Confused? You should be.
After Jeremy Corbyn allowed Labour MPs a free vote on whether to support David Cameron’s call for the UK to take part in air strikes on Syria, the lickspittles in the Tory-supporting news media got busy pretending that if the vote goes Cameron’s way, it will be all Corbyn’s fault.
But wait – Corbyn’s is against air strikes, isn’t he?
That’s right. But the media want you to think that, by allowing a free vote, he’s giving his MPs free rein to support the Conservatives. In fact, he has put all the responsibility onto them. If they support air strikes, the blood will be on their hands, not his. And their constituents – who are overwhelmingly opposed to another Middle East adventure (as these episodes are euphemistically dubbed) – will not forget.
The case in favour of warfare, as put forward by Cameron last week, is ludicrous – and has become fertile ground for satirists. Here’s an example:
Let’s break it down: The infographic is pointing out that previous interventions in Iraq and Libya have destabilised those nations, making them a home to terrorists – exactly the opposite of what we were told would happen. Innocents will be killed in huge numbers – even if we knew where the terrorists were hiding, it would probably be behind children or the sick, in schools or hospitals (as we have previously experienced). Dropping bombs on Syria will increase the outflow of refugees. Our bombing will have as little effect as that of the other countries. When bombing Syria was last debated in Parliament, it was against President Assad, and therefore on the same side as the terrorists, and if we had gone through with it, Daesh/IS would now control most of Syria; how can anyone possibly argue that the current plan would have a better result? The last is self-explanatory: Any dire consequences will go to another interminable inquiry, in the hope that people will forget about it (fat chance).
These are only some of the reasons Jeremy Corbyn opposes Cameron’s air strikes plan. Here’s how the UK news media have explained it:
Emily Maitlis, tweeting ahead of last night’s edition of the BBC’s Newsnight, gave us: “Tonight: Have splits in the Labour Party just made air strikes on Syria a whole lot more likely?”
The Newsnight report prompted at least one complaint of serious bias in its reporting.
Conor Pope, writing in the curiously anti-Corbyn LabourList, told us: “Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn stood to address Labour MPs and peers about the outcome.
“It was, apparently, a bizarre scene. The two appeared to contradict each other on almost every point. While the whole Shadow Cabinet was in agreement about how the four tests set out in the Syria motion at Labour conference needed to be met, Corbyn and Benn are at odds about whether they have.
“The meeting lasted an hour and forty minutes, with lots of backbenchers wanting to have their say, and Corbyn delivering lengthy answers to every inquiry. But angsty MPs were increasingly irritated at Corbyn’s perceived reticence to answer questions directly.”
Here’s Eoin Clarke on Twitter: “A momentous day for Labour. MP after MP lined up to articulate why they would be opposing Cameron’s vote to bomb Syria. The Tide is turning.”
Who do you believe?
Jeremy Corbyn himself told Jeremy Vine on BBC Radio 2 that only a small number of diehard Labour MPs would be supporting air strikes: “There will be a large majority of Labour MPs voting against the war. There are a small number who are very diehard in supporting the war.”
He said imposing a whip would have been pointless: “They would probably have supported the war whether there was a whip or not.”
(The whipping question prompted a very pertinent comment from David White on Twitter: “The same people criticising Corbyn for allowing a free vote are the ones who’d have criticised him if he’d imposed a whip.”)
And Mr Corbyn repeatedly appealed to any remaining Labour MPs who were still considering voting with the Tories to think again: “Think of the complications and the implications of what we’re doing and please cast your vote against supporting this government’s military endeavours in Syria.”
There are many who agree with him, like Charlotte L Riley, who tweeted: “I am confused as to why Corbyn is getting the blame here rather than, say, Cameron, who actually supports bombing.”
Ian Jones asked: “We need a debate so we can ask Cameron if he’s going for the set – human rights abuses & war crimes.”
And Eoin Clarke (again) added: “Fully understandable that David Cameron has refused the request for a two-day debate on Syria. He knows his argument for war is very weak.”
But all of these sensible comments are being drowned out by a mass media that is determined to have a Tory war and blame it on the Labour leader.
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