Jeremy Corbyn obliterated a week’s worth of smears with one simple point about democracy, on ITV’s Peston on Sunday.
In the aftermath of the Manchester bombing, Conservatives and the right-wing media have tried to paint the Labour leader as weak on terror. They have attacked Corbyn for voting against numerous ‘anti-terror’ laws.
Following the lead, interviewer Robert Peston challenged Corbyn on 28 May:
We… have identified at least 17 occasions you voted against anti-terror laws, laws designed to keep us safe, do you now regret voting in that way?
But Corbyn set the record straight, with a simple point about law and democracy:
Anti-terror laws are important, but they must be subject to judicial oversight. My concern was always we are going down the road of executive orders, executive detention, and executive control.
The Labour leader followed through with an example:
the Prevention of Terrorism Act of the 1970s… it was the attempted criminalisation of large numbers of young people, which of course drives them in a very bad direction. So my point on the anti-terror laws was not that you don’t need an effective anti-terror strategy, you must have independent judicial oversight to what goes on.
Human rights group Liberty supports Corbyn’s point. A 1993 report concluded that the Irish community suffered “widespread violations of their human rights and civil liberties”, compromising the UK’s “reputation”.
‘Designed to keep us safe?’
Peston claimed that anti-terror laws are “designed to keep us safe”. But terrorism legislation has long been used as a pretext to erode the rights of UK civilians and hand sweeping powers to government, as Corbyn alludes to.
Leading human rights organisation Amnesty International also echoed the Labour leader’s concerns:
Since the war on terror was declared by the US government in 2001, the UK authorities have mounted a sustained attack on human rights, the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law.
sweeping and vague provisions that undermine the rights to freedom and expression and association, the right to liberty, the prohibition of arbitrary detention, the rights to the presumption of innocence and fair trial.
Other terrorism laws invade the privacy of millions of ordinary people. Another that Corbyn rejected, the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014, was later found to be unlawful by the High Court. Again, the act was too vague, amounting to an assault on the privacy of innocent people in the UK.
In another report, Liberty concluded [pdf] that the 2000 Terrorism Act effectively criminalised Muslims “as a community”. So the organisation pointed out that the act alienated the very group that anti-terror intelligence often relies upon. Corbyn voted against this legislation as well.
Anti-terror laws routinely exploit events like the Manchester bombing to increase government control and encroach upon the rights of ordinary people. Unlike many politicians, Corbyn has stood against legislation that amounts to a shameless power grab. So, on Peston On Sunday, Corbyn turned the smear campaign on its head. Turns out the Labour leader was on the right side of history, once again.
Watch the exchange 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.
– Support The Canary if you value the work we do.
Featured image via Youtube
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?