Letters: Labour’s civil war cannot go on

The following letters appear in the 2nd December 2015 edition of The Independent 

Independent Voices@IndyVoices
Tuesday 01 December 2015 20:11

The debate over the vote on bombing Syria quickly turned into a question of leadership

At some point in the very near future the Labour Party leadership is going to have to address the question of those opposed to almost everything Jeremy Corbyn stands for. The debate over the vote on bombing Syria quickly turned into a question of leadership. Too many in the Parliamentary Labour Party have a real problem accepting the line set out by the leader.

The Syria vote in the Commons crystallises the situation, with Jeremy apparently opening in opposition to the bombing, while shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn closes supporting the bombing. This is not a new politics, as some suggest, but a mess.

At some point, the MPs who oppose Jeremy’s leadership have to make up their mind whether to support or leave the party. Things cannot go on as they are now, with part of the PLP operating as an internal opposition to the leader, no doubt in the hope that he will be overthrown and replaced by one of their number.

This is simply not going to happen. Jeremy Corbyn won a strong mandate from the membership, which remains fully behind him – as the 70,000 who showed support over his stance on Syria proved. If a coup were executed, there would be such revulsion in the party inside and outside Parliament that it is doubtful that the new leaders would have a party left to lead.

It is time for those in the PLP to either support Jeremy Corbyn wholeheartedly or consider their own positions. If they want to join another party then go ahead; a by-election would of course have to be called in their seats. What is for sure is that the simmering civil war cannot be allowed to continue.

Paul Donovan

London E11

Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to allow a free vote on Syria confirms that Labour have a leader who is incapable of leadership.

But how could it be otherwise from a career backbencher who voted against his own party 533 times? The parliamentary party must ditch him. As a floating voter, why would I buy a ticket to sail in a rudderless ship?

Stan Labovitch


I feel sorry for the Labour MPs whose conscience leads them to back the bombing of Isis targets in Syria.

Their constituency parties, having been taken over by the hard left, will indubitably try to deselect them before the next general election. So this will be a real test of jobs versus beliefs.

My advice would be: make plans to leave before you are pushed; and form a new party.

Perhaps a good name might be “Sane Labour”?

Lyn Brooks

Ongar, Essex

Better ways to beat Isis than bombing

Dave Barker (letter, 1 December) makes the assumption that Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and the rest of us anti-bombers prefer to “sit back and do nothing”.

Isis/Daesh is thriving largely due to the funding it receives, either from oil sales or directly from individuals, allegedly from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other neighbours. I agree with Mr Barker that a way of disabling them is to stop this funding, but this does not have to be done by bombing their installations, rather by putting pressure on those who are buying the oil or donating money.

This will probably annoy our Middle Eastern “friends”, but this seems to me to be a small price to pay. Perhaps we could start by threatening to withdraw the British-made bombs that Saudi Arabia is currently using on Yemen.

Martin Heaton

Cheadle, Cheshire

Jean Calder (letter, 1 December) is almost certainly right to refer to 70,000 moderate ground-troops in Syria as Cameron’s big lie.

To justify this claim could at least one MP ask him: who decides their strategy, who is their overall commander; what is the command structure; who supplies their weaponry; is their primary objective to eliminate Isis, depose Assad, support Assad or something else?

Without credible answers to some of these questions, the Prime Minister’s case lacks any credibility.

Patrick Mill

Ryde, Isle of Wight

Two things are needed before the politicians start fantasising about air strikes on the far side of the world: a clear idea of who the enemy is; and an administration capable of publishing the long-overdue report on the last debacle.

Amanda Baker


Peaceful climate march isn’t news

I opened your paper this morning (30 November) hoping to find some mention of that section of the international Climate Change March which passed through central London.

And so I did; a few lines buried beneath a picture of French police firing tear-gas at “activists” and a caption beneath a photograph of Jeremy Corbyn and Vivienne Westwood, who had “joined campaigners”.

That’s it? That’s all The Independent has to say about the groundswell of concern and foreboding expressed by the 50,000 people on the march, representing Greenpeace, the Green Party, 38 Degrees, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam and a host of other organisations united in the wish to impress on the Paris meetings that the time is now?

What do we have to do to gain your attention? The question is rhetorical. When, last Saturday week, I and others were out in the freezing cold to drum up support for the Climate March in our suburb, one woman said she’d like to go, but was afraid of the violence that would take place. Of course there was no violence on the London march, which is presumably why the photographs from the Paris scuffle had to be imported.

Are you (the media) trying to frighten us into silence? I thought better of The Independent.

Ann Williams

London E11

Hunt must go, or he will wreck the NHS

Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, seems to be on a mission to destroy the health service.

First he derided doctors, managing to demoralise an entire workforce. Then he used an inaccurate interpretation of statistics to scare patients off attending hospital at the weekend, skewing workloads and leading to sick patients presenting later.

Then he scrapped nurses’ training bursaries without increasing their pay, which will no doubt worsen an already severe staffing crisis.

Now he has bullied doctors into calling a strike, only to decide at the 11th hour to remove his threat of contract imposition after elective work has already been cancelled, leading to thousands of clinics and operations being cancelled, messing patients and doctors about and wasting precious NHS resources, just to try to score some political points.

Surely this man cannot be the person we need if we want a successful NHS for future generations. Hunt must go and the Conservative Party must radically rethink its approach to how it treats the NHS and its workers, if we want to have an NHS for our children and grandchildren.

Jonathan Barnes

London N4

Social care lottery we can’t win

Hannah Fearn’s analogy of social care as a lottery that some will simply never win is sadly true (Voices, 27 November ).

The odds of disabled and older people benefiting from the Chancellor’s new 2 per cent council tax precept for social care rapidly diminish for those unlucky enough to live where the need for social care is higher, and council tax income is lower. The precept will contribute 2 per cent of a council’s annual budget, a drop in the ocean in the face of spiralling demand.

This is a gamble on social care which will not pay out. With an ageing population and ever-shrinking resources, the odds are stacked against us.

Rosemarie Pardington

Director of services

Leonard Cheshire Disability

London SW8

What Israel faces isn’t ‘Islamic terrorism’

Has Jack Cohen got his facts right when he claims that Israel has been dealing with “the scourge of Islamic terrorism” for a very long time (letter, 24 November)?

While admittedly viewing events from afar, my impression is that any “terror” experienced by Israel arises from the reaction of Palestinians to the occupation of their lands by Israel, the destruction of livelihoods and communities, the building of settlements, the failure to reach a political agreement.

In my view, Mr Cohen’s assertion is an attempt to put the Palestinians’ struggles against oppression on the same footing as current worldwide atrocities being committed by Isil. That is a grotesque distortion of the truth.

Tony Sims


Wrong sort of tunnel under the Pennines

An 18-mile Pennine mega-tunnel may be bad for drivers’ mental state (report, 1 December). Pity they closed the railway; that was much more relaxing.

Chris McDermott

Crewe, Cheshire

Join our new commenting forum

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

View comments