Why is no one challenging Jeremy Corbyn on foreign policy?

Jeremy Corbyn's leadership bid was supposed to inspire debate, yet none of the other candidates have challenged him on foreign policy

 

Jeremy Corbyn’s latest opinion on foreign policy is that the UK should show more respect to Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Like his other announcements, they are going unchallenged by his rivals in the Labour leadership contest.

Like French far-right leader Marine Le Penn and UKIP leader Nigel Farage, Corbyn thinks that NATO, rather than Vladimir Putin, is at fault for the crisis in Ukraine.

Indeed, Stop the War Coalition, of which Corbyn is chair, regularly pushes pieces so blinkered they could well have been written by the Kremlin itself, such as the ridiculously titled ‘Why the United States launched its proxy war against Russia in Ukraine.’

Moreover, Corbyn expressed regret that Poland was allowed to join NATO, claiming that, ‘We should have gone down the road Ukraine went down in 1990’ (because that has worked out so well).

There’s more. Corbyn’s associations with anti-Semites include: his ‘friends’ Hamas and Hezbollah, his praise for a blood-libel-spreading, 9/11 conspiracy theorist Islamist preacher, who he even invited to take tea on the terrace of the House of Commons, moonlighting for George Galloway on Iranian government propaganda channel Press TV, allegedly donating money to a pressure group run by a holocaust denier and deemed too extreme by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and defending a priest who shared on social media an article entitled ‘9/11: Israel did it’.

As far as I am aware, none of the current Labour leadership contenders have sought to challenge Corbyn’s views on these issues.

It is staggering that Labour Party figures accuse Corbyn of wanting to return to the days of British Leyland or a ‘Soviet-style’ economy simply for wanting to bring the railways into public ownership (something Andy Burnham claims to support), but will say nothing about his repeated association with anti-Semitic figures or his anti-NATO, pro-Russia, pro-Hamas, pro-Hezbollah stances.

Even in Alistair Campbell’s blog urging people to vote for anyone but Corbyn, there is no proper attempt to challenge Corbyn’s ideology; he simply says Corbyn would be bad for the Labour Party.

If Corbyn can still be defeated it will only be through convincing the party members and supporters why he is wrong – not simply saying he is wrong over and over again.

Whether one agrees with him or not, to the vast majority of people Corbyn comes across as a genuine character, with deeply held convictions (and a record for being the most rebellious Labour MP to back this up). He speaks to Labour members and supporters outraged by the fact the party leadership made such a mess on the welfare bill. Like them, he opposed it and like them, he does not want to tack further to the right.

It is perfectly understandable that party members and supporters are more inclined to vote for someone who comes across as a conviction politician – someone who talks about wanting to turn the party back into a social movement – rather than vote for someone based on whether or not the Tories will fear them.

Put bluntly, people voting for Corbyn know he will not do a Nick Clegg.

By contrast, rival candidates come across as though they are continuing Ed Miliband’s strategy of Balkanising voters: thinking that if they can simply say the right thing to different groups of supporters then they will secure their nominations – clearly this did not work for Ed and is failing epically at present.

There are very serious arguments to be had over many of Corbyn’s views and it’s puzzling that his rival candidates haven’t offered a more extensive critique of them; simply attempting to scare party members into not voting for Corbyn, just saying that he is bad, has failed.

Several MPs claimed they were backing Corbyn not because they support him, but in order to ‘broaden the debate.’ Even at this late stage, can we actually have that debate?

Lorin Bell-Cross is a researcher at BICOM and assistant editor of Fathom Journal. He is writing in a personal capacity. Follow him on Twitter.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today. 

241 Responses to “Why is no one challenging Jeremy Corbyn on foreign policy?”

  1. ray vison

    Why is this website called Left Foot Forward if it is anti-left? Weird.

  2. Harry

    I thought this was a left-wing blog? Why attack Corbyn with a load of Daily Mail allegations (literally) when he’s the only left-wing candidate actually running? It’s hardly rocket science that issues in Eastern Europe and the Middle East are predominantly caused by Western imperialism. And some of the stuff in this article comes dangerously close to the mainstream media’s idolisation of Israel and denouncement of any detractors as anti-semites.

  3. Harry

    You’re a fucking idiot.

  4. Lamia

    A very weak effort. None of that, even if true, has any bearing on whether or not it’s Russia that has annexed Ukraine’s sovereign territory. It has. The US hasn’t.

