“You can’t keep people safe on the cheap” – Corbyn’s speech after London Bridge attack

Jeremy Corbyn

Below is the full text of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech in York following the terror attack in London Bridge.

This is the third time during a general election campaign that we have witnessed a horrific terrorist attack on the people of our country and, it seems clear, on our democratic process itself.

My heart goes out to the families and friends of those who lost their lives in such an appalling act of terror, to the injured and to all those in shock at what they witnessed on London Bridge on Friday.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to our emergency services – to the incredibly brave police officers who put their own lives on the line to save others and to all our emergency service workers, ambulance crews and fire and rescue teams involved in responding to the incident.

And again, we saw extraordinary bravery from members of the public who ran towards the attacker and put themselves in harm’s way to stop him doing harm to others. You are an example to us all and we all give you our very deepest thanks.

At times like this we all feel hurt by this appalling crime. And we feel anger, that it was carried out on our streets, in the heart of our community.

I had a personal experience of this in the attack in Finsbury Park two years ago and how our local community came together.

When we learn of the distress of others, we cannot help but share a fraction of their pain. And those individual strands of compassion become the ties that connect us one to another.

It is now, more than ever, that we must come together in our communities. That is solidarity and it is central to everything we believe.

In the aftermath of an outrage such as we saw on Friday, people have a right to know from political leaders what steps they will take to ensure public safety. I will always do whatever is necessary and effective to keep our people safe.

First of all, the police who put themselves on the line to protect us will have the authority to use whatever force is necessary to protect and save life. If police believe an attacker is wearing a suicide vest and innocent lives are at risk, then it’s right they are able to use lethal force.

No government can prevent every attack. No one would believe any political leader who said they could. But the government can act to make such acts of terror less rather than more likely.

It is our duty to look calmly and seriously at what we need to do to give people real security. Our public services are the glue that binds our society together. Community policing, the probation service, mental health, youth and social services, all play a vital part.

When those public services are cut back, as they have been during the past decade, they leave behind gaps. That can lead to missed chances to intervene in the lives of people who go on to commit inexcusable acts, whether it’s during their childhood, their first brush with the law, their first conviction or in prison through rehabilitation programmes.

Take the probation service, part-privatised in 2014, resulting in disaster. The most serious cases stayed in a justice system badly undermined by austerity cuts. A failure to recruit has left huge staffing shortfalls, with staff supervising more cases than ever expected, posing a serious risk to our security.

You can’t keep people safe on the cheap. Real security doesn’t only come from strong laws and intelligence, it comes also from effective public services that have the funding they need.

Real security demands more than the correct operational decisions by trained and properly funded professionals. It requires political leadership as well.

For far too long, our country’s leaders have made the wrong calls on our security. Their mistakes in no way absolve terrorists of blame for their murderous actions.

The blame lies with the terrorists, their funders and recruiters. But if we are to protect people, we must be honest about what threatens our security.

The threat of terrorism cannot and should not be reduced to questions of foreign policy alone. But too often the actions of successive governments have fuelled, not reduced that threat.

16 years ago, I warned against the invasion and occupation of Iraq. I said it would set off a spiral of conflict, hate, misery, desperation that will fuel the wars, the conflict, the terrorism and the misery of future generations.

It did, and we are still living with the consequences today. I was also one of the few in parliament who warned against the NATO-led intervention in Libya in 2011.

Britain should not have joined that conflict which has created a vast ungoverned space, contributed to misery in the region and made us less safe at home.

The war on terror has manifestly failed.

Britain’s repeated military interventions in North Africa and the wider Middle East, including Afghanistan, have exacerbated rather than resolved the problems.

Now we risk being dragged into a further conflict with Iran on the side of a Saudi regime which is an enemy of human rights prolonging a desperate humanitarian crisis in Yemen, interfering in its neighbours’ affairs and murdering journalists.

This policy has not made us one bit safer – if anything, it has made us less safe.

Labour will stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen and work to end the war there, not actively support it as the Conservative government has done. And we will press for action to end human rights abuses in both Saudi Arabia and Iran.

We will also support the UN Human Rights Binding Treaty to enforce accountability for human rights abuses perpetrated by corporations all around the world.

Real security requires calmly making the right calls at moments of high pressure, often against the grain of conventional wisdom.

That requires the courage and strength to chart an independent course when we think our friends and allies are doing the wrong thing.

It is time for Britain to stop clinging on to Donald Trump’s coat-tails. Boris Johnson has been the world’s leading sycophant towards the US President.

From climate change denial to unconditional support for the Israeli far right, from racism to confrontation with China, Trump is taking the world on a dangerous path.

Britain must make its own foreign policy free from a knee-jerk subservience to a US administration which repudiates our values.

