Labour needs to clarify its defence policy

Originally published on Left Foot Forward 18/11/15.

Jeremy Corbyn needs to make his position on NATO clear and commit to supporting the principle of collective defence.

During the leadership campaign the North Atlantic Alliance was a clear point of contention between Corbyn and the three other candidates. Corbyn’s desire to withdraw from NATO and his view that the military alliance is to blame for Russian aggression in Ukraine are well known.

His supporters have cited this as an areas where he could compromise to unite the party. Corbyn himself has vaguely talked about Britain having a different relationship within NATO rather than leaving. In a Channel 4 debate he criticised NATO’s ‘excessive expansion’ and insisted that Britain should ‘argue quite strongly in NATO for a more realistic view of what its role is’...

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Will Labour commit to 2% of GDP on defence?

Originally published on LabourList 17/02/2015.

Labour activists don’t knock doors on a Saturday morning to argue for more money for bombs. No party does because voters don’t care that much about defence spending.

The UK’s role in the world is often a low priority for the electorate, rarely are votes gained or lost over a foreign policy decision. War may seem like the exception to this rule, but even the unpopular UK involvement in the overthrow of Saddam Hussein didn’t result in a change of government in 2005.

This isn’t going to be any different in 2015. Labour will rightly fight this election on living standards and the NHS. Some in Labour may feel uneasy about spending money on the military in tough financial times. However, we should commit to retaining NATO’s standard of spending 2% of our GDP on defence...

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Selfish Scottish ‘Socialism’

The Ashcroft poll that predicted an SNP landslide in Scotland was thoroughly depressing. Disappointing because it showed Labour getting hit hard in its historic fiefdom, potentially leading to five more years of Cameron. But also because it could be signalling the beginning of the end of our country.

This swing is a likely a result of Sturgeon positioning the SNP to the left of Labour.

But how left-wing can a bunch of petty nationalists really be? What’s progressive about creating borders between working people? Using ‘our oil’ for ‘our people’ seems selfish not socialist.

Labour wants to tackle inequality across our country. Alleviating child poverty in Glasgow is just as important as tackling it in Birmingham. It doesn’t matter what side of Hadrian’s Wall some lives. The shared struggles we face should unite us, we should not allow the devise politics of the SNP to divide people against each other.

I wouldn’t rule out a coalition, I’m a pragmatist. But I really don’t want to see Labour get in bed with Salmond.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how left-wing the SNP might appear to be, their desire to destroy our country is something we reject.

A Pointless Debate?

Cameron has got what he wants, the TV debates have descended into a farce. 

It was stretch to include the Green Party. The broadcasters rightly concluded that they were not a major party. Unfortunately UKIP are a significant force in British politics after winning the European elections and large numbers of council seats.

As a Labour supporter, some may argue that I have a vested interested in keeping any party to the left of Labour out of the debates. Not true. I more than happy to take on the Greens. I’m not one of these lefties that thinks the Greens are great but out of loyalty votes Labour. Rather I don’t think they have creditable policies or the people to govern the country and should be challenged on this.

Having the Greens, Plaid Cymru and the SNP in a debate could be good for Labour. It will shift the discussion to issues that social democrats really care about, instead of a debate dominated by Farage banging on about Europe. So in the respect this news is welcome.

The only problem is it really won’t be a debate. How can it be? With seven parties (not to mention possibly the DUP and Respect) and only one hour and bit. I can’t imagine there will much opportunity for discussion or in-depth scrutiny.

It might make for interesting TV but it means the proposed head-to-head between the two potential Prime Minsters is really is the one to watch.