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

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Ben Ri­ley-Smith PO­LIT­I­CAL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

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.”

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