The gossips have had their fun but now we’re getting down to business, and Jeremy Corbyn has made it clear that he’s doing the same.
The Labour leader is entirely happy to handle the possibility of a rebellion among the vocal minority of MPs who want to support Conservative prime minister David Cameron’s plan to bomb innocent people in Syria and pretend he’s attacking terrorists.
Cameron has no idea where the leaders of Daesh (IS if you like) are hiding. When he does find out, he’ll probably discover that they are lurking in hospitals, schools and anywhere else they can hide behind innocent people, including children.
If he goes ahead with air strikes in such an eventuality, he’ll have innocent blood on his hands, and so will all MPs who vote to support him – especially Labour MPs who will have had the chance to vote him down instead.
Not only that, but they will all have had a hand in creating the next generation of terrorists against the Western nations, as the survivors of these attacks will want revenge.
In other words, David Cameron is doing exactly what the leaders of Daesh want him to do, and Jeremy Corbyn is working to make sure Labour MPs don’t make the same mistake.
Corbyn asserted his authority on Sunday by reminding MPs of his large mandate and making clear that he alone would decide whether to whip them to vote against extending airstrikes on Isis.
“It is the leader who decides. I will make up my mind in due course,” he said.
He has also consulted members about their views on whether David Cameron has made the case for bombing the Isis stronghold of Raqqa and received 70,000 responses through an online form.
In fact, Labour members were asked to provide their responses via email.
Cameron is likely to hold a vote on extending the bombing of Isis to Syria on Wednesday.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Corbyn said bombing would lead inevitably to civilian casualties and risks making the situation “worse, not better”.
He questioned Cameron’s claim that there are 70,000 moderate Syrian troops to secure territory vacated by Isis and voiced doubts about their loyalties.
Corbyn said he would not describe himself as a pacifist but military action should be used only as an absolute last resort. Trying to achieve a political settlement in Syria and cutting off Isis funding, oil trading and weapons supply should be the priority, he said.
His clear statement of opposition to airstrikes is likely to be backed up by the Labour membership and he is also seeking the support of party’s ruling national executive committee in an attempt to persuade MPs to come round to his view.
It is, after all, the view that was agreed by the Labour Party at its national conference in September when the following motion was passed:
Corbyn said there would be a decision as a party on opposing airstrikes and he will then decide whether to impose the whip on MPs.
“The Labour membership must have a voice. Labour MPs need to listen to that voice and try to understand where they are coming from,” he said.
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