Corbyn’s distaste for military intervention ignores the necessities of our present-day world

Take it from me, finding yourself in agreement with the Chancellor of the Exchequer is an unusual and unpleasant sensation. I have only had this experience once before, when George Osborne said during the Scottish referendum campaign that an independent government in Edinburgh could not just expect to keep all the good bits of a union it had just given the middle finger to. But now I find myself concurring again with the Chancellor, this time on the issue of Jeremy Corbyn and national security.

I remember reading somewhere that Osborne burst open a bottle of champagne when Ed Miliband was elected leader in 2010, so it’s reasonable to expect the Tories will throw quite a bash if Corbyn is anointed this week. In many ways, he’s almost too easy a target. They will frame him as an economically illiterate left-wing nutcase who will undo the recovery and send us plunging back into recession (although are we really out of it?). And although some of us may like to think the electorate is wizened to the dark magic of political propaganda, it was the Tories who had the clearer message at the last election. Remember how they harped on relentlessly about the ‘long-term economic plan’ and the ‘dangers’ of a possible SNP-Labour alliance? It is safe to say the attacks on Corbyn will run along the same lines, and they’ll be just as unremitting. In fact he’s not even been elected yet and they’ve already started doing it.

Then there is the foreign policy. Corbyn has long been criticised for his meetings with members of the IRA and Hamas, his desire to take Britain out of NATO, his intention to abolish the country’s nuclear weapons, and more recently for his weird comments about the death of Osama bin Laden. Although I am with him on the nuclear issue (outrageously destructive and unusable weapons parked less than thirty miles from the house have never made me feel ‘safe’), there is some truth in what Cameron and Osborne have been saying about Corbyn undermining the nation’s safety.

I’m concerned that the presumptive leader of the Labour Party has been so staunchly opposed to using his country’s military force to help beggared people overseas, especially when he so obviously cares deeply about the plight of the poor in his own nation. Corbyn has said time and again that we were wrong to kick the Taliban out of Afghanistan in 2001; wrong to remove the equally egregious Saddam Hussein from power in 2003; and wrong to stop Slobodan Milosevic’s campaign of terror and ethnic cleansing in the late 1990s. He says we were also wrong to reclaim the Falklands after they were illegally snatched by Argentina in 1982, even though the British victory in that war helped topple the barbaric and monstrous military dictatorship of General Galtieri and allowed Argentina to begin a slow and long-overdue march towards democracy.

I was disappointed to miss a chance to see Corbyn do his show in my home city, not because I wanted to be part of the latest political fad, but because I wanted to ask him a simple question: where does it end? For instance, were we wrong to stand up to Hitler, just as we were wrong to put up a fight against Galtieri and Milosevic and Hussein? If yes, then it would only confirm what I have already began to realise over the last few months: when it comes to Britain’s role in the world Corbyn is not a radical but an extreme conservative; someone who believes any kind of military intervention on the part of the west is unjustifiable and unscrupulous.

Many other politically-minded people my age are drooling with unqualified love at the very sight of Corbyn. It’s intriguing how the oldest and scruffiest candidate in the leadership contest has had such an effect on the young. I put this down not only to the weaknesses of the three candidates who are standing against him but his own eloquence, which Corbyn has honed and perfected through several decades of vibrant public speaking and campaigning. He’s the most articulate and interesting candidate to listen to. He comes across as sincere and yet relaxed, while the other three, in their attempts to do something similar, merely seem ingratiating and two-dimensional.

It will be interesting to see how he fares against David Cameron at PMQs. Hopefully such confrontations will allow us to finally bury the old lie, parroted by the SNP and others, that the reds and the blues are just two cheeks of the same backside, and that anyone to the centre of the Labour Party are nothing more than ‘red Tories’. But in another way it will be a great shame. The man who seems like he can save Labour is probably going to do more to kill it, and at a time when the left in this country seriously needs to rejuvenate and unite itself. I’ve long thought that if the contest was just some kind of political beauty pageant, Corbyn would definitely deserve to win. But it’s not, and he has a serious job to do. The wars in the Middle East and other oversees conflicts are not going away. We need an opposition leader who takes a practical approach to foreign policy instead of one who rejects all military action out of hand. I suppose it’s just as well he’ll never become Prime Minister.

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