‘Negotiate with ISIS’ comment a ‘major mistake’ by Owen Smith
A contender in the leadership race for the opposition Labour Party in the UK, Owen Smith suggested that ISIS should be brought to the negotiating table. Smith voiced the idea during a debate with his rival, the current party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Later, however, he backtracked on the claims he would “get round the table” with the terrorist group.
RT:Owen Smith says solutions come about through dialogue. Could there be something else behind his words?
Jon Gaunt: It is harmless on one level, but also very damaging on another. Basically what he was trying to do is out-Corbyn, Corbyn [who] is more left-wing than him. But he has just shown how naïve he is and how silly he is. He knows he’s going to lose this election to Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn is trying to be ousted at the moment by a small number of MPs, even though he is a democratically elected leader of that particular party. So I think this was Owen Smith trying to grab the headlines. He hadn’t thought it through. It is a major faux pas, it is a major mistake. You cannot negotiate with people who chop off people’s heads; who set fire to children and who rape women. You just cannot negotiate with these savages.
RT: How will his words go down with the voters? Will his rhetoric sway voters’ opinion?
JG: No, I don’t think so. The whole UK thinks he’s a laughing stock, they all think he’s a joke. Fundamentally he’s right: in the end negotiation is the way that wins arguments. But you can’t possibly negotiate with these people – they haven’t got a clear political aim. What they have – is to bring down the rest of the world and for us all to live in their sort of Caliphate. So, you can’t actually do it, which he recognized himself later, when he went back on his words and said: “First of all, they have to renounce violence.” Well, there is more chance of me winning slimmer of the year than them renouncing violence…
I believe Corbyn will win this election quite easily, and he’ll provide a different alternative to the British public – a socialist alternative, and people can decide if they wish to vote for it.
By the way, I am not a supporter of Corbyn, but he is a much cleverer operator and more astute politician than this man, who frankly none of us had heard of a few weeks ago.
RT: What are Corbyn’s chances of then, because a large amount of Labour politicians want him out?
JG: The people who want him out – quite a large group of the parliamentary Labour party, the MPs. But the actual membership all voted for him, he was more democratically elected than the last person, who was the leader, Ed Miliband, who had to rely on stabbing his brother in the back and indeed the union votes… The membership want Corbyn as the leader and this small cabal of MPs are acting in a totally undemocratic way. They want to remove him, because he is not doing or isn’t going to do, what they want. They think is unelectable, when it comes to a general election. But I think the general membership of the Labour Party disagrees. I think he will absolutely walk the election, when it happens later in September.
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