And neither should we ignore evidence of Russian oligarchs and their money being used to try and buy influence in our politics.

So I ask Boris Johnson today, in what I hope will be one of his final acts as Prime Minister, to release the report we know has been cleared by the security services. What has he got to hide?

And it is the Conservatives who still refuse to release the report into Saudi funding of extremist groups in Britain.

Given Friday’s events and the continuing terror threat, it is simply unacceptable that this report is not in the public domain.

Under Labour, Britain will have its own voice in the world… standing tall for security, peace and justice. That’s the path to real security.

Our foreign policy will be defined by our commitment to human rights, international justice and peace – not enthusiasm for foreign wars that fuel, rather than combat, terrorism and insecurity.

We will introduce a War Powers Bill to ensure that no prime minister can bypass democracy when taking our country to war.

As things stand, the Prime Minister has the power to launch military action without consulting parliament.

I will be a very different kind of Prime Minister: one who is prepared to limit my own power in the public interest and empower parliament to hold government to account.

Of course our relationship with Europe – and the need to bring to an end three years of Tory failure over Brexit, and get Brexit sorted by giving people the final say on a good deal – will continue to be at the heart of Labour’s foreign policy and new internationalism.

That includes a strong role in the Council of Europe – the only international body which includes the whole of Europe, including Russia – as the custodian of the European Convention and Court of Human Rights.

We are determined to work at the heart of the United Nations and the Commonwealth to promote conflict resolution, women’s rights and human rights, and that means building support for democratic reform in the UN in particular.

And in NATO, we will work for the alliance to reduce tensions in Europe and beyond. That should be the focus of this week’s NATO summit in London. President Macron is right to press the case for a change of direction in NATO policy, including the need to de-escalate conflict with Russia and a wider perspective on the most serious threats to our common security.

And a Labour government will actively lead multilateral efforts as part of our obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to work for nuclear disarmament and a nuclear-free world.

The threats to global security in the 21st century, including the climate and environmental crisis and the conflicts it can trigger, as well as the huge scale of global inequality, which means 26 billionaires now own as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population. And the movements of people across the world, with more refugees and displaced people than at any time since the Second World War, demand a new response.

There are now 65 million refugees around the world, stretching from the shores of Europe to Bangladesh, where Rohingya people have sought safety from persecution in Myanmar, and the huge refugee flows driven by poverty and inequality in Latin America.

I look forward to hosting next year’s UN climate conference in Britain, where we will lead the campaign to go much further than the Paris accord. At the moment, Britain is not set to meet its targets until 2099, and the rest of the world even later. We have to act now, which is why our manifesto puts the Green Industrial Revolution at its heart.

To help settle conflict and promote human rights, in our trade and aid policy as well as foreign policy, and deliver ambitious global climate agreements, Labour’s new internationalism means we will create a peace and conflict-prevention fund, and invest an extra £400m to expand our diplomatic capacity and increase oversight of arms exports to ensure we’re not fuelling conflicts, as in Yemen and in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Labour stands behind the international consensus of a genuine two-state solution – a secure Israel alongside a secure and viable state of Palestine.

That’s why Labour supports an end to half a century of Israeli occupation and the illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, and a Labour government will recognise the state of Palestine.

I think all of us want to feel proud of the role Britain plays in the world.

Our standing on the world stage and the resources at our disposal mean we have enormous capacity to be a force for international solidarity and peace, which is why we will commit £100m more to UN peacekeeping operations.

When I speak to members of the Armed Forces who went to West Africa to deal with the Ebola crisis, or members of the Royal Navy who plucked drowning refugees from the Mediterranean Sea, they tell me how proud they are of what they achieved.

So I am proud that in April 2020 a Labour government will deliver a 5% pay rise to our Armed Forces, as we will to all public service workers.

And when I speak to veterans of the D-Day landings, as I did at the 75th anniversary commemorations this year, it is truly humbling. That generation of men and women showed unimaginable heroism. Many laid down their lives to defeat fascism.

I have huge confidence and faith in the British people’s spirit and commitment to decency, fairness and community. It’s your country. That’s why Labour is on your side.

I am patriotic about the people of this country. Patriotism is about supporting each other, not attacking somebody else.

It’s about caring for the whole of society, for all our people, and not walking by on the other side when they need help and support. It’s about loving your country enough to make it a place where nobody is homeless or hungry, held back or left behind.

And on the international stage, it’s about standing up for the values we share of justice, human rights and democracy and working with others to keep people safe, by ending conflict and tackling the climate emergency.

I want us to be proud of all of the work we do all around the world. That is the kind of country we all want to live in. That is the kind of government I want to lead.

That is real security. That is real change. Thank you.

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