Labor MP Who Wants to be Next UK PM Called Killing of Bin Laden a ‘Tragedy’

By Patrick Goodenough | August 31, 2015 | 10:50pm EDT
Britain’s Labor Party leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

( – Some policy positions of the anti-war socialist who aspires to be Britain’s next prime minister have long raised eyebrows, but the emergence of a video clip in which Jeremy Corbyn calls the killing of Osama bin Laden a “tragedy” is stoking fresh controversy.

With 10 days before the ballots close in the four-way contest to be the next leader of the official opposition Labor Party, Corbyn continues to enjoy a comfortable lead in opinion polls.

He does so despite negative publicity over foreign policy and security views including: appeals to engage with Hamas and Hezbollah; support for the Venezuelan and Russian regimes; and calls to withdraw from NATO and to scrap Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

At the weekend British tabloids reported on a Corbyn appearance on Iran’s state-funded Press TV, shortly after U.S. Navy SEALS killed the al-Qaeda leader in a May 2011 raid on his compound hideout in Pakistan.

Taking part in a panel discussion program, Corbyn complained that no attempt had been made to arrest bin Laden or put him on trial.

“This was an assassination attempt, and is yet another tragedy, upon a tragedy, upon a tragedy,” he said.

“The World Trade Center was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy,” he continued. “Tens of thousands of people have died. Torture has come back onto the world stage, been canonized virtually into law by Guantanamo and Bagram. Can’t we learn some lessons from this?”

Corbyn went on to wonder whether Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi would be the next assassination target.

“This will just make the world more dangerous, and worse and worse and worse,” he said. “The solution has got to be law, not war.”

Corbyn also said in the program he opposed the death penalty “under any circumstances, for anybody.”

He said President Obama had become “a Pentagon president, just like all the others,” citing the continued operation of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, and drone strikes against terrorists.

A spokesman for Corbyn told British media that the candidate was “a total opponent of al-Qaeda, all it stands for,” but the video’s emergence has drawn strong criticism from across the political spectrum.

Even beforehand, former Labor prime ministers Gordon Brown and Tony Blair had warned that a victory for the anti-establishment politician could make the party unelectable.

Blair said in an op-ed last month Corbyn at the helm could mean the “annihilation” of the party, warning that “[t]he party is walking eyes shut, arms outstretched, over the cliff’s edge to the jagged rocks below.”

And Brown in a speech cautioned Labor – alluding to Corbyn but without mentioning him by name – against taking the route of becoming “a party of permanent protest, rather than a party of government.”

Corbyn leads the polls in the race to succeed Ed Miliband, who resigned after the party’s election defeat last May. Some half a million Labor Party members across Britain are eligible to vote.

Recent research by YouGov pollsters found that Corbyn supporters among eligible voters were largely supportive of left-wing economic positions like nationalization of the railways and health service, and redistribution of wealth.

Corbyn supporters also felt more strongly than those supporting his opponents that Britain should not participate in airstrikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) jihadists.

And 51 percent of Corbyn supporters agreed with the statement that “the United States is the greatest single threat to world peace,” compared to 15, 18 and 36 respectively for supporters of his three rivals.

The three other contenders are members of parliament Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper. The latter two were both cabinet members in the Gordon Brown government, and Burnham stood unsuccessfully for the party leadership in 2010, after Brown resigned following an election defeat.

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