Path to peace is cup of tea with Isil, says Corbyn ally
Labour adviser accused of ‘grotesque’ naivety for suggesting chats are more effective than air strikes
Britain would be safer if it was to have “cups of tea” with Isil terrorists, one of Jeremy Corbyn’s allies has said. The comment, by Christine Shawcroft, who sits on Labour’s National Executive Committee and is a senior figure in Momentum, has been dismissed as naive by Labour moderates.
BRITAIN would be safer if its defence policy was to have “cups of tea” with Isil terrorists rather than bomb them, one of Jeremy Corbyn’s key allies has said. Christine Shawcroft, who sits on Labour’s National Executive Committee and is a senior figure in Momentum, said that soldiers should “get the teabags out” to solve the Syrian crisis rather than resorting to air strikes.
She claimed the tactic had worked on some far-Right English Defence League supporters and added: “Cups of tea might actually be the best system of defence and national security you could have.” Leading Labour moderates dismissed the comment as “grotesque in its naivety” and urged party members to kick Ms Shawcroft off the NEC when she faces re-election later this year.
Ms Shawcroft said the comments had been “jocular”, but added that “there is a serious point” about the failure of bombing to bring about peace.
It is the latest in a string of comments about defence from Mr Corbyn and senior figures on the party’s Left that moderates fear are putting Labour out of step with the electorate.
Before becoming leader, Mr Corbyn had suggested allowing voters to opt out of paying taxes to fund the Army and called the assassination of Osama bin Laden a “tragedy” because he was not brought to justice in the courts.
Mr Corbyn’s opposition to the air strikes in Syria against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant last year split his party, with a dozen of his shadow cabinet voting for military action.
Speaking at a London Labour Left meeting at the University of London on Feb 23, Ms Shawcroft defended Mr Corbyn’s stance on Syria. She warned that media stories about Mr Corbyn’s noninterventionism were having a nega- tive impact and imagined a voter saying: “That Jeremy Corbyn, you know, faced with terrorists he’d sit down and have a cup of tea with them.”
Ms Shawcroft went on: “Now I mean, you know, maybe we should try it!
“You know, I did read a while ago about when the EDL were going round picketing outside mosques. One mosque in the Midlands just opened the doors and said would you like to come in for a cup of tea?
“And they went in and now they’re friends. The EDL are now like oh, well actually these people are not the monsters that we’re being told all this time, they’re human beings you can sit down and have a cup of tea with.”
Ms Shawcroft was suspended from Labour’s ruling body after defending Lutfur Rahman, the extremist-linked former mayor of Tower Hamlets who was removed from office for corruption and electoral fraud, but later reinstated.
Ms Shawcroft said: “Clearly these are jocular comments. They weren’t taken at face value at the meeting and should not be read at face value now.”