Criticism of Jeremy Corbyn’s response to Russian poisonings is misplaced - Yorkshire Post Letters
In a recent speech (The Yorkshire Post, July 24) Labour MP Yvette Cooper recalled that after the Salisbury poisonings in March 2018 “I thought that Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Leader was wrong to prevaricate over Russia’s responsibility”.
She was recalling a parliamentary debate after the poisonings, when PM Theresa May made a statement directly accusing Russia, although she had as yet no proof to back it up. Replying as Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn deplored the attack but said Britain’s response must be “decisive, proportionate and based on clear evidence”.
For his caution in a crisis he was attacked by a dozen Conservative and Labour MPs as an appeaser who “simply could not bring himself to condemn Russia”. Sixteen Labour MPs supported Theresa May’s rush to judgement: among them was Yvette Cooper, calling for “unequivocal condemnation” of Russia.
After the debate Jeremy Corbyn renewed his call to wait for firm evidence, reminding MPs that “dodgy dossiers led to the calamity of the Iraq invasion”.
This referred to the dossier that in March 2003 was used to justify war on Iraq, by alleging that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).
In a final pre-war debate MPs voted on two motions: the first was that “the case for war against Iraq has not yet been established”; the second authorised military action.
Jeremy Corbyn voted for the first motion, Yvette Cooper voted against it. It was lost. Yvette Cooper voted for the second motion, Jeremy Corbyn voted against it. It was carried, and Britain joined the US attack on Iraq. No WMDs were ever found. But about half a million Iraqis died, millions were displaced and the war’s ill effects continue today.
In August 2015, when Yvette Cooper was competing with Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour Party leadership, she said that Labour had been wrong over Iraq “because there were no WMDs”, and that she regretted voting for the war.
However today, eight years later, she still shows no regret at having prejudged the issue on another crucial matter, and is still critical of Jeremy Corbyn for refusing to do so. What a pity.