by Kevin Meagher
It seems Labour is so full of policy ideas at the moment that it can afford to have not one but two foreign policies.
Backing President Trump’s missile attack on the Syrian airfield from which Bashir al-Assad’s warplanes bombed the town of Khan Sheikhoun with chemical weapons earlier this week, Deputy Leader, Tom Watson, described it as ‘a direct and proportionate response to a clear violation of international law by the Syrian regime.’
While agreeing this week’s attack was ‘a war crime’, Jeremy Corbyn instead emphasised that US military action ‘without legal authorisation or independent verification’ could make matters worse and risked intensifying ‘a multi-sided conflict that has already killed hundreds of thousands of people’.
This fault line between the leader and deputy leader of the Labour party is conspicuous.
And, so, the party is left suffering yet another damaging public bout of cognitive dissonance – holding two mutually exclusive opinions – while huddled in the political shop window rocking backwards and forwards, muttering to itself in front of the voters.
That’s the politics of it.
However, questions about military action – and whether or not to back it – obviously override domestic political concerns. Syria is not as straightforward as having ‘a line.’
And, so, in their way, both men are right, albeit for totally different reasons.
Watson spoke for many when he said that chemical weapons attacks on civilians ‘can never be tolerated and must have consequences.’