Corbyn: After 16 years the ‘war on terror’ is a failure, it’s not how we’ll protect our people
JEREMY CORBYN said a Labour government would be clear-eyed that the “war on terror is simply not working” as he set out his vision for a safer Britain under his leadership.
Labour would be “strong against terrorism” and its causes, he said as he relaunched his election campaign, following a cross-party pause in campaigning called to mark the Manchester nail-bomb attack on Monday.
Mr Corbyn urged the government to admit that bombing and sending troops to the Middle East and north Africa only adds fuel to the fire.
This should be discussed in a “quality” debate, he said, without accusations from other leaders that such views are unpatriotic.
He stressed that this observation “in no way reduces the guilt of those who attack our children” and that these views are backed by intelligence and security experts.
Islamic organisation the Ramadhan Foundation, which works to build cohesion between different communities, supported Mr Corbyn for discussing the issue.
Foundation chief executive Mohammed Shafiq said: “The foreign policy of our government, its failed military adventures in the Middle East is one element of the reasons for terrorism.
“Primarily it is an ideology of violence, the distorted way in which terrorists justify violence is what needs to be confronted.
“Young people have mentioned foreign policy that gets them angry and makes them feel disconnected.
“I commend Jeremy Corbyn for having the leadership to start this conversation and address the issues.
“What is not acceptable is for some to claim if you mention foreign policy that you are somehow an apologist for terrorism.”
Later in his speech, Mr Corbyn assured soldiers that, as prime minister, he would only deploy them if there was a “clear need” to deliver lasting peace in war-torn regions.
And he accused the Tories of underfunding police and increasing terror threats with foreign interventions.
A Labour government would also put 10,000 more officers on the beat, improve prison conditions, and give the security services extra resources to “keep track” of terror suspects, he said.
Theresa May has faced repeated criticism from the Police Federation for having cut police officer numbers by 20,000 when she was home secretary, which has been linked to the need to deploy soldiers at London landmarks after the Manchester attack.
Mr Corbyn said: “The blame is with the terrorists, but if we are to protect our people we must be honest about what threatens our security. Those causes certainly cannot be reduced to foreign policy decisions alone.
“Over the past 15 years or so, a subculture of often suicidal violence has developed among a tiny minority of, mainly young, men, falsely drawing authority from Islamic beliefs.
“These are often nurtured in a prison system in urgent need of resources and reform.
“And no rationale based on the actions of any government can remotely excuse, or even adequately explain, outrages like this week’s massacre. “But we must be brave enough to admit the war on terror is simply not working.”
Tories and Liberal Democrats criticised him for the timing of his speech and accused him of trying to make “a narrow political point.”
But Mr Corbyn stressed the “responsibility” of government to minimise the chance of attacks.
Carrying on with the election campaign represents “an act of defiance” against terrorists who reject democratic freedoms, he added.
A handful of Labour MPs, including John Woodcock and Neil Coyle, criticised him for making the speech.