Britain is holding a snap election on the 8th of June to determine who is going to be the next prime minister. During the campaigning period, all party leaders have (to greater and lesser extents) taken part in televised question and answer sessions with the British public. That’s what the BBC Question Time special last night was all about: current prime minister Theresa May and the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn both spent 45 minutes answering questions from the British public.
What struck me about the debate is that the two biggest areas the Corbyn was challenged on were not his plans to nationalise the railways, there was just one question on scrapping zero hour contracts, no one seemed to care about his vision for social care or the NHS. What people did want to know is why he won’t outrightly condemn the IRA and why he won’t commit to sending off nukes to blow up people if ‘we had to’.
The thing about Jeremy Corbyn is … he’s a nice guy. He has been campaigning for peace for decades and he is clearly against nuclear weapons. This should not come as a surprise. His party won’t let him get rid of the weapons, but obviously, he doesn’t want to use them to blow up entire regions and murder people. Our nuclear weapons are there as a deterrent so I can see why it’s a little alarming that Jezebel won’t even make it look like he would use them if he had to, but he never outright said he wouldn’t use them either. He said he wouldn’t just send them off without weighing up the situation and trying other options. Is that really so bad?
The other thing that always seems quite popular is Jeremy Corbyn’s supposed links to the IRA. He did meet with members of the IRA, as did many other members of parliament, in an attempt to create a ceasefire. People also think he supports the IRA because he spoke at a remembrance ceremony for them and because he refuses to condemn them without also condemning the violence of rival groups.
History is complicated. It isn’t always as simple as saying these were the good guys and these were the evil people. Both sides normally do terrible things and neither side is ever blameless. Acknowledging that the situation with Ireland was complicated and that deaths on both sides should be mourned isn’t the same as advocating terrorist attacks. I’m really not sure why this and nothing else seems to bother people so much.
This leads me onto my next and main point. Britain currently sells weapons to Saudi Arabia. We know this. We also know that Saudi Arabia uses those weapons in ways which most probably violate international law. We know that those weapons were used on civilians in Yemen, and there is pretty strong evidence to suggest that some of those weapons are also going to ISIS in Syria. So it just seems a bit crazy that we are so quick to jump on Jeremy Corbyn over not wanting to celebrate people dying during the troubles but we have no moral qualms about selling weapons to a country which uses them in violation of human rights and often violates the human rights of people within its own country.
Things are complicated, and I am not suggesting that the U.K should break their ties with Saudi Arabia. I just want to highlight the hypocrisy in condemning Corbyn for his ‘friendliness’ towards terrorists whilst we just ignore things like this. Judge them on their policies and their record and their actions. But if you want to judge one of them for ‘leasing with terrorists’ then take a closer look at what is actually going on before you let that be the deciding factor.
I wrote an article about this topic in more depth. If you would like to read it please go to: https://evonews.com/world-news/2017/jun/03/opinion-the-bbc-question-time-debate-theresa-may-jeremy-corbyn-and-saudi-arabia/