17 January 2016

Is George Osborne running Labour’s defence policy?


One possible explanation for the ongoing meltdown of Labour’s defence policy is that the Tory Chancellor George Osborne won the right to ‎run in it the Westminster Christmas raffle. It certainly looks as though the opposition’s defence review is being conducted with a Conservative landslide at the next general election in mind.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s position on Britain’s security gets more ridiculous by the day. Not only has he appointed as his new shadow defence secretary Emily Thornberry, who registered a large parliamentary donation from Leigh Day, the London law firm in trouble over its pursuit of British soldiers who fought in Iraq. Before that he instituted a defence review involving Ken Livingstone – Ken Livingstone! – with the aim of shifting Labour policy so that the far left new membership will then vote at party conference to make it policy to scrap Trident.

Now, after Andrew Marr had the temerity to ask Corbyn about defence in an interview for the BBC, ‎the options in that review have become even clearer. Corbyn insists that the UK might keep its Trident submarines after all, but (and this is a big but) they wouldn’t carry any nuclear warheads when they are out on continuous patrol. The nuclear weapons would all be stored back in Britain. In this way the UK would keep the submarines and missiles well apart. In an emergency the Ministry of Defence would have to say to the aggressor: “I say old chap, would you mind awfully hanging on while we tootle back to base and locate our nuclear warheads? Splendid. We’ll be right with you.”

Or perhaps Corbyn envisages Trident during his premiership being used as a delivery system for sending stern letters to ISIS telling them to stop it? Indeed, Thornberry, in her monthly defeat in intellectual combat at the hands of the BBC’s Andrew Neil, indicated this weekend that she wants a channel of communication opened with ISIS. What a brilliant idea. Are there any volunteers from the Corbyn team willing to go over there in a submarine and open up said communications? The Royal Navy will get you as fas as Tel Aviv and then I’m sure the Israelis will be delighted to drop you in ISIS territory.

This ruination of Labour by the hard left is a national tragedy. Labour under its current leadership is lost in London leftie territory, spurred on by new members who opted to put their fingers in their ears after the party lost to the Tories by two million votes at the last general election. Now, Labour has a leader who even muses about surrendering the Falklands (which is what an accommodation with Argentina would amount to) and who has no conception (being a bear of little brain) how the idea of nuclear submarines without nuclear warheads will play with both floating voters and core Labour voters outside London. What more provocation do Labour’s moderates need to press the nuclear button and get rid of Corbyn or form a breakaway party? When are they going to do something?

Iain Martin is Editor of CapX