British Prime Minister David Cameron delivered a heated speech Wednesday to his fellow Conservative Party members at their annual conference, in which he attacked the newly elected Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, accusing him of hating Britain and being a “terrorist sympathizer.”
“You only really need to know one thing: he thinks the death of Osama bin Laden was a ‘tragedy’ ...my friends – we cannot let that man inflict his security-threatening, terrorist-sympathizing, Britain-hating ideology on the country we love,” he said to applause from the audience.
Cameron was referring to an interview Corbyn gave in 2011 to Iranian television channel Press TV, regarding the killing of the al-Qaida leader. When reading the whole quote, Cameron’s paraphrasing of Corbyn’s assessment of bin Laden’s death appears extremely selective:“There was no attempt whatsoever that I can see to arrest him, to put him on trial, to go through that process. This was an assassination attempt, and is yet another tragedy, upon a tragedy, upon a tragedy. The World Trade Center was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy. Tens of thousands of people have died,” Corbyn told his interviewer.
Indeed, critics say the Conservative Party has been using this interview out of context as a way to attack Corbyn.
The Labour leader's team responded to the accusations through their Twitter account, explaining that Cameron is trying to avoid debating issues and instead opting for 'name calling' and personalized attacks.
In a surprising detour, the prime minister also addressed poverty in his speech. The right-wing leader promised to launch a war on poverty and to significantly increase social housing projects.
“We are going to tackle those big social problems – just you watch us … central to that is an all-out assault on poverty. Conservatives understand that if we’re serious about solving the problem, we need to tackle the root causes of poverty,” he told his fellow party members.
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He further claimed Labour had no understanding of the issue of poverty itself.
“Just remember: Labour ideas don’t help the poor, they hurt the poor. That’s right, Labour: you’re not for working people, but hurting people. If you want a lecture about poverty, ask Labour. If you want something done about it, come to us, the Conservatives,” he added.
Poverty and inequality have been central issues in Jeremy Corbyn's campaign and speeches.
The prime minister continued to label the Labour Party as “irrational,” intensifying his attacks against Corbyn.
“I want them to grow up proud of our country. That’s right: less Britain-bashing, more national pride – our way, the Conservative way, the only way to greater days. So big battles. Big arguments. A Greater Britain. Keeping our head as Labour lose theirs,” he said.
Corbyn supporters say that Cameron’s speech, which dedicated so much time to attacking the new Labour leader and the party, is evidence that even the prime minister cannot ignore his opponents' popularity.