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Saturday 14 April 2018

Syria - Iain Dale WRONG On Corbyn

[Update at end of post]

The leaders of our two main political parties have widely, and to some pundits, worryingly divergent views on throwing yet more bombs into Syria. The view of Theresa May we know, given the bomb and missile attack was partly the work of British armed forces. That of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is diametrically different.
Iain Dale

ITV political editor Robert Peston was one of those expressing concern: “It is serious and worrying when there is such a gulf between government and opposition on whether military action should have been taken”. His observation was correct: the gulf between Government and opposition cannot be ignored. But others, rather than take a considered stance, have merely dumped on Corbyn for being insufficiently bellicose.
One of those is pundit, publisher and broadcaster Iain Dale, who disdainfully told his followers “This is the statement just issued by Jeremy Corbyn on the bombing in Syria. I tweet it without comment”. And in case anyone failed to get his message, he rather grandly told “My test for whether I could support military action was 1. Were there clear objectives and 2. What is the endgame? The objective was to weaken Syria's chemical weapons capability. The endgame is to eliminate that capability. The action so far has been clear & proportionate”. Thus the strange and isolated world of the Pundit Establishment.
So what is Jezza’s crime? Seemingly, it is to show leadership. This is what he had to say on the attacks. “Bombs won’t save lives or bring about peace … This legally questionable action risks escalating further, as US defence secretary James Mattis has admitted, an already devastating conflict and therefore makes real accountability for war crimes and use of chemical weapons less, not more likely”. There was more.
Britain should be playing a leadership role to bring about a ceasefire in the conflict, not taking instructions from Washington and putting British military personnel in harm’s way … Theresa May should have sought parliamentary approval, not trailed after Donald Trump. The Government should do whatever possible to push Russia and the United States to agree to an independent UN-led investigation of last weekend’s horrific chemical weapons attack so that those responsible can be held to account”.
Interestingly, those backing the attack and dismissing Corbyn appear to have missed that an inspection team was to have arrived in Syria at the beginning of next week to investigate the attack on Ghouta in which so many died. Did Dale miss that? Does it not matter? And what about the opinions of those who have been elected to serve?

Take, for one, Laura Smith, now my MP, who has concluded “PM taken military action in Syria without any recourse to parliament. I have serious reservations - was prepared to listen to all sides but PM has sidelined parliament and taken her orders from Trump. Not at all convinced this will make the world or our communities a safer place”. Iain Dale would have listened to her predecessor Edward Timpson, wouldn’t he?
Or one who has been elected to represent his fellow workers, such as Dave Ward of the CWU: “Escalation - with no accountability, no Parliamentary debate, no long term plan and no voices of reason”. Dale may not like Ward’s politics, but his opinion is no less valid.

And someone who is also - perhaps grudgingly - allowed into the sanctum of the Pundit Establishment, Owen Jones, has a view which must be as valid as Dale’s: “There have been no shortage of bombs dropped on Syria in the last seven years. These symbolic strikes will excite the armchair generals of the Cabinet and the commentariat, but they will do nothing to win a lasting peace and stop the killing of innocent Syrians”.
Perhaps Iain could take into account the response of Harry Leslie Smith, who knows a little about wars, having been conscripted into the last really big one: “So far this year Donald Trump's America has accepted just 11 Syrian refugees and Britain isn't much better. So it's galling to hear Theresa May talk about the urgent need to bomb Syria to save the lives of innocents”. I would submit that there are many more out there with similar views.

And it is to those people - ordinary people, the kinds of people with whom the Pundit Establishment does not mix - that Corbyn is addressing his response on Syria. Many pundits cannot understand why Labour maintains its current support with Corbyn leading the party; they do not realise that, in this case, he is the one showing leadership.

For Iain Dale and all those other pundits who really don’t get this, once again I refer them to J K Galbraith’s definition of leadership: “All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common; it was their willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership”.
Voters have been sold a pup by successive Governments - a false prospectus over Iraq, that the Libyan intervention would be worth it, and now that if only we were to rock up and throw a little more petrol on the fire that is Syria, it would improve the lot of its citizens.

The major anxiety of an increasing number of those voters is that we will only make matters worse by yet another exercise in petrol throwing. And they rather like the idea of a leader who makes his own mind up, holds a consistent line, and wants to see the thing that will have to come eventually, no matter how much bombing is done - and that is a political settlement.

So the likes of Iain Dale - who is by no means alone in his disdain for Corbyn - would do well to engage with Jezza’s ideas, rather than sneeringly dismiss them.

