JEREMY Corbyn used his first major speech as Labour leader to warn against military action in Syria.
Speaking during the Labour Party Conference in Brighton, Mr Corbyn hit out at former PM Tony Blair over the Iraq War, saying hundreds of troops needlessly lost their lives.
He claimed the UK had gone to war under a false pretext in “defiance of the United Nations”.
The new Labour leader, who received a standing ovation when he took to the stage, warned that past mistakes should not be repeated by military intervention against Isil in Syria.
He said: ‘We all want the atrocities to stop and the Syrian people to be able to return home and be free to determine their own destiny.
‘But the answer to this complex and tragic conflict can’t simply be found in a few more bombs.’
He told the conference the UK needed a “strong and modern military” and that the nation should “take a lead in humanitarian and peacekeeping missions” working alongside the United Nations.
However, speaking of Mr Blair’s move to go to war with Iraq in 2003, Mr Corbyn added: ‘It didn’t help our national security when we went to war with Iraq in defiance of the United Nations and on a false prospectus.
‘It didn’t help our national security to endure the loss of hundreds of brave British soldiers in that war while making no proper preparation for what to do after the fall of the regime.’
The veteran left-winger also used his leadership speech to renew his pledge to scrap the Trident nuclear weapons programme and promised a review of Britain’s defence capabilities.
It didn’t help our national security to endure the loss of hundreds of brave British soldiers in that war while making no proper preparation for what to do after the fall of the regimeJeremy Corbyn, Labour leader
He declared: ‘I don’t believe that £100bn spent on a new generation of nuclear weapons taking up a quarter of our defence budget is the right way forward.’
He did, however, say that he was keen the jobs and skills of people working in the defence sector had to be protected.
Under his ‘kinder politics’ mandate, Mr Corbyn said the UK should take a more prominent role in the international nuclear disarmament effort.
He added: ‘The best way to protect the British people against the threats we face to our safety at home and abroad is to work to resolve conflict.’
The Islington North MP started his speech by thanking all those who voted for him as well as praising a number of key party members, including former leader Ed Milliband.
As well as reaffirming his stance on the nation’s future defence strategy, Mr Corbyn used his first leadership speech to reaffirm his commitment to being an activist.
He confirmed plans to take railway services back into public ownership as franchises come up for renewal.
But he insisted the party’s policies would be subject to a comprehensive review, with Labour members having “the final say” on what they should be.
After coming under attack for his failure to sing the national anthem at a Battle of Britain commemoration, Mr Corbyn insisted that his political beliefs were driven by “shared majority British values” and his love of his country.
And he said he wanted to harness the “political earthquake” which brought him into office this summer to build “a society for the majority” in Britain.
Mr Corbyn said the Conservative Government existed “to protect the few and tell all the rest of us to accept what we’re given”, offering tax breaks to the hedge funds which have lavished donations on the Tories since David Cameron became leader, while “cutting jobs ... slashing public services ... vandalising the NHS ... cutting junior doctors’ pay ... reducing care for the elderly ... destroying the hopes of young people for a college education or putting university graduates into massive debt ... putting half a million more people into poverty”.
‘They want us to believe there is no alternative,’ he said.
‘They want the people of Britain to accept all of these things. They expect millions of people to work harder and longer for a lower quality of life.
‘Our Labour Party says “no”.
‘The British people never have to take what they are given. And certainly not when it comes from Cameron and Osborne.’
Other points raised during Mr Corbyn’s inaugural speech included:
n A direct challenge to the PM to act over a 17-year-old protestor under threat of beheading and crucifixion in Saudi Arabia
n He spoke against plans to scrap the Human Rights Act
n Mr Corbyn said Labour would make every school accountable to local councils
n He promised a new National Investment Bank to support investment in infrastructure