Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for a "different approach" to foreign policy saying that cooperation with the UN is not a 'cop out' in the battle with Islamic extremists Islamic State (IS). The newly-appointed leader warned of stepping into another "disastrous war" while addressing the South West Labour regional conference in Bristol today (21 November).
Corbyn had originally planned to give his wide-ranging speech a week ago, but delayed because of the horrendous attacks on the streets of Paris on 13 November. He said that the UK "must not keep making the same mistakes" as British PM David Cameron seeks to gain support for UK air strikes against IS.
"For the past 14 years, Britain has been at the centre of a succession of disastrous wars that have brought devastation to large parts of the wider Middle East," said Corbyn. "They have increased, not diminished, the threats to our own national security.
"The experience of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya has convinced many of our own people that the elite's enthusiasm for endless military interventions has only multiplied the threats to us – while leaving death and destabilisation in their wake. Engagement, dialogue and negotiation through the UN isn't a cop-out.
"We do need a different approach to foreign policy that puts people's lives justice and security first. Our experience of 14 years of foreign wars has driven that home. That human rights are better protected through solidarity and unity with a universally accepted body as such as the UN rather than, what we have often done, arming dictatorships and pursuing unilateral military force."
Air strike case 'stronger'
David Cameron told the UK parliament this week that the Paris attacks made the case for British military action in Syria stronger, and could be enacted legally without the UN. And Corbyn was said to have been questioned by Labour MPs last week about his initial reluctance to support a shoot-to-kill policy concerning terrorists.
During today's speech, Corbyn addressed Conservative accusations that his anti-war stance in the Middle East makes him unpatriotic.
"What's pro-British about a government that slashes support for serving soldiers and military veterans?" he said. "How is it patriotic to take money from the poorest, from working families, and hand control of your country to a super-rich elite? Labour will take no lectures in patriotism from the Conservatives."
He also added that Labour would take every measure to protect the UK. There is no date when a parliamentary vote on Syrian air strikes could take place.
During his speech to party members he also touched upon Labour plans to bring the railways back into public ownership and criticised plans for police cuts.