Written by Max Bettridge
This week, Labour leadership front runner Jeremy Corbyn has made the perhaps not so outlandish claim that former Labour Prime Minister and master communicator, Tony Blair, should face trial over the ‘illegal’ Iraq War on the charge of war crimes.
Speaking to BBC Newsnight, the Labour MP for Islington North revealed that he was ‘confident’ that the Iraq War – which still to this day tarnishes Blair’s time in Number 10 – was an illegal war, and as such Blair must stand trial for war crimes and, as Corbyn continues to reveal, ‘there are some decisions Tony Blair has got to confess’.
Corbyn had been famously against the Iraq War and spoke at dozens of anti-war rallies in both home and abroad, he also played a key role in organising one of the biggest political protests in British History against the Iraq War in February 2003.
The fact that Jeremy Corbyn believes, like a vast majority of the British public do, that Tony Blair is a war criminal and deserves to at least stand trial because of this, will only do wonders for his growing popularity among many Labour voters. Luna Webster illustrated this humourlessly while writing about Blair in an article highlighting Labour’s need to actually become an opposition: ‘why is he[Blair] not like, in prison or something’. This demonstrates that we – the public – aren’t quite sure how Tony Blair is still a free man, so it is almost music to our collective ears to hear possibly the future Labour leader (and by that same logic, potentially a future Prime Minister) openly speak about an issue which has almost literally been swept under the carpet (the fact that the Chilcot Inquiry is still not out is surely evidence of this).
Despite right wing media outlets such as the Daily Telegraph trying to shamelessly persuade members of the public to temporarily become Labour members to elect Corbyn and ‘doom’ the Labour Party, Corbyn has become the forerunner not because of some hair brained scheme by those pesky kids inside the Telegraph. He has become popular because people can relate to and understand what he is saying. His brave stance against Blair – one that he has always held it should be noted – is just further evidence of Corbyn actually saying something that many members of the public actually think and agree with.
Corbyn does not play the at times ludicrous Westminster games, he rarely holds back and speaks his mind. He proved this in a joint hustings with the other leadership candidates on LBC. When asked whether, as leader, any of the candidates would have their former leader Ed Miliband in their Shadow Cabinet, Kendall tried to half-heartedly answer the question by suggesting new faces in her potential cabinet, while Cooper and Burnham both gave the classic politician jargon of ‘refusing to speculate’. Only Corbyn was willing to give a straight answer which was yes, Ed Miliband would have a place on his Shadow Cabinet. This lead to their host Iain Dale claiming, ‘this is exactly why Jeremy Corbyn is shown in this times poll as way ahead of the rest of you.’
If Corbyn doesn’t become the next Labour leader, which I outlined in a previous article as most likely being the case, he has at least proved himself to be of a different breed to the current crop of politicians in that he actually seems to speak freely and in a way that enthuses many sections of the electorate.