I get the routine. Everyone out there who is any way moderate should back Owen Smith over Corbyn. Just look the other way when Smith says something silly; when he comes across as “Corbyn if Corbyn had any respect for parliamentary democracy whatsoever” and nothing more; but there is a line in the sand and Owen Smith crossed it yesterday for me.
Here’s the relevant quote:
“My view is that, ultimately, all solutions to these international crises do come about through dialogue, so eventually if we are to try to solve this all of the actors do need to be involved. But at the moment Isil are clearly not interested in negotiating. At some point for us to resolve this, we will need to get people round the table.”
Okay, look, here’s the deal – ISIS cannot be negotiated with. I’m all for dialogue and particularly dialogue before shooting, but there are limits to this. Beyond the fact that ISIS is a murderous death cult bent on creating a warped version of the ancient caliphates, let’s look at Smith’s proposition from a purely logistical angle. In international diplomacy terms, if you invite certain actors to a round of peace talks you have then legitimised that group. You have also set out a situation in which there will be some form of compromise with that group – and more importantly, that said group will get something out of the negotiation. That’s the whole point of negotiating – that all sides will hopefully come to a peaceful and lasting arrangement based on mutual obtainment of certain goals. Therefore, Owen Smith is basically saying that there is a set of circumstances in which we’d all be fine with ISIS governing some part of the Middle East, however small, so long as they stayed on their own, now internationally recognised patch.
Is this really what the Left has come to? When we think such a thing as allowing a medieval horror show that throws people off of buildings to have an international recognised right to govern a country – any country? More importantly, that sanctioning the creation of a country just for them to rule on the basis of some sort of least bad case scenario is throwing in the towel on a better world for the foreseeable future?
I would still urge you to vote for Owen Smith over Jeremy Corbyn if you have a right to vote in the up coming Labour leadership contest. This is the one time when saying that I would vote for a rubbish bin over a particular candidate can be taken completely literally (at least you could get the rubbish bin to step down when it wasn’t an effective leader of the opposition). But man, Owen Smith makes himself hard to like sometimes.