Emily Thornberry just promised Labour will lead the fight against fascism. Let’s hold her to her word.

Emily Thornberry speaking at the Labour annual conference, 2018
Support us and go ad-free

On 25 September, cheers and standing ovations greeted shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry during her address to the Labour Party conference. And this was in large part because she spoke about the Labour movement’s historic victories against fascism, while promising to continue that fight.

“We beat the Blackshirts,” she said, “and the NF, and the BNP, and the EDL, and whatever they call themselves today.”

That’s a strong record to have. And Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour Party in 2015 has strengthened anti-fascist and anti-war movements even more. But we must hold Thornberry and Corbyn to their words – and make sure they do what they say they will. Because Labour’s past and current records are not good enough.

Emily Thornberry at Annual Conference 2018

Emily Thornberry is now LIVE at Annual Conference, talking abut security at home and abroad. Join the conversation ?

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Posted by The Labour Party on Tuesday, 25 September 2018

¡No pasarán!

In her speech, Thornberry also repeated the Spanish slogan ¡No pasarán! (‘they shall not pass’), which was used in the fight against fascism during the Spanish Civil War. And she called on Labour to honour that fight, stressing:

we must… lead the fight against the forces of fascism, of racism, of prejudice, and antisemitism.

She also promised to “lead the world in promoting human rights, in reforming the arms trade, in pursuing an end to conflict”, and committed to a nuclear-free world.

Thornberry’s speech was promising, passionate, and convincing. But there are things that Labour can and must do to further strengthen its commitment to international peace.

Improvement required

Labour has been too quiet, for example, about what is happening in Rojava in northern Syria – where revolutionary Kurdish-led communities have long been on the frontlines in the ground battle against Daesh (Isis/Isil). According to author David Graeber, “some of the similarities” between the Spanish Civil War and Rojava “are so striking, and so distressing… we cannot let it end the same way”. Some Labour politicians have spoken out about Rojava, but the party can and must do so much more.

Thornberry herself, meanwhile, has faced allegations of being weak on Israel’s oppression and occupation of Palestine. She has opposed the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, for example, reportedly describing it as “bigotry against the Israeli nation [that] has never been justified”.

The shadow foreign secretary’s description of Robert Kennedy as a ‘man of peace’ is also troubling. Because Kennedy reportedly contributed to the evolution of US counterinsurgency doctrine, which paved the way for brutal methods of warfare in Vietnam and across Latin America.

An “ethical foreign policy”?

If Labour is to adopt a more ethical foreign policy and truly lead the fight against fascism, it must learn from its past failings too.

Shortly after Labour’s election victory in 1997, foreign secretary Robin Cook announced a foreign policy with an “ethical dimension”. And although the policy hardly differed from that of previous governments, the media celebrated the Labour government’s “ethical foreign policy”.

Three years later, there were reports that Labour was dropping its “ethical dimension” policy, which had become a stick with which to beat the government. The Labour government was thus implicitly pursuing an ‘unethical’ foreign policy. As well as invading Iraq and Afghanistan, the party ended up arming, training, and supporting repressive states worldwide.

In 2017, Thornberry once again pledged to adopt Cook’s “ethical dimension” policy. And now, as Thornberry makes a new rallying call, we must ensure we hold her to her word. We must make sure that, this time, the pledge is serious.

Get Involved!

– See our previous articles about Rojava to find out more about what’s going on there. And write to your local MP to encourage them to support the region’s fight against fascism.

– Read more of our coverage of Labour’s 2018 conference.

Support The Canary if you appreciate the work we do.

Featured image via The Labour Party

Support us and go ad-free

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?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed