled that a politician might actually tell the truth about the "war on terror" #CorbynSpeech
— aʟi Hendrick (@The45Storm) May 26, 2017
In short, Corbyn’s assessment of terrorism is mainstream, and characterised by common sense. It’s the Conservatives smearing him who are on the fringe. And the brilliant reaction to Corbyn’s speech shows Britain is waking up to that reality.
Don’t let the media frame the speech for you, watch it here:
– Get out there and vote on 8 June.
– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.
– Also read more Canary articles on the 2017 general election.
Featured image via YouTube screenshot
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