  5. Asteri

    What about it? UK didn’t do really anything there, that was France.

  6. Asteri

    How many crazy right-wing neo-Eustonite uni-grads is LFF going to publish? I want another by the guy who want’s the UK to invade North Korea with only 100,000 casualties.

  7. verticalaudio

    Yawns….

  8. verticalaudio

    Anyone actually care to engage with the substantive issue and answer the points listed about Corbyn’s associations with Jew haters?

    Those points are either:
    1) Not true – great. I bloody hope so, so let’s see the evidence.
    2) True and you will condemn association with those who preach hate against Jews and spread rubbish like the blood libel. In which case you’ll want to reconsider your support for Corbyn or urge him to apologise and sever those links.
    3) True but you just don’t think it’s important and that Jews and others who criticise him on those grounds should just get over it and stop trying to spoil the party for everyone else.
    4) True and you are happy with those links and statements. What’s so wrong about a bit of racial hatred against the Jews – they deserve it and bring it upon themselves.

    So – which is it folks?

  9. yougottaproblemwiddat

    I stopped reading when you stated that a large portion of the UK Labour party is comprised of “Putinbots”.
    Also: get some tutoring, strive for conciseness. Have a nice day.

  10. Giambologna

    Your opening line is ‘Jeremy Corbyn’s latest opinion on foreign policy is that the UK should show more respect to Vladimir Putin’s Russia.’

    Corbyn didn’t actually say this – see http://www.theguardian.com/media/mediamonkeyblog/2015/aug/13/british-press-putin-the-boot-into-corbyn

    Get your facts right

  11. verticalaudio

    YSL? On my budget? Are you crazy?

    Re your points:

    1) The evidence has been put forward re associations with anti-semitic organisations & individuals. There’s lots of it. It’s out there in full view. The next step is usually that journalists etc put the facts to said person, who then denies and puts forward evidence to prove that the evidence is false. It’s not a controversial process. In this case however, Corbyn resolutely refuses to answer the questions. Silence cannot be taken as proof of “innocence” surely? If it is, then I can predict a lot of lawyers going for a late life career change. Read the Jewish Chronicle article. They’ve put 7 very clear questions to him – twice – and he refuses to answer.

    http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/142144/the-key-questions-jeremy-corbyn-must-answer

    2) Guilt by association – agree re govts. They have to deal with all sorts of crazies. And that’s just their own Cabinet. But Corbyn has shared stages & platforms with some truly outrageous and nasty people who are Jew haters. That’s not true of a lot of Labour MPs, is it? He’ll be doing just that later on this month at a MEMO conference with a great cartoonist…
    And he didn’t have to do any of that in order to pose stiffly for a press photo opportunity whilst at an international summit of corrupt, nefarious world leaders. He choose to do it as an unencumbered free agent during his time as a backbench MP under very little public scrutiny.
    Re Blair – you’ll not find me defending him.

    3) All those associations undermine his case to have a commitment to equality, anti-racism and progressive social views. Again, the vast majority of Labour MPs (including the other crap candidates) do not have their credibility undermined in this way. Re “diplomacy” – JC is not, and has never carried out a diplomatic role – official or unofficial. He is a profoundly partisan actor. Now it’s ok to be partisan – that’s what politics is often about – but you can’t then claim it to be a diplomatic role or stance.

    So – again, which is it?

  12. Lamia

    Weak. At any rate, my argument is there, with cited evidence, for anyone to read, while you’ve slunk away having failed to substantiate yours. Have a nice day.

  13. yougottaproblemwiddat

    Tell us more about how the State Dept list of “terrorists” is ALWAYS a trusty moral guide even, perhaps especially, when it changes.
    Not power politics, no siree, why the thought of it!

  14. Kiosk

    Here’s a fact which may come in useful, Steve: when Jews hear someone say, in reply to a moderate statement re. the Middle East, “You obviously love the Jews and by extension, Israel,” then follow that up by saying, effectively, “gee, get a grip, it wasn’t ONLY Jews who died in the Holocaust”, then claim that it’s OK for supposedly left-wing politicians to hang around with – and praise – anti-semites, “in the interests of free speech and understanding”… they immediately recognise an enemy. Or a useful idiot. Which amounts to the same thing, in the end.

  15. Lamia

    I didn’t mention the State Department, because I didn’t consult it. Corbyn’s sympathy for extremists has been well-documented here, not least by non-MSM British blogs, for years.

