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Jeremy Corbyn says he’s not going to war with his critics. But are they going to war with him?

11 January 2016

10:14 AM

11 January 2016

10:14 AM

Jeremy Corbyn’s Today interview was a reasonably good stint for the leader after a bad week. He had clearly worked out better ways of talking about terrorism that make him sound reasonable – although he deliberately left in tell-tale references to what he thinks of the West. While he refused to say whether or not he would back a drone strike against the new British jihadi militant revealed in an Isis video last week, he also told the programme that France was no more responsible than any other Western government for terror attacks:

‘Of course the French government are not responsible for the attacks on the streets of Paris any more than any other government was from the West. But I would just say, listen very carefully to the analysis that President Obama gave of the situation in the Middle East when he said we’ve got to think long and hard about the longer-term effects of both the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq about what that does.’

The Labour leader was not in a particularly combative mood this morning, and didn’t make the same digs that he has done at his fellow Labour MPs previously, such as suggesting that the parliamentary Labour party isn’t as important as it might think. Instead, he said sort of the same thing, but in a more positive way, which was that he wants members more involved in policy debate:

‘It’s not up to me to decide how the voting’s done within the party, that’s for the National Executive to do. [I will] obviously make a contribution to this – first of all let’s get the discussion out there, debate out there so that party members, trade unions, affiliates and all the many, many peace organisations, thinktanks and everybody else can put forward a point of view.

‘I want members to have a big say in it, whether that comes as a vote of individual members or a vote at conference, that will be decided, I haven’t made up my mind.’

The Labour leader denied that he is ‘going to war’ with his critics in his party. But his reshuffle was clearly designed – understandably, from Corbyn’s point of view – to make him stronger against those he disagrees with. Tonight we will see what sort of war his critics want to wage with their leader, if he attends the traditional start of term meeting of the parliamentary Labour party. Many of his Shadow Cabinet members have spent the weekend setting out their positions on issues such as Trident, but with MPs such as Alison McGovern pushing back furiously against criticisms of Progress, there is a clear sense in the PLP that it’s time to start standing up to the Corbynites before they get their own way on everything.

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