The Prime Minister’s reaction to Jeremy Corbyn’s victory shows he is nervous about the changes he could bring to British politics. The Conservative’s aggressive response has been to drag up anything the Labour leader has said in the past and distort it to discredit him before he has even begun, and they will continue to do so until he is gone.
David Cameron recently gave his headline speech at the Conservative Party Conference, and he used this platform as an opportunity to attack the newly-elected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn over comments he made about the death of Osama bin Laden. Cameron said “You only really need to know one thing: he thinks the death of Osama bin Laden was a tragedy” and “We cannot let that man inflict his security-threatening, terrorist-sympathising, Britain-hating ideology on the country we love.”
It'd be awful if people started sharing this clip of the PM saying Bin Laden's death was a tragedy with no context. https://t.co/megpWW4xUQ
— Jamie Ross (@JamieRoss7) October 8, 2015
This has another accusation about Corbyn that was preceded by attacks that he would never use a nuclear weapon, refused free tickets to watch England at the Rugby World Cup and most bizarrely that he wants an asteroid to hit the earth. Regardless of your political beliefs, or your opinion on Corbyn’s socialist ideals, it is important to be aware of what the Labour leader actually said about the death of the Al Qaeda leader in 2011:
There was no attempt whatsoever that I can see to arrest him, to put him on trial, to go through that process. This was an assassination attempt, and is yet another tragedy, upon a tragedy, upon a tragedy.
The World Trade Center was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy. Tens of thousands of people have died. Torture has come back on to the world stage, been canonised virtually into law by Guantanamo and Bagram. Can’t we learn some lessons from this? The solution has got to be law not war.
Corbyn was arguing that the lack of trial was a tragedy, not his death. He also called the attacks on September 11th a tragedy, which Cameron completely ignores. When looked at in its full context, it does not fit in to the ‘terrorist-sympathising’ narrative that the leader of the Conservatives is trying to create. Cameron must have known the full quote and has chosen to take it out of context to lie to the British public about the leader of the opposition. Whether you agree with Corbyn that an assassination was the wrong option or whether you think justice was served, the Prime Minister’s attack should be very worrying.
The Tories are incredibly good at spreading their message and narrative in the right-wing media, and if Corbyn wants to avoid the fate of Ed Miliband, the Labour Party must counter-act it straight away. The accusation that Corbyn is unpatriotic and sympathises with terrorists because he believes in the rule of law should be seen as ridiculous by all those across the political spectrum. This is especially important when the current government sells arms to Saudi Arabia, a brutal regime linked to human rights abuses and accused of funding the Islamic State. Labour has to play catch-up to a very sophisticated and strong media team.
To make Cameron’s attack on Corbyn even more absurd, the current Tory Mayor of London Boris Johnson said something similar in a Telegraph column in 2001. He argued that bin Laden should be put on trial because ‘a trial would be the profoundest and most eloquent statement of the difference between our values and his’. Corbyn’s comments have been grossly misrepresented for cheap political point-scoring while one of their own has been allowed to say the same thing.
The assassination of bin Laden should be a controversial topic, and both sides of the argument have strong cases. However, this does not excuse what David Cameron said in his speech. Spin and misquotations dominate the media strategy of the Conservative Party, and the next five years are going to be forced controversy after forced controversy. The attacks from the Conservatives and the media that Miliband faced throughout his leadership will look like a walk in the park compared to what Corbyn will have to deal with. Even if you are a staunch right-winger and a supporter of the Conservative’s policies and ideals, you should feel uneasy about the way they are conducting politics.