The resurgent left will speak out against war

bruce whiteheadBruce Whitehead is a former Left Unity candidate, now supporting Jeremy Corbyn, who sets out here his opposition to plans for air strikes in Syria.


It’s worth reflecting on whether there is a country where air strikes or military aggression has been effective in neutralising a violent threat, in making the streets safer, in implementing democracy and human rights. In the last 50 years say. Gaza? Derry? Baghdad maybe. How about Grenada, or Sierra Leone perhaps. Kosovo. Bosnia. Chechnya, Ukraine; Korea. Libya? Afghanistan.

Militarists will argue until the planes come home about the relative successes of some of these campaigns in recent years. But we only have to look at the litany of recent failures – Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria – to know that something is wrong in the heart of Whitehall. The nexus of power where the ministries of defence, foreign and commonwealth, treasury and home affairs vie for supremacy, for the ear of the politicians, generals, mandarins and contractors who inevitably come off best after a good battle or two.

No doubt their tentacles stretch as far as Crewe Toll, where Edinburgh’s own lethal cottage industry is headquartered, under the misnomer of the “defence” industry. “Let’s order some airstrikes,” shareholders and bonus-hungry managers say; and to borrow from Blackadder: “It’ll raise the whole tone of the war, Darling.” To the beat of Cameron’s war drum, it feels like a terrifying mix of Groundhog Day and Alice in Wonderland.

Have we learned nothing? Have the British and foreign lives lost in miserable military failures been so easily forgotten? It’s clear that holding high office blinds politicians and officials to the basic lessons of recent history and common sense. And because – weirdly – the voting public still trusts them, 60% of us apparently now support this apparently inevitable reckless and fatal revenge fest.

But thousands will support massive nationwide protest marches this week. We’ll gather to demonstrate against the idiocy of bombing desert camps and civilian towns that will drive hordes of new recruits into the suicide vest shops and the ISIS quartermasters stores, eager to tear our western lives apart. The resurgent left will speak out against war, because in a few years time, another Chilcot will start compiling a dossier of evidence against Cameron et al, incredulous that in so short a time we were ready to repeat the fatal errors of only a few years before.

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7 thoughts on “The resurgent left will speak out against war

  1. I for one thank Jeremy for consulting ordinary members on their views. Why should we support air strikes and tar our partys name(again) because of the right wing of the PLP, who make up less than 1% of the party membership. Jeremy is doing a great job under the circumstances and we should all support him.

  2. I don’t think that the case for air strikes has been made and I think that the issue has been used as an excuse by Blairites to destabilise Jeremy Corbyn as the Labour Party UK leader and the only option open for him would be to issue a 3 line whip for Labour MPs to vote against air strikes and then let’s see who votes in support of Cameron and the air strike. Listening to the MPs in favour of air strikes I can’t help but notice that they don’t take into consideration their local constituency party members and I am sure that they will pay a heavy price by being deselected at a later date.

  3. Corbyn has 2 problems. 1) He himself has voted against Labour whips on over 500 occasions: so he and his backers cannot now attack the pro bombers in Labour as disloyal. 2) Corbyn cannot really claim to be acting from a principled pacifist stance as his closeness, at times, to violent Irish Republicanism and to some very ropey Islamist groups: none of which could be described as pacifist, precludes this.

  4. Be interesting to see if certain rightwingers in the LP are shown the door.
    The same rightwingers cost us Scotland.

    1. Right wingers didn’t cost Labour Scotland. The unholy mess that the whole Labour Party, in Scotland, got itself into over a 30 odd year period cost Labour Scotland. The Party is moribund with few activists, members and funds.

      1. The party has more members and supporters than it’s had in 30 years, actually John.

        1. How many and how many are the £3 lot? The reality is that an awful lot of Labour branches are utterly moribund. During the referendum and General Election I hardly saw any Labour activists on the streets in either the Borders, West Lothian or Edinburgh. Ian Murray had a constituency organisation in Edinburgh and just about managed to survive. Many Labour MPs didn’t and didn’t.

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