The Labour Party is once again at war with itself after deputy leader Tom Watson and the party’s right wing came out in support of US airstrikes against Syria, while pacifist leader Jeremy Corbyn “urged restraint.”
Corbyn critics John Woodcock MP and Michael Dugher MP have long supported British military intervention in the conflict. But on Friday even deputy leader Watson came out in support of US President Donald Trump’s latest move.
“Indiscriminate chemical weapons attacks on civilians can never be tolerated and must have consequences,” Watson told the Birmingham Mail.
Trump’s response, he added, was “direct and proportionate.”
However, Corbyn’s statement on the matter struck a very different tone, warning the missile attack risks “escalating the war in Syria still further.”
“Tuesday’s horrific chemical attack was a war crime which requires urgent independent UN investigation and those responsible must be held to account,” Corbyn said.
“But unilateral military action without legal authorisation or independent verification risks intensifying a multi-sided conflict that has already killed hundreds of thousands of people.”
The statement, which critics called “slow” and “wrong,” added: “What is needed instead is to urgently reconvene the Geneva peace talks and unrelenting international pressure for a negotiated settlement of the conflict.
“The terrible suffering of the Syrian people must be brought to an end as soon as possible and every intervention must be judged on what contribution it makes to that outcome. The British government should urge restraint on the Trump administration and throw its weight behind peace negotiations and a comprehensive political settlement.”
Stop criticising Corbyn’s slow response: it takes time for Seamas to run the draft statement by the Kremlin, Stop the War + the Morning Star
— Michael Dugher MP (@MichaelDugher) April 7, 2017
Corbyn is wrong on Syria – but at least he believes what he’s saying, unlike his predecessor, who caused colossal harm in his 2013 actions.
— Alex Shilling (@alexshilling) April 7, 2017
Corbyn’s supporters, however, seemed pleased with the leader’s reaction, labeling it “principled” and worlds apart from his predecessor Tony Blair.