Tories are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn winning the Labour leadership contest. Two stories that have broken this morning show precisely why. Returning to the Iraq war — always a comfortable topic for Labour — Corbyn has told the Guardian he would apologise to the British people for the ‘deception’ of the war:
‘Let us say we will never again unnecessarily put our troops under fire and our country’s standing in the world at risk. Let us make it clear that Labour will never make the same mistake again, will never flout the United Nations and international law ‘
‘The endless delay on the Chilcot inquiry is wrong. But we don’t have to wait for Chilcot to know that mistakes were made and we need to make amends
“So it is past time that Labour apologised to the British people for taking them into the Iraq war on the basis of deception and to the Iraqi people for the suffering we have helped cause. Under our Labour, we will make this apology.’
‘As a party, we found ourselves in the regrettable position of being aligned with one of the worst rightwing governments in US history, even as liberal opinion in the US was questioning the headlong descent into war.
‘It has also lost Labour the votes of millions of our natural supporters, who marched and protested against the war. We turned our backs on them and many of them have either withheld their votes from us or felt disillusioned, unenthusiastic and unmotivated’
Then Channel 4 News has dug up footage from Russia Today last year, in which Corbyn appears to equate what the US military did in Fallujah to some actions by the Islamic State:
‘Yes they are brutal, yes some of what they have done is quite appalling, likewise what the Americans did in Fallujah and other places is appalling.’
In response, his campaign has released a statement: ‘Jeremy Corbyn believes the violent ideology of Isis is a vicious, repugnant force that has to be stopped’. But both of these stories add to the notion that Corbyn has a lot of baggage waiting to be unearthed and the Tories are ready and waiting to make the most of it. His statement on Iraq also explains why Corbyn is doing well in this leadership contest but would be a disaster for the party: his positions are a comfort blanket for Labour’s left but raise eyebrows in the rest of the country.