As hostilities resume in the General Election campaign, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has wisely decided to take the initiative on a subject which might just be at the top of many floating voters’ agendas: keeping people and communities safe and secure in the face of a variety of threats, especially that posed by terrorists. Needless to say, this has resulted in Tories and their cheerleaders tutting and sneering. But Jezza does have a point.
Here’s what he said: “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 … many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services, have pointed out the connections between wars that we have been involved in, or supported, or fought, in other countries and terrorism here at home”.
There was more. “That assessment in no way reduces the guilt of those who attack our children. Those terrorists will forever be reviled and implacably held to account for their actions … The blame is with the terrorists, but if we are to protect our people we must be honest about what threatens our security … We must be brave enough to admit the 'war on terror' is simply not working”. He also said “Do not doubt my determination to take whatever action is necessary to keep our country safe”.
So far, so reasonable, but for those out there on the right, Corbyn had to be rubbished before voters started to get ideas about voting Labour. So overnight, the Murdoch Sun lifted a previously paywalled Times article from Iain Martin which trowelled on the scorn: “Almost without fail, Corbyn has expressed support for this country’s enemies, opposed British military deployments overseas or sided with assorted fringe elements who say we deserve what we get … The man is by no reasonable definition a patriot”.
Martin claims - wrongly - that Corbyn supported the IRA, then tells anyone still reading “Jeremy Corbyn must not become Prime Minister … He is a risk to national security”. I have no doubt Martin was well paid for this formulaic abuse. And abuse is all it is.
Name calling is not going to cut it with the electorate, and nor is claiming that Theresa May, who showed every sign of falling apart over the Tories’s social care plans, is a “steady leader in a crisis”. Others on the right fare little better, notably the loathsome Toby Young, who is also alert to Jezza’s latest move. He has responded via Twitter.
“Twitter 77 years ago: Lord Haw-Haw is right you know. If we hadn't declared war on Germany they wouldn't be bombing us. We'd all be safer”. Where does one start? One, had we not declared war on Germany, it is more than possible they would not have bombed us. Two, which part of the world had Britain just invaded and destabilised prior to World War 2 kicking off? There wasn’t one.
And three, Tobes, remember what Eliza Manningham Buller said about the Iraq war: “Whatever the merits of putting an end to Saddam Hussein, the war was also a distraction from the pursuit of al-Qaeda. It increased the terrorist threat . . . [and] spurred some British Muslims to turn to terror”. I’ll take the word of a former MI5 head over Captain Bellend.
Jeremy Corbyn has cut through with the public. That the Tories and their pals are hurling abuse first, and debating second, tells you who is scared. No surprise there, then.