There is a world outside the hermetically sealed bubble of the Pundit Establishment. Those inside the bubble ignore that reality at their peril.

[UPDATE 1915 hours: Sadly, Iain Dale has signalled that he does not merely hold a disdain for Jerey Corbyn, but is prepared to endorse at least one staggeringly ignorant and deliberately defamatory view of the Labour leader.

Consider this Tweet he has just RTd: the suggestion that Jezza wants to "stand up for Assad's right to gas children".
That, folks, is how desperate and nasty the reaction of the supposedly mainstream centre-right has become to the idea of seeking peace and a political solution, rather than throwing more bombs into an area that has already seen rather too many of them.

And that is the Pundit Establishment, the people who broadcasters are employing, and booking, right now. I'll just leave that one there]


Anonymous said...

Impossible not to feel absolute contempt for the homicidal maniacs who breached international law and killed innocent Syrians, and who may have lit the fuse to World War 3. Exactly the kind of lunatic mentality that triggered World War 1. The same propaganda and lies too.

I am ashamed that this country has learned nothing from its failed imperial past, that it cowers behind the madness of US Nazis, that it has produced political trollops like May, Johnson, Hunt, Gove, Benn, Mann and all the other urfascist fellow travellers, that Westminster and Whitehall are infested by craven greedy cowards who wouldn't know decency if they tripped over it, that we have mainstream media who lie and support the whole rotting edifice.

Not in my name. Not ever.

D Abbott said...

Theresa May talks of the air raids being a successful mission.

If she believes that only two-thirds of missiles hitting their targets is a success.

Where does that leave the other two- thirds?

Still,if you vote Tory, you get the same old story.

Bob said...

If only we could avoid the bombs by having a powerful international financial system that would deter the perpetrators by making it difficult for them to profit from their actions. But this big net would catch other big fish, like those who pay £160,000 for a game of tennis or blindly pay millions for homes that will barely be lived in.

Nigel Stapley said...

“It is serious and worrying when there is such a gulf between government and opposition on whether military action should have been taken”

I think Peston is up a tree here. One of the more encouraging things about this is that there is a Leader of the Opposition who is not willing to allow himself and (most of) his party to be stampeded into supporting more rah-rah bombing of brown people far away, at least not without any meaningful thought as to what the consequences might be.

If only Labour had shown sufficient balls in 2011, then Libya might not now be a basket case. And if the Tories hadn't let their perpetual desire to bomb nasty foreigners blind them in 2003 when Blair launched his criminal attack on Iraq, then various (mostly Saudi backed) Johadist groups would not now be using Iraq as a launchpad for their own criminal attacks.

I find Peston's implication that it is A Bad Thing to have an Official Opposition which questions the official narrative (i.e., which opposes the government of the moment) quite baffling. And troubling.

Anonymous said...

Nigel, Peston is a far right tory who, in his own words, thinks "greed is good". So he's entirely consistent in wanting a one party state (which we already have thanks to New Labour and the Blair/Brown gang).

Corbyn and his supporters have a hard struggle ahead. But there's just enough decency left in this country to perhaps turn us away from being a puppet state of the USA.

Arnold said...

The bombs and missiles are also chemical weapons. But they just blow people to pieces instead of poisoning them. So that's all right then.

nparker said...

I didn't interpret what Peston said in the same way, Nigel. I took him to mean that it was worrying that a strike had been ordered when there is such vast disagreement in Parliament, much as I think Tim did. I'd agree with Robert Peston if so.

Anonymous said...

That will be the same Iain Dale who perpetuated the myth on TV late last night that Owen Jones was in some way so influential with the BBC that he was looking to get 'Brillo' sacked.

Of course no one on the panel was suitably up to speed to simply call him out for perpetuating fake news from hs favourite fake news website. Thereby offering a perfect example of exactly what Jones was on about. All the right wingers are told fake news, fed fake news, repeat fake news and no one calls them for it.

Even a simple ' where did Jones say he wanted Brillo sacked' would be a start, but such questioning never happens.

Ferdy Fox said...

The sheer hypocrisy of the actions in Syria amazes me, although given the Maybot's "teams'" previous history, it shouldn't.
Assad kills and maims thousands of innocent civilians and reduces their homes to rubble and she just stands by, uttering the platitudes that are her trademark. But that's OK because they're only conventional weapons.
So presumably Assad has the right to blow ordinary men, women and kids to pieces but not to gas them.
Still, it keeps the armchair and tweet warriors as happy as pigs in shit! Flash your new, blue passport with pride I say.