Over 1,500 Labour Party members have signed an open letter calling for Nia Griffith’s resignation, reports Shabbir Lakha
Nia Griffith has long held positions contrary to those that Jeremy Corbyn stands for and that the membership supports him for. She backs Trident renewal, Nato expansionism, increasing defence spending...the list goes on and on. More often than not, her public statements have served only to undermine Jeremy Corbyn and often to attack the Tories - for not being hawkish enough.
Her latest intervention has, however, sparked outrage among Labour members. Last week, she tweeted her support for the new Tory Defence Secretary, Penny Mordaunt, who said that "prosecutions of veterans" who may have committed human rights abuses has "dragged on for too long". Referencing IHAT, the Iraqi Historic Allegations Team that investigated allegations of abuse and torture committed by British soldiers in Iraq between 2003 and 2009, Mordaunt said "I want to ensure our service personnel are not...pursued unfairly for events that took place decades ago."
In response, Nia Griffith said she is "glad to hear this" and she "look[s] forward to working with Penny Mordaunt on this".
Rightly, Labour members are not happy about Labour's Shadow Defence Secretary supporting the Tories to give impunity to British soldiers for crimes committed abroad. In less than 24 hours since it was launched, over 1,500 Labour Party members have signed an open letter calling for Nia Griffith’s resignation and for the Labour leadership to take action if she doesn't resign.
Given the experience of the torture centres of Abu Ghraib and other documented egregious violations of human rights and international law in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is absurd to suggest that British soldiers should not be held to account for their actions - something enshrined by the Nuremberg principles in international law. By a member of Jeremy Corbyn's Shadow Cabinet no less.
Labour members have twice voted in as leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has been committed against war and in defence of human rights for all his adult life. Nia Griffith and her reactionary politics can only damage the Labour Party.
Shabbir Lakha is a Stop the War officer, a People's Assembly activist and a member of Counterfire.
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