Angela Rayner discusses Corbyn’s reaction to Ukraine
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Paul Mason, a political commentator and former Corbyn supporter, decried the former Labour leader’s “catalogue of platitudes” that he said underplayed Russia’s role and offered no answers to stop the war. Right-leaning Labour MPs lauded the “absolutely devastating demolition” of Mr Corbyn.
Mr Mason, former culture editor for Channel 4 News, dissected the former Labour leader’s essay in support of anti-war activism in the face of the invasion of Ukraine.
Mr Corbyn has himself been an advocate for the Stop the War coalition, which has been accused of claiming the West was responsible for the war.
The coalition was at the centre of political wrangling within Labour, when Sir Keir Starmer threatened to withdraw the whip on eleven MPs who had signed a Stop the War statement.
In February, the coalition had stated: “Stop the War opposes any war over Ukraine, and believes the crisis should be settled on a basis which recognises the right of the Ukrainian people to self-determination and addresses Russia’s security concerns.”
Mason decried the former Labour leader’s ‘catalogue of platitudes’ on Ukraine (Image: Getty)
Signatories included former shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and former shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott – both long-term Corbyn allies.
The statement was viewed as controversial for its validation of Russia’s “security concerns” against a nation that had not made any military moves towards Russia before being invaded.
Writing in the Guardian, the current Labour leader said the Stop the War coalition was “not benign voices for peace.
“At best they are naïve, at worst they actively give succour to authoritarian leaders who directly threaten democracies.”
All eleven MPs withdrew their signatures and Mr McDonnell and Ms Abbott reportedly later pulled out of a rally in London.
However, Corbyn openly defended the coalition in a recent essay, stating Sir Keir believed Stop the War was a “Russian stooge”.
Mason said the MP for Islington North was accusing politicians of ‘advocating war against Russia’ (Image: Getty)
He replied: “There is no evidence that they’ve done anything other than stand up for peace around the world. In my own case, there’s a record of doing so going back as long as your arm, both in the Soviet Union and in post-Soviet Russia.”
In one passage, Mr Corbyn explains: “We have to apply political pressure on Russia and support the public pressure that’s there in Russia to end this war and to withdraw the Russian forces.
“And we should go back to the original agreements relating to Ukraine that were made in the Budapest and the later Minsk agreement, which was designed to bring about a long-term ceasefire.
“All wars end with a political solution. All wars end with dialogue. Why don’t we cut out the fighting zone and go straight into the talking zone?”
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The Stop the War coalition was ‘not benign voices for peace’ (Image: Getty)
Mr Mason asked how Western governments might put “political pressure” on Russia if not sanctions, a tool which Stop the War has previously indicated it was against.
Mr Mason also claimed that Stop the War had only joined “its own, desultory march” against the war in Ukraine.
Writing in the Jacobin magazine, Mr Corbyn goes on to say that it is “very easy for a politician in any parliament in the West to get up and say, ‘Go to war, go to war, go to war.’
“It’s always easy to vote for somebody else’s children to go to war and die. When a war takes place, there’s always a desire by the opposing sides to make sure it’s only their line and their story that gets out.”
Mr Mason said the MP for Islington North was accusing politicians of “advocating war against Russia”.
He continued: “A few Tories have done – but no Western government has done. None. Nor has NATO. They’re actively avoiding it by using sanctions – that [Jeremy Corbyn] opposes…”
Signatories included former shadow Chancellor McDonnell and former shadow Home Secretary Abbott (Image: Getty)
The political commentator added: “Again, no western Government, the EU or NATO is proposing to ‘attack Russia’. If they were, I’d be against them.
“Russian state media is carrying continuous calls to attack the West with nuclear weapons… no mention of that.
“And honestly, for a frontline politician to say ‘get peace to get Russian forces out of Ukraine’ – without specifying the terms on which peace should be made is just waffle: a sixth form politics essay would fail.”
Mr Mason also noted Mr Corbyn’s reference to “that awful event in Salisbury”, suggesting he “still can’t bring himself to actually say ‘the Russian chemical weapons attack in Salisbury’”.
Mr Mason concluded: “So let’s be clear what this article is doing. There’s nothing massively objectionable amid the platitudes.
“It’s a genuinely-held position of irrelevance, but its function is to defend a bunch of genocide deniers and Putin proxies.”
Reacting to Mr Mason’s critique, Mike Gapes, a former Labour and Change UK MP, called it an “absolutely devastating demolition of Corbyn by a former cheerleader and supporter”.
Chris Bryant, the Labour MP for Rhondda in Wales, said it was “excellent and quite right”.
Stop the War and Jeremy Corbyn have been contacted for comment.