UK Politics

Jeremy Corbyn defends Stop the War Coalition

Jeremy Corbyn

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has defended the Stop the War Coalition, following calls for him not to attend a fundraiser for the group this Friday.

It comes after Labour MP Tristram Hunt called on Mr Corbyn to "step back" from the anti-war group, saying it is a "disreputable organisation".

Mr Corbyn said people who oppose war "shouldn't be condemned or denigrated".

Asked by the BBC if he would still be going to the event, he said: "I'll attend all the things on my diary."

'A good thing'

Mr Corbyn's defence of the Stop the War Coalition, of which he was chairman until recently, came at an event in Paris on Monday evening.

He said the organisation had "consistently said we need foreign policy that brings about political solutions to desperately complicated problems, which is why last week I voted against the deployment of British forces into Syria".

"Not because I'm any sympathiser for Isil or any of the other groups in area", he said, "but because I want to see a speeded-up political process through the Vienna conference".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Stop the War staged a protest outside Parliament on the night of the Syria air strikes vote

Mr Corbyn added: "People in the country that oppose wars and want to see a peaceful future shouldn't be condemned or denigrated.

"They should be recognised as people who are giving up a large proportion of their lives in a totally peaceful and democratic way to bring about a different form of foreign policy in our country.

"That's surely a good thing in an open and participative liberal democracy?"

'Irresponsible'

Stop the War Coalition has staged a number of protests in the constituencies of Labour MPs who backed action in Syria, including shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn.

On Sunday, Tristram Hunt, Labour's former shadow education secretary who voted for air strikes, called on Mr Corbyn to distance himself from anti-war group, which is one of the leading opponents of military action in Syria.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionAnti-war group 'disreputable' says Labour MP

He accused them of making a series of "ugly comments" since the vote on air strikes and said they had been "very irresponsible with their language and activities".

"I think they're a really disreputable organisation and I would hope Jeremy would step back and not go to their fundraiser," he said.

Stop the War's convenor Lindsey German rejected Mr Hunt's attacks as "unfounded and unjustified". Defending the group's action, she said it was entitled to engage in peaceful protests and would continue to do so.

More on this story