With the general election less than a month away, time is rapidly running out to pick a side.
You could never accuse Jeremy Corbyn of being bland. As a person and politician, he creates incredibly divisive opinions. You may not have a vested interest in the Labour party, or even in politics, but I’m sure you’ll have something to say about him. And after his speech at Chatham House today, I’m sure you’ll have even more to talk about – I certainly do.
I must admit I’ve always had a wary attitude towards the politician. Just look back to the train scandal (there are no seats! Cue release of pictures across the media of Corbyn walking through carriages with seats); this didn’t necessarily fill me with much confidence in anything the guy says. But then again, what politician do I wholly trust?
However, I’ve undergone a rather dramatic change of heart in the last few hours. Corbyn’s speech at the Chatham House think-tank in London today has really seeped underneath my skin and permeated my thoughts. He set out Labour’s foreign policy firmly: a ‘triple commitment’ to defence, development and diplomacy, approaching potential conflicts with political solutions rather than through military measures. However, Corbyn has almost immediately been accused of being ‘too weak and shambolic to stand up to terrorists and tyrants’ (the words of Michael Fallon, the defence secretary). But perhaps Corbyn has a point. The methods we have used time and time again are failing to work. Wasn’t the term for the First World War ‘the war to end all wars’? Some utter nonsense that was. We can’t just throw our military weight around as a solution to any disruption in the world – the pain, hurt and destruction that has impacted millions of families across the world is not due to stop anytime soon. Just look at Syria, at Iraq, at the Democratic Republic of Congo.
But that is another issue. I want to focus on the way in which Corbyn fully cemented his view of the new US president – a view that is not entirely favourable towards the president elect. ‘A Labour government will want a strong and friendly relationship with the United States. But we will not be afraid to speak our mind… Pandering to an erratic Trump administration will not deliver stability.’
It was all very Love Actually. I had a sudden vision of Hugh Grant – ‘from now onward I will be prepared to be much strong. And the President should be prepared for that.’ Cue a smiling Martine McCutcheon and a smattering of some 90s pop. Sadly Corbyn’s speech wasn’t followed by a happy myriad of Christmassy scenes. Nor did he morph into Hugh Grant permanently – he transformed back into the Labour politician that I realised I needed to stop looking at so dreamily.
I’m vehemently anti-Trump; I am totally and utterly against everything that the man stands for and the way in which he treats others, as well as the planet. The fact that such a bumbling orange buffoon has been elected to run what is seen as the most powerful nation on earth – well, that’s something I can in no way comprehend. I am sure that my values will in no way ever align with his. Last year’s Brexit referendum may not have left me with the outcome that I had hoped for, but I do know that Britain will make the most of what we are now dealing with. We are a strong and focused nation, and I’m still very proud to be British. However, we do not have to deal with the ramifications of something as hideous as having Trump as leader. So therefore we should not actively choose to associate ourselves so closely with someone so vile.
On Theresa May’s visit to the US at the beginning of the year, she hinted at the ‘special relationship’ we hold with the American state. Do we really want a special relationship with a country that is headed up by a man who I firmly believe doesn’t give a toss about women’s rights (‘grab ‘em by the pussy’), about the climate, or about the welfare state – and more about his own wealth and self-benefit? A man that wholly believes in overturning everything that Obama’s government worked so hard for – most notably Iran’s nuclear deal. A man that has just fired the director of the FBI for questionable reasons.
I think Corbyn has the right approach here. As we move into a new era of post-EU Britain, we need to pick our allies wisely. We should be making steps to strengthen our relationship with growing powers like China and India, to broaden our economic interests, and rebuild our relationships with European countries. Corbyn may have his flaws but he is certainly not the ‘petulant child’ (Paul Flynn MP, via Twitter) that Trump is.