Corbyn on the Falklands: Andrew Marr Interview on 17 January
Corbyn reveals his true colours about the Falkland Islands during an Andrew Marr interview. In favouring a ‘reasonable accommodation with Argentina’, he ignores the Islanders’ right to self-determination – and in calling the situation ‘ridiculous’, he should talk to the Islanders and British veterans of the 1982 to learn their perspective.
Towards the end of a lengthy Andrew Marr BBC TV interview with Jeremy Corbyn MP on Sunday, 17 January, there was a brief discussion of the Labour Party leader’s views on the Falkland Islands.
Andrew Marr opened by saying that the new Argentine President wanted renewed sovereignty negotiations; should the Falkland Islanders have a veto?
Corbyn replied saying:
"I think there has to be a discussion about how you can bring about a reasonable accommodation with Argentina. It seems to me to be ridiculous that in the 21st century we should be getting into some enormous conflict with Argentina about islands just off it. Yes, of course the Islanders have an enormous say in it but let’s bring about some sensible dialogue. It happened before and I’m sure it can happen again.”
Asked again about whether the Islanders should have a veto, Corbyn replied:
"They have a right to stay where they are. They have a right to decide their own future. That will be part of it. Let’s have that discussion and let’s not set agendas in advance.”
Asked whether he supported the war to regain the Falklands in 1982, Corbyn said:
"I thought that the original war was a problem for both countries in the sense that Galtieri was a deeply unpopular dictator in Argentina. I thought that President Terry of Peru was trying to make enormous progress by bringing about a UN resolution to it and then we had the disaster of the sinking of the Belgrano and the whole situation got worse as a result. Surely, in the 21st century, we can do better than going to war on these things.”
A ‘reasonable accommodation’ goes against the Falkland Islanders’ right to self-determination and would in any case be impossible to achieve given that the Argentine Constitution demands full Argentine sovereignty over the Islands. Calling the situation ‘ridiculous’ is a slap in the face of the Falkland Islanders who in the 2013 referendum voted by an overwhelming majority for the Falkland Islands to remain a British Overseas Territory – and it is absolutely demeaning to the memory of the British military personnel and civilians who lost their lives and were injured during the 1982 conflict. Mr Corbyn should talk to the Islanders and military veterans of the 1982 conflict to appreciate their perspective.
Footnote: President Fernando Belaúnde Terry (more usually known as President Belaúnde), served as President of Peru 1980-1985; died 2002. Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman analyses the impact of the sinking of the Belgrano on the Peruvian initiative in his exhaustive Official History of the Falklands Campaign, Volume II, Routledge 2005. He dismisses the post-conflict allegation that the Belgrano was attacked deliberately to undermine the peace initiative.