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Defending Labour’s progressive internationalism – Yasmine Dar, #GrassrootsVoice Labour NEC candidate

“It was a privilege for me to be on the platform for the session of Annual Conference 2018 where our whole movement made a commitment to justice and human rights for the Palestinian people. “

Yasmine Dar

One of the most important features of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership was his internationalist agenda. Jeremy’s commitment to building peace and justice and defending human rights, not just in Britain but across the world, has been one of the defining features of his career and in particular of the past five years  – and one which his critics found hardest to bear. This is a legacy that we must defend.

As an NEC member, it has been brilliant, under Jeremy’s leadership to regularly discuss how the Labour Party builds its links with similar progressive movements across the world. It was a privilege for me to be on the platform for Annual Conference 2018 where our whole movement made a commitment to justice and human rights for the Palestinian people, and to see this repeated a year later. It was incredible at Annual Conference 2019 to have a proper debate about the situation of people in Kashmir and commit to solidarity with their struggle, taking place under the most difficult of circumstances. And where do we find ourselves today?

  • Gaza has been bombarded for nights on end, with the situation of those living there in already inhumane conditions, getting worse by the day to virtually no coverage or outcry in this country. For just one example, the enclave suffers from a severe scarcity of drinkable water, where water contamination has reached 97 per cent.
  • In Latin America, US influence continues to exacerbate inequality, and I, like Jeremy, stand with those suffering, for example under the far right policies of Bolsonaro in Brazil; and with those fighting back such as those resisting the coup-government in Bolivia and the new ‘Union for Hope’ in Ecuador.
  • And refugees are dying on our doorstep because of the conditions we in the west have created. In 2003, Jeremy Corbyn warned that the conflict in Iraq ‘ will set off a spiral of conflict, of hate, of misery, of desperation that will fuel the wars, the conflict, the terrorism, the depression and the misery of future generations.’ He was right then and it remains a lesson to be heeded. I will continue to speak out against British involvement in arming repressive regimes and bombing countries at will to advance our own economic agenda with scant regard to those on the receiving end.

Since Keir Starmer became Leader of the Labour Party, the way these issues have been raised, if at all, has been to downplay our internationalist commitments to human rights. There appears to be insufficient regard amongst the new leadership and shadow foreign secretary for our policies in these areas democratically agreed by annual conference and some very concerning indications that ‘coalitions of the willing’ interventions are back on the table.

There is too much at stake to, at best, ignore issues of international policy and certainly no appetite amongst Labour members and potential voters to return to the days of interventionist foreign policy. Not only is turning our back on our progressive internationalist agenda wrong in principle, it will also make it impossible to build the coalitions we need to win for Labour at local and national level, when we so desperately need Labour in power.

I know that I have spoken for many individual members and trade unionists when I have taken up these issues with Keir under the Leader’s Report at NEC meetings. And as a member of Labour’s National Policy Forum International Policy Commission, it has been encouraging to see that so many members and trade unionists continue to share Jeremy’s approach to peace and human rights internationally.

I am currently standing for re-election to the NEC alongside Ann Henderson, Laura Pidcock, Nadia Jama, Gemma Bolton, Mish Rahman as part of the Grassroots Voice slate. If re-elected, I will continue to speak out for members and build campaigns on key issues, including on issues of international peace and justice. Please make sure your CLP nominates us and that you vote for us when the time comes.

  • Follow the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance on Twitter here and Facebook here. Read more info here.
  • EVENT: Labour, Peace & Internationalism – with #GrassrootsVoice NEC Candidates including Yasmine. Thursday, 17 September, 19:00. Register here / Retweet here to spread the word / Share & invite on Facebook here

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