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Ian Murray hits out at Richard Burgon's 'fantasy' plan to let Labour members veto military action

Ian Murray hits out at Richard Burgon's 'fantasy' plan to let Labour members veto military action
3 min read

Ian Murray has hit out at Labour deputy leadership rival Richard Burgon's "fantasy" plan to let the party's members decide whether or not it should back military action.

Mr Burgon said his "peace pledge" would prevent Labour ever signing up to ill-fated military campaigns like the Iraq War again.

Under the policy, the Shadow Justice Secretary said Labour "would not endorse, or back, or support military action, unless the members gave it their explicit approval".

"Never again should Labour members have the shame of having to protest 'Not in my name' against their own party," he said.

"With this pledge in place, the British people can be confident that the Labour Party will not repeat the mistakes of the past and wrongly back military conflict."

But Mr Murray, who is battling with Mr Burgon to win a place in the final round of the deputy leadership contest, said it was "a reckless proposal that will do nothing to regain the trust of the public".

He said: "Part of the reason we lost the last two elections is because people didn’t trust our leadership when it came to national security – this is the worst possible way to address that problem.

"I am the only candidate in this contest who recognises that Labour must change to become a credible alternative government. And if we are to be a credible government, we have to accept that decisions on military action are key decisions for government ministers to take, in possession of full information which will rightly not always be in the public domain.

"Ministers should always be held accountable for those decisions by Parliament, but it is a folly to offload decisions on national security to members of a political party, who by their very nature will not have all the facts before them - or be able to respond in the time needed.

"This is pandering to a view of how a fantasy government would run, and would simply ensure that Labour remains in permanent opposition."

Labour leadership hopeful Lisa Nandy also joined in the criticism, saying: "At times in our history there have been moments when we have had to stand up and go to protect people all over the world.

"In Sierra Leone and Rwanda, those people couldn’t wait for us to go and ballot Labour Party members."

But a defiant Mr Burgon hit back at his critics, tweeting: "Apparently it's dumb to think that members of a political party should get to choose whether their own party supports military action proposed by the government. What certain responses to this policy show is the contempt some have for ordinary people to shape their own lives."

He also received the backing of Jeremy Corbyn, who told him in a video posted on Twitter: "I do think it's important that our party is seen to be a party of peace, a party of human rights and a party of social justice around the world.

"And so I do think consultation and democracy within our party is absolutely part of that. And your proposals, I think, have a lot of merit in them."

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