Jeremy Corbyn says ‘we might be in for years’ of a war in Ukraine
Mr Corbyn appeared on Al Mayadeen, a Middle East television station which backs Syria’s President Bashar Assad, last week to rail against Western nations sending weapons to the country, which was invaded by Russia on February 24. The MP for Islington North is likely to return to the subject when he takes to the stage at the Edinburgh Fringe today, along with Len McCluskey general secretary of Unite the Union, for an event entitled Politics and Poetry with Corbyn and McCluskey.
John Spellar, MP for Warley in the West Midlands, said Mr Corbyn’s attitude was “worse than naive – it’s irresponsible”.
He added: “Basically, if we weren’t supporting Ukraine, then the Putin regime would have crushed them and liberty in Ukraine months ago, and would have posed a massive threat to security and democracy in Europe.
“Once again, Jeremy Corbyn has taken the wrong side of history.
Jeremy Corbyn and Russian President Vladimir Putin
“This is a simplistic view of the world that he’s had all the way through.
“Whilst enjoying all the benefits of living in a western democracy, the United States and the West are wrong, whoever is opposed to them must be right.
“Otherwise, why would he be appearing on some of these radio and TV stations of the dictators from the Middle East, and let alone those from Russia?”
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Jeremy Corbyn speaking the Al Mayadeen
Labour withdrew the whip from Mr Corbyn, 73, who led the party to a crushing defeat in the 2019 general election, in October 2020 after he claimed anti-Semitism in the party had been overstated for political reasons.
Mr Spellar was parliamentary under-secretary for Defence from 1997 to 199, and Armed Forces Minister from 1999 to 2001, and is currently a member of Parliament’s Defence Committee.
Asked about the massive gulf between Mr Corbyn and himself even though they were for many years in the same political outfit, he said: “When you have two parties, there will always be a huge spread of opinion within those within those parties – that’s absolutely inevitable.
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“The question then is, whether the policy programmes they’re pushing forward are acceptable, particularly to the centre ground in the British electorate clearly and obviously, Jeremy Corbyn’s view of the world when it temporarily took over the Labour Party was not acceptable to the sort of public in Britain.
“But also, within parties, it’s a question of balance, and most of the time, and certainly the periods where we are able to get into Government, is when the mainstream of the Labour Party and progressive opinion in Britain is in charge.
“And where the extremist takeover whether with Tony Benn or, with Jeremy Corbyn, then it’s rejected by the public. That’s the lesson that Labour MPs Labour Party members, and indeed Labour voters have to have to remember.”
John Spellar is a former Labour defence minister
Looking to the future under current leader Sir Keir Starmer, Mr Spellar said: “We’ve made huge progress and that is why we’ve been ahead almost continuously in the opinion polls for well over a year.
“The public understands there’s been a change of management and therefore, many of the people whom they would not trust with defending their country and also securing a decent standard of living for them are no longer in charge.
“This applies to Jeremy Corbyn and also those who seek not a Parliamentary road for progress but a revolutionary route. They have been rejected at the ballot box and rejected in the Labour Party.”
Speaking last week, Mr Corbyn said the international community should force a peace deal between Ukraine and Russia, with the help of the African Union and Arab League, including Syria.
He also said “Ukrainians are dying… and Russian soldiers are dying” and appeared to blame the conflict on NATO, suggesting the alliance’s expansion had caused “greater strain and greater stress”.
A spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn said: “Jeremy Corbyn has always condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including in Parliament, at public meetings and a large peace rally attended by thousands in Trafalgar Square in March.
He has a long record as a staunch critic of Vladimir Putin and was one of the few MPs to speak out against his state visit to the UK in protest at Russia’s prosecution of the Chechen war.”