Published: December 02, 2019
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Jeremy Corbyn blasted Tory cuts that have left the country vulnerable to terrorism as Labour surged in the polls with vows to end austerity.
The Labour leader also slammed the part-privatisation of the probation service as he spoke out in the wake of Friday’s London Bridge atrocity – which he called an attack on “our democratic process itself”.
Terrorist Usman Khan killed Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones after being released early from jail on licence.
Mr Corbyn warned cuts to the justice system can lead to “missed chances to intervene in the lives of people who go on to commit absolutely inexcusable acts”.
He said: “You can’t keep people safe on the cheap.”
He was backed by criminologist and former prison officer Ian Acheson, who led a government review of Islamist extremism in prisons and probation.
Mr Acheson said: “At the heart of this is the destruction of the prison and probation service through crazy, failed, ideological austerity cuts.”
Mr Corbyn also highlighted police cuts that have led to the loss of 21,000 officers since 2010.
He said: “No government can prevent every attack but it can act to make such acts of terror less rather than more likely. Public services are the glue that binds our society together – community policing, the probation service, mental health, youth and social services... When those public services are cut back they leave behind gaps.” He vowed to “do whatever is necessary and effective to keep our people safe”.
Mr Corbyn, who opposed UK military action in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, also accused successive British governments – including New Labour – of fuelling the terror threat by waging war abroad.
He said: “Their mistakes in no way absolve terrorists of blame for their murderous actions – the blame lies with the terrorists, their funders and recruiters. But if we are to protect people, we must be honest about what threatens our security. Too often the actions of successive governments have fuelled, not reduced, that threat.”
(Image: Met Police)
He also lashed the government for failing to release a report into Saudi funding of extremist groups.
He said: “Given Friday’s events and the continuing terror threat, it is simply unacceptable that this report is not in the public domain.”
He vowed to “stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen” and again pledged to introduce a War Powers Bill so a prime minister would have to win Parliament’s support for any military action.
He was speaking in York on the election trail in North Yorkshire, where he was snapped in Whitby wearing a jacket with the words “for the many not the few” woven into the pinstripe.
Mr Corbyn was given a polls boost as several surveys showed the gap narrowing between Labour and the Conservatives.
With just 10 days to the election on December 12, an Opinium poll found the gap had narrowed from 19 points to 15, with the Tories on 46% and Labour 31%.
YouGov said its gap was down from 11 to 9 points, with the Tories on 43% and Labour on 34%.
BMG claimed that a 13pt gap had been cut to just six points in a week, with the Tories on 39% and Labour on 33%.
Robert Struthers, of BMG, said the figures “take the Conservative lead from a likely majority into possible hung parliament territory”. source