Daily catch-up: Corbyn is 'not sure' if he is a pacifist but knows he is never wrong

And George Osborne is certainly not the One Nation social-justice progressive he pretended to be

My best estimate of how MPs would vote if there is a vote on Wednesday on extending air strikes against Isis into Syria. I am assuming that Labour MPs would be allowed a free vote, because I do not see how Jeremy Corbyn could impose a whip against action. Thanks to Henrik Pettersson for his superb graphic for The Independent on Sunday.

The Labour leader was calm and persuasive in making his case on the Andrew Marr show yesterday. But Marr pressed him: "It does sound to me like you’re against bombing under all circumstances. Are you a pacifist, would you describe yourself as a pacifist?"

Corbyn replied: "No, I wouldn’t describe myself as a pacifist, but I would describe an act of violence, an act of war, as absolutely a very last resort."

That is not the answer he gave to the same question in an interview with the Christian magazine Third Way during the Labour leadership election (on or before 10 July).

Q. Are you actually a pacifist?

I would always try to bring about a peaceful solution to any conflict, and so I opposed the Gulf War in 1991 and, obviously, [the invasions of] Afghanistan and Iraq. To say I was a pacifist would be very absolutist.

Q. If you had been of your parents' generation, would you have applauded the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War?

My dad wanted to join the International Brigade, but his health wouldn't allow it. Would I have supported it? You can't translate yourself into a different period; but had the rest of the world properly recognised and supported the Republican government in Spain, would the Second World War have happened? We'll never know. I do have respect for those people that were conscientious objectors in the war. Does that make me a pacifist? I can't really answer that. I'm not sure.

What I find even more surprising about that answer is that he respects conscientious objectors to the Second World War, without saying that he recognises that it was a just war.

Later on in the interview he was asked:

Q. Looking back, are there major positions you've taken that you think have proved wrong?

Proved wrong? I don't think so.

He then launches into an anecdote about the time there were "just the three of us", "Tony Benn, Nelson Mandela and me sitting round a table having a chat", after the other MPs at the event had gone away "because they'd got other things to do".

On the day, I thought George Osborne's Autumn Statement might make it hard for egalitarian social democrats to oppose the Conservative Government. If he is not going to cut tax credits for the working poor, there is not much in this One Nation Government with which we disagree. It was obvious, however, that the Autumn Statement still took more from the poor than the rich, because the Chancellor did not claim otherwise. But we had to wait until the Institute for Fiscal Studies published its analysis the next day to find out how much. It turned out, as I wrote here on Friday, that the plan is still to take just as much from the working poor after four years, while protecting existing claimants. My article for The Independent on Sunday is devoted to the subject.

And finally, thanks as ever to Moose Allain, for this:‏

"My shirt's tucked into my trousers. I should feed it more often."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in