Chuka Umunna blasts Corbynista 'trolls'
The Labour leader has come under sustained attack over comments he has made on a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy against terrorists and the airstrike targeting ‘Jihadi John’.
There is another row brewing over the party’s stance on intervention in Syria, with dozens of MPs reportedly prepared to defy the leadership if the Government introduces a Commons vote on extending airstrikes across the Iraq-Syria border.
Mr Umunna said it was “absolutely fundamental” that MPs should be given a free vote on the issue, and he argued MPs should be given the space to reach a decision about what is best for their constituents, not local members.
“I have a point of view which I have by reference to my principles and my values and my desire to keep the people that I represent safe,” the former Shadow Business Secretary told the Today programme.
“And I’m sorry, that will come before any internal party-political issue and I think I should be able to adopt that position without being attacked, without being subject to a nasty troll-form of politics.”
Mr Umunna dismissed the Momentum group, which has previously been seen as a potential vehicle to rally support for deselecting ‘moderate’ MPs, as a “leadership fan club” for Mr Corbyn.
“If the new politics is to mean anything, people should be allowed to air their different views on different policies without being insulted, without being trolled, without being threatened with deselection by others in the party and that is unfortunately happening and we need to end that,” he added.
The Streatham MP, who now sits on the Home Affairs Committee, was particularly damning about Mr Corbyn’s statement that he was “not happy” about authorising security forces to shoot to kill terrorists on the streets of Britain.
“This goes above and beyond party politics and, dare I say it, internal party politics because if you cannot keep the people safe, in their eyes that is a disqualification from office,” Mr Umunna said.
“That is why I think it’s very important that we are clear we support the police and security services having powers to use lethal force – of course operating within the rule of law – to keep us safe at home and abroad.”
Yet another row within Labour erupted on Wednesday after it emerged Ken Livingstone had been appointed to co-chair the party’s review of defence policy.
When Kevan Jones criticised the move, Mr Livingstone struck back by telling the Shadow Defence Minister, who has publicly spoken of having suffered depression, to seek “psychiatric help”.
After uproar within the party and hours of refusing to say sorry, the former Mayor of London later apologised.
But Mr Umunna said the episode proved Mr Livingstone was unsuited to a job that had to build consensus across different parts of the party.
“That is why I think Ken is completely inappropriate to be a co-convener of our group looking at defence policy because somehow we need to resolve these differences.”