I shared some exchanges with Hilary Benn from time to time when I was Leader of the Council and we also shared a scary journey in a speeding 4×4 when he came to Oxfordshire in the floods and he was Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. I thought he was a very decent guy and a real chip off the old Viscount Stansgate block. I am therefore not in the least surprised to see his stand in the debate on UK security on Wednesday of this week. Alex Salmond is dead wrong; Wedgwood Benn would be immensely proud of his son.
It had crossed my mind that ISIL/Daesh shared many traits with Hitler’s Nazis but I think Hilary Benn is the first politician to voice the view. Here are his words: As a party, we have always been defined by our internationalism. We believe we have a responsibility one to another. We never have and we never should walk by on the other side of the road. And we are here faced by fascists. Not just their calculated brutality, but their belief that they are superior to every single one of us here tonight, and all of the people that we represent. They hold us in contempt. They hold our values in contempt. They hold our belief in tolerance and decency in contempt. They hold our democracy, the means by which we will make our decision tonight, in contempt. And what we know about fascists is that they need to be defeated. And it is why, as we have heard tonight, socialists and trade unionists and others joined the International Brigade in the 1930s to fight against Franco. It’s why this entire House stood up against Hitler and Mussolini. It is why our party has always stood up against the denial of human rights and for justice. And my view, Mr Speaker, is that we must now confront this evil. It is now time for us to do our bit in Syria. And that is why I ask my colleagues to vote for this motion tonight.
These are brave words from a politician who will find himself a target not only from Islamist fundamentalists but from lefties in and beyond the Labour Party. Indeed it seems he is already under attack from the hard left. I wish him well and I think he would make a better leader for the Labour Party and be good for the government and for the country.
I am going to start some blogs that look at some of Corbyn’s comrades. I think this could be interesting and fertile soil.