    It appears that is often difficult for know-it-all Yanks to grasp that the rest of the world doesn’t revolve around their own politics and media, and we don’t have to come to your government or media to get information about our own country and its politicians. Wind your neck in.

  16. Lamia

    In living memory, Soviet Russia managed to kill millions of Ukrainians by starvation, ethnically cleansed the Tatars there, and followed up by settling large numbers of ethnic Russians in Ukraine. Not very familiar with Ukranian history, are you?

  17. Junis

    “why is no one challenging jeremy corbyn on foreign policy? ” =========> the writer of above article is not working for a politically left leaning group. “left foot forward” is a new Labour /neo conservative publication masquerading as left leaning pro-justice.

    No one can challenge jeremy corbyn because his he is right

  18. Gaz Lewis

    I don’t know what else you would call rockets at civilians and suicide jackets going off in hospitals anything but terrorism..
    Legitimate defence?

  19. Gaz Lewis

    Err, what’s your point? Most countries have barriers on their borders of other countries.. 😐

  20. Gaz Lewis

    Of course not.

  21. yougottaproblemwiddat

    You personally see nothing wrong with the US govt interfering in the domestic politics of countries far away, building up a global empire of vassal states, crushing democracy if need be, for the benefit of the Western elite.
    Now, if a lowly US citizen types out a comment somewhere: foaming outrage!
    That’s pathetic, illustrative, and unsurprising.

  22. gaia

    “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.

  23. Austin Phillip

    Corbyn Is Correct On Russia …

    Not Only About The U.S Coup In Ukraine

    See Pilger – See Kissinger – See Mearsheimer

    See Cohen – See Chomsky

    But The Idea We Are Somehow Going To Start A War

    With Russia A Nuclear Power In Benefit Of U.S Hegemony .

    Because It Makes Left Wing Intellectuals

    Feel All Moral …. Is Not Only Delusional / It’s Dangerous

    I Am Almost Certain . Russia A New Country

    Finding It’s Own Way In The World ..

    Will Not Be Taking Advice From The Same

    Sanctimonious Liberals Who Helped

    Murder Almost 1 Million Muslims In The Arab World

    Get A GRIP….

    The rest Of The Article …Is So SuperficialIt Does Not Warrant A Response

  24. Lamia

    In this instance US ‘interference’ amounted to talking to both sides of the politica spectrum in Ukraine. It didn’t amount to invading and annexing its territory, as Russia did. So that is a strawman and in any case irrelevant in this instance.

    Now, if a lowly US citizen types out a comment somewhere

    This thread is on Jeremy Corbyn. If you hadn’t used the tone you did such in trying to explain the politics of my own my country to me through the lens of the politics/media of your own country, then you would not have got such a sharp reply.

    By all means consider the slate wiped.

  25. Esmee Phillips

    The alternative to Corbyn is remaining with Britain’s tongue up Washington’s bum, with the occasional loving lick for Tel Aviv.

    You faux-red lot might want that. The majority of socialists and radicals in this country don’t. And the majority of voters is more interested in keeping foreign invaders out (e.g. at Calais) then sending our troops to be killed or disabled in foreign oilfields,butchering the natives while telling them it’s all for the good of their ‘modernity’..

    PS: Stuff NATO and scrap Trident. Out of the EU. Britain for the British working class.

  26. Esmee Phillips

    How many millions did Nuland boast of spending to make Ukraine into ‘our guys’?

    Poor old Uncle Sam, always botches the Great Game and always gets blowback which makes it stink a bit more in the world’s nostrils. It really ought to give up imperialism, it’s been losing all along the line since the Korean War stalemated.

    At least Obama got a deal with Iran, which meets with the approval of Israeli commanders and security professionals if not with that of Binyi or Melanie Phillips.

  27. Esmee Phillips

    “Shame on you.” LOL. Ask the rabbi. You can almost see the finger wagging.

    Google ‘Torah True Jews’.

  28. Esmee Phillips

    Why do these people keep talking double Dutch about ‘semite’ when they mean Jew?

    Arabs are semites. And in the eyes of many of us, there is little to choose between the fractious fools of different religions (or none, in the case of most Zionists) in that nasty little corner of the globe known as the Near East. These semites deserve one another.

    Anyway, it sure as hell won’t make any difference to the outcome of the Labour election which bunch of semites is beating up which.

