The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has told Labour members in the South West that Britain should work through the United Nations to try to bring a negotiated end to the Syrian civil war and end the “murderous rule” of ISIS. And he said “we must not be drawn into responses that feed a cycle of violence and hate.”
Jeremy was speaking at the Labour South West regional conference in Bristol, where new members joined long-serving activists to hear him set out what he called the “three pillars” of his leadership. They are:
• A new politics building from the ground up to bring power closer to the people and give grassroots Labour members a real say in policy
• Anti austerity economics and “socialism for the 21st century.”
• A different kind of foreign policy, based on the idea that “war is absolutely a last resort.”
Jeremy said: The dreadful Paris attacks make the case for a far more urgent effort to reach a negotiated settlement of the civil war in Syria and the end to the threat from Isis. It is the conflict in Syria and the consequences of the Iraq war which have created the conditions for Isis to thrive and spread its murderous rule.
“Britain has been at the centre of a succession of disastrous wars that have brought devastation to large parts of the wider Middle East. They have increased, not diminished, the threats to our own national security in the process.
“That in no way excuses or mitigates the responsibility of those who carry out these indefensible outrages, whether in Paris a week ago or in the last 24 hours in Bamako, Mali, or Beirut or Ankara. Absolutely nothing can justify attacks on civilian anywhere.”
He said British people must be protected from terrorist attacks and condemned Tory plans for cuts in the police, saying: “After Paris there must be no cuts to the police front line. To press ahead (with cuts) would be to gamble with our security.”
“Austerity is not an economic necessity, it is a political choice. George Osborne’s economics is a house built on sand. Rampant inequality has become the great scandal of our time. “We are not backward looking – we want a new socialism for the 21st century. Our aim is to take back power from the one per cent and put it in the hands of our communities.”
Bridgwater CLP was represented at the conference by Pat Warren, Kathy Pearce and Andy Lewis. Speakers during the day included deputy leader Tom Watson, shadow cabinet members Kerry McCarthy and Hillary Benn, MEP Clare Moody and the Labour candidate for Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees.
After his speech, Jeremy stayed on to talk to delegates and conference visitors. The West Somerset Labour secretary, Andy Lewis, said: “Jeremy clearly wants to hear the views of all Labour members. I asked him about rural policy and it is clear that he understands our fears about issues such as inadequate public transport and the Tory attack on social housing.”