Labour Members Rebel Against Pacifist Leader

Few lawmakers share Jeremy Corbyn’s resistance to airstrikes against the self-declared Islamic State.

Labour's Jeremy Corbyn is interviewed in Margate, England, September 5
Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn is interviewed in Margate, England, September 5 (Simon Moores)

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is facing a revolt from his members, the majority of whom want to support airstrikes against the radical Islamists in Syria who claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks in Paris this month.

The Independent newspaper reports that only three out of 31 shadow ministers share Corbyn’s wariness of military action.

Proponents include Corbyn’s deputy, Tom Watson, and Hilary Benn, the shadow foreign secretary.

One lawmaker said that if Corbyn were to impose his view on the party, it would “destroy” Labour.

Another, Paul Flynn, said Corbyn would have to resign if he becomes a “liability” to the party while a third, John Spellar, said he should step down now.

Islamic State threat

The Labour leader is under pressure to give his members a free vote if, as expected, Prime Minister David Cameron asks the House of Commons to support airstrikes next week.

The Conservative leader made his case on Thursday, saying, “If not now, when?”

The self-declared Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a series of shootings and suicide bombings in the French capital that left more than 130 dead.

According the Cameron, their target may as well have been London.

Earlier this year, the same organization claimed responsibility for a shooting at a Tunisian beach resort that killed thirty British tourists.

Pacifists

Corbyn, who led the Stop the War Coalition against Britain’s participation in the invasion of Iraq before he was elected party leader this year, argues that the prime minister has not yet “made a convincing case” for strikes in Syria.

British jets are currently bombing Islamic State positions in Iraq at the invitation of the government in Baghdad. But they are barred from operating over Syria where the group is also active. American and French jets do fly there.

Germany — traditionally reluctant to use military force — joined the fight this week, citing a United Nations resolution passed after the Paris attacks that calls on countries to defeat the self-styled caliphate “by all means necessary.”