  29. Esmee Phillips

    I wish Britain had as much right to filter its population as the Zionists claim for their state, while preaching the blessings of racial diversity to the rest of the world.

  30. Esmee Phillips

    Corbyn is a vegetarian. So was Hitler. They both liked dogs. They both had facial hair. Neither learned to drive.

    Oh, it’s all so obvious, why can’t you hateful gentiles see it, or are you just too stupid?

    Yours objectively

    Perry Noia,

    Hasbara Co-ordinator for Finchley.

  31. Esmee Phillips

    Please sir, what’s a love crime?

  32. Esmee Phillips

    Funny how many people don’t know that fascism was overthrown in Italy 72 years ago and has been nothing but an empty term of abuse ever since.

  33. Esmee Phillips

    It’sjust Harry’s Place for the goyim.

  34. Esmee Phillips

    It’s another microsite for modern-day descendants of Max Schachtman and apoogists for the world’s most officially racist state.

    Gve me an honest Orthodox settler any day, rather than these friends of humanity.

  35. Esmee Phillips

    The British electorate does not give two tosses either way. It believes in living and letting live.

  36. Esmee Phillips

    Anyway, this garbage by association is getting the supporters of Labour’s clone candidates precisely nowhere. It isn’t even winning sympathy for Corbyn. The Friends of Israel have missed the (sex-segregated Jerusalem) bus.

    Can’t you hasbara chorus understand? You and your obsessions don’t matter either way. You are less than a marginal distraction in Britain.

    Really, the quality and subtlety of Zionist spin is getting worse every year. You just can’t get the staff nowadays. And what with so many bright young British Jews feeling embarrassed by Uncle Sam’s little Levantine bully, it’s no wonder.

  37. yougottaproblemwiddat

    The Nuland call is on Youtube, anyone see that’s a misrepresentation.
    Stoking a civil war in Ukraine is geopolitics and the UK is not a major player in that game. Even if Corbyn were elected PM, the US will carry on fine, don’t you worry.
    So, why should that topic condition major domestic policy decisions re public services, austerity, economic inequality?
    Makes no sense, especially from a leftist such as yourself.

  38. stevep

    Winston Churchill once said “To Jaw Jaw, is always better than to War War”, meaning that it is far better to engage in a dialogue with other nations or groups who may be your enemy than to engage them in war.
    Bill Clinton was also an advocate of the principle.
    So what make Jeremy Corbyn any different? He would rather see peace than conflict and has always sought to promote understanding between rival regimes and interests.
    I`ll tell you what makes him different, he`s a threat to the established cosy right wing consensus of the last 30 years or so. That`s why he is being vilified.
    Oh, and I didn`t say, “Gee, get a grip etc.” or claim that it`s ok for supposedly left wing politicians to hang around with, and praise anti-semites, you just did.
    I pointed out, correctly, that other groups suffered under the Nazis, too. They are usually forgotten. It`s a historical fact.
    I don’t suppose Corbyn is treated as a “useful idiot” by various factions any more or less than Blair/Gadaffi, Nixon/ Mao Zedong, Mowlam/Adams, Truman/Stalin, Thatcher/Pinochet etc.
    You seem to have a problem with anyone talking about Israel in a world context. do you have the same problem with people talking about China, Lithuania, Russia, Belgium, Palestine, Central African Republic, or Venezuela?
    No, thought not.

  39. Erin Van Der Maas

    wrong – i am not denying a right to self determination for Jews but that doesn’t mean i can’t attack what Israel does or the fact that it seems exclusively for Jews at the expense of others in the country? I believe the British have a right to self determination but that doesn’t mean i can’t attack Cameron and the Tories and the establishment for running a nasty regime?

  40. Erin Van Der Maas

    you managed to tell me what my position was, whose self determination i was denying and how prejudiced i am…without even know what i think about all this…a normal issue with debates here – polarised sides throwing abusive comments at each other.

  41. verticalaudio

    Ok – you are probably right.

