The first shot in the British Labour Party’s civil war was fired last night when leader Jeremy Corbyn fired (or they say in Britain, sacked) Shadow Europe Minister Pat McFadden for saying that no one forces terrorists to kill innocent people. I kid you not.
On November 17th, four days after the Paris attacks, McFadden stood up in the House of Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions and posed this question to David Cameron:
May I ask the prime minister to reject the view that sees terrorist acts as always being a response or a reaction to what we in the west do? Does he agree that such an approach risks infantilising the terrorists and treating them like children, when the truth is that they are adults who are entirely responsible for what they do? No one forces them to kill innocent people in Paris and Beirut and unless we are clear about that we will fail even to be able to understand the threat we face let alone confront it and ultimately overcome it.
While Cameron praised McFadden for the “moral clarity” of his question, Corbyn saw the question as challenging his authority. Corbyn had been due to deliver a speech in which he would have criticized Britain’s military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq as being detrimental to Britain’s security. However, this address was cancelled as it was to be given the day after the Paris attacks.
The revolt would have been much larger had Corbyn also sacked Hilary Benn. Last month, Benn spoke in favor of military intervention in Syria in the House of Commons earning a rare standing ovation from MPs on all sides of the aisle and obvious discomfort from Corbyn. Benn will stay on the Labour front benches, but will not be allowed to speak if his views diverge from Corbyn’s. Under these conditions, I can’t see this state of affairs lasting indefinitely.
Of course, Cameron and the Tories are having a field day over this row. Mind you, Cameron isn’t much better than Corbyn given his close relationship with President Obama and his enthusiasm for the Iran nuclear deal.
But if for a Labour MP to say that Islamic terrorists are responsible for their own actions is an affront to Jeremy Corbyn then it says a great deal both about him and the Labour Party members who saw fit to elect him leader last September. This episode reminds me why I could no longer identify myself as a socialist in the aftermath of 9/11.