Why is it so hard for Jeremy Corbyn to say that the police should kill terrorists in the process of committing a massacre?
Sensing the storm that was about to break over the Labour Party following his catastrophically weak response to a simple question on the merits of shooting terrorists in the act of attacking innocent civilians, Jeremy Corbyn reluctantly scrambled to contain the damage.
Yesterday, on Corbyn’s Facebook page, the Labour leader took the opportunity to scold everyone for supposedly misinterpreting his remarks:
I am therefore disappointed that comments I made yesterday in regard to a “shoot to kill” policy have been taken out of context [..]
Nonetheless, I would like to clarify my position. As we have seen in the recent past, there are clear dangers to us all in any kind of shoot to kill policy. And we must ensure that terrorist attacks are not used to undermine the very freedoms and legal protections we are determined to defend.
But of course I support the use of whatever proportionate and strictly necessary force is required to save life in response to attacks of the kind we saw in Paris.
Here, Corbyn is trying to pull off a classic bait-and-switch. Yes, of course we must ensure that terrorist attacks are not exploited as an excuse to clamp down further on already-threatened civil liberties – this blog has consistently said the same thing, and did so again following the Paris attacks.
But that’s a side issue. People were not angry with Corbyn because he was taking a plucky stance in defence of civil liberties, they were simply incredulous that the Leader of the Opposition – when presented with a golden plated opportunity to come out on the side of human decency and rebut some of the criticism that he is soft on terror – point blank refused to countenance the shooting of armed terrorist gunmen actively engaged in committing a massacre.
Even in his so-called clarification, Jeremy Corbyn remains unable to force the words “kill” and “terrorist” from his lips in the same sentence, giving only the bland statement that he supports “proportionate and strictly necessary force”. This might be sufficient coming from another politician, but the trouble is that in Corbyn’s case, the public strongly suspects that his idea of a “proportionate and necessary” response to a terrorist massacre might mean sitting down with a cup of tea and talking about our feelings rather than eliminating a clear and present threat to the British public.
Look: nobody expects Jeremy Corbyn to be the man in the SWAT flak jacket kicking down doors, throwing flash-bang grenades and pulling the trigger in these situations. If Corbyn wants to follow his absolutist pacifism in his own private life, that’s fine. But it is not okay for the Leader of the Opposition, the holder of an important official constitutional position in our national life, to take such a fundamentalist stance when the security of our country and our citizens is at stake.
When the man seeking to become Britain’s next prime minister can’t even bring himself to utter the words “kill” and “terrorist” in the same sentence, it naturally raises questions as to what possible group of people – which vitally important constituent base – he is desperate to avoid offending by giving a more full-throated response. And as this blog noted yesterday, sadly there is only one plausible answer: the people Corbyn is unwilling to offend, is even willing to take a political hit in order to avoid offending, are those people who think that maybe Paris and the West had it coming on Friday the thirteenth.
But even putting this distasteful fact aside, Corbyn needs to learn that not every crisis or event needs to be a teaching moment for the British people in the ways of pacifism and non-violence. When Laura Kuenssberg asked Jeremy Corbyn yesterday if he would be happy for the police to take down an active terrorist, the answer should have been a simple “yes, of course”. Case closed.
But instead, the Labour leader – and the army of online Corbyn fanboys and fangirls blindly backing him up – decided instead to quibble sanctimoniously about whether “happy” was the right choice of word, bring up misleading comparisons like the mistaken shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes when no terrorist attack was underway, and generally refute the premise of the question.
That’s the kind of behaviour that would just about be tolerable from a smarmy sixth-former. It’s the kind of behaviour that has become eye-rollingly predictable from a far-left backbencher. But it is most definitely not the kind of behaviour acceptable from somebody who plans to stand before the British people and ask them to make him prime minister.
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