    But to put my response in context – I and many others are being bombarded by appalling hate speak at the moment (not that this is a new phenomena) by people who will deny being anti-semitic but then spout the most outrageous nonsense.
    No one EVER comes out and say “Hi – I’m an anti-Semite.” Even the worst Holocaust deniers will claim not to be anti-Semitic.
    So you will have to forgive my initial frostiness. Just look at the nasty, ill-educated crap passing for comments after this article if you need a little more context.
    If I offended you – sorry. But the vast majority of offense is coming from the left towards Jews. And it’s a new low point in the history of what we used to call the Labour movement.
    And for the record – if you or anyone else tells me they are “anti-Israel” rather than “opposed to the policies of successive right wing Israeli governments”, then I will call you on it. If you are “anti” the existence of that state I will give you a reasoned argument why that is a position founded on myth and prejudice – not defensible in logic or political philosophy.
    Just to clarify – I firmly believe in a 2 state solution. I’m not “anti” a Palestinian state. I do reserve the right to pass judgement on fascistic, theocratic, repressive and illiberal parties – Hamas & Hizbollah included. And yes – I condemn the right wing religious Jewish extremists and Likud that lets them wield a disproportionate amount of influence on Israeli policy.
    But don’t come at me with an “I’m not anti-Semitic but I’m anti the existence of Israel” argument.
    Been there, heard it a million times and I have no respect for that position.

    And most importantly – if you read my comment you’ll find that very little of it was actually about Israel. It’s about the fact that the actions and words of Corbyn (and post factum of his supporters) have deeply upset and worried a very very small minority group. And that the Left, liberal media and the Labour Party has totally failed to even acknowledge this. You failed to acknowledge it too.

    For the record – I think it’s shameful but long in the making. Corbyn and his fellow travellers have spent 30 years or more helping to create this toxic brew of prejudice masquerading as concern for “peace”.

    Fine – if that’s how the “left” (or whatever it wants to call itself now) wants to play it. But don’t expect me to sit quietly by or applaud this descent into hate and political adolescence.

  42. Colin Lawson

    This article would be a lot more convincing if the author’s supporting evidence didn’t consist of Mail on Line, and Daily Telegraph articles and various right wing commentators. I would like to see links to actual speeches or articles by Jeremy Corbyn to substantiate the allegations contained in this article. Until I have seen the evidence this article is worthless.

  43. George Carty

    Perhaps Jeremy Corbyn’s pro-Russian stance is driven by his hostility to nuclear energy?

    A Britain that phased out nuclear energy would be heavily dependent on Russian gas (now that North Sea gas is becoming exhausted), no matter how much it tried to greenwash this with wind turbines and solar panels.

    One can note that former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder – architect of that country’s nuclear phase-out policy – was rewarded almost immediately after leaving office with a €500,000 per year job at Nordstream AG – the company charged with building a pipeline under the Baltic Sea to deliver Russian gas to Germany (and which just so happens to have the right capacity to replace the output of Germany’s nuclear reactor fleet).

    Obviously Gazprom knew that his talk of replacing nuclear with renewables was just BS to sucker voters ignorant of energy issues…

  44. George Carty

    Islamists? Where’s the Sharia law in Bosnia and Kosovo then?

    (You can’t be an “Islamist” if you don’t want Sharia law – it’s kind of the definition of the word…)

  45. George Carty

    If you want a real left-wing government, you’ll need to find some way to break the electoral power of the greedy boomer homeowners of London and the south east.

    New Labour did pursue some genuinely progressive policies, but they also allowed house price inflation to run rampant (in my view an even more damaging decision than that to participate in the Iraq War) in order to buy the votes of said greedy boomers, who then went on a spending spree funded by mortgage equity withdrawal, splashing out on luxury holidays and imported consumer goods.

    Tory austerity is simply about forcing poor youngsters, renters and northerners to pay down the debts which the government ran up to bail out the banks, which in turn had been rendered insolvent by the profligacy of the southern boomers!

  46. Houston

    Absolutely Daniel, and hasn’t Blair met with Hamas? We are still waiting for the Chilcott report!

  47. David Lindsay

    Coming along nicely, by all accounts.

  48. Kiosk

    Actually, I’ll tell you what makes Jeremy Corbyn different: he’s a backbench MP. We’re not talking about summit meetings or crisis talks here. We’re talking about some goon inviting Fascists round for tea then getting all defensive when he’s called on it.

    Corbyn being “a threat to the established cosy right wing consensus of the last 30 years or so” may be why he’s being vilified in the Daily Mail, but it’s not why he’s being vilified here.

    The last bit of your comment makes no actual sense, but it looks like you were talking to yourself anyway, so never mind.

  49. Riversideboy

    well said

  50. Riversideboy

    Yep nearly right but I am a boomer and not greedy like a lot of us 49 ers who are socialist.

Leave a Reply