Corbyn must be a Tory sleeper agent. What other possible explanation can there be for his latest comments, this time about the UK’s special forces?

In an interview with Peter Oborne and David Heath for Middle East Eye, the Labour leader said:

“Yes, I’m very concerned about this because the prime minister – or when David Cameron was prime minister and I should imagine Theresa May would say much the same – would say parliamentary convention now requires that for the deployment of British troops there has to be a parliamentary mandate. Except – and they’ve all used the except – when there are special forces involved. The question of this of course goes back a long way to Vietnam 1963, when the US managed to have I think 50,000 advisors to the South Vietnamese government before Congress was even invited to vote on whether or not it should be involved in the Vietnam War. I think the parallel is a very serious one. Clearly Britain is involved. Either through special forces in Libya or through arms supplies to Saudi Arabia to the war in Yemen. And indeed by the same process to the supply of anti-personnel equipment that is being used in Bahrain by Saudi Arabia. So I think we have to have a War Powers Act that is much more watertight on this. [Labour MP] Graham Allen has produced some very interesting proposals on a War Powers Act which, if we don’t get to discuss and don’t get the opportunity to vote on in this Parliament, I think that should be something that Parliament as a parliamentary matter should vote on. Then it would be up to a future Labour government to bring it in. I would see it as very important.”

There are two potential objections here, one operational and other electoral. With everything the West is up against, fighting Islamist maniacs who have created a sinister feedback loop, recruiting in our countries and fighting proxy wars in the Middle East with fighters raised in the West, the democracies – let us call them the Allies – need some freedom of operational manoeuvre to strike with the element of surprise. Special forces that require a parliamentary vote before they take out an Islamist bunker won’t be very special or forceful. As someone on Twitter put it: why not just send ISIS a postcard ahead of each operation? In suggesting a Commons vote on SAS deployment it is almost as though Corbyn doesn’t want the West to have any tools to defend itself. Funny that.

The second objection is electoral, and it will add to the sense among Labour moderates that Corbyn is quite simply anti-British, which is not a good look for a party leader. Most of the British are pretty realistic about defence and our capabilities. It is only the anti-British who accuse the British of possessing an imperial mindset. But an area where we do definitely punch above our weight is in special forces – which include the SAS, the SBS and the Special Reconnaissance Regiment. A Labour leader who wants to restrain the SAS when it has a chance to take out Islamist fighters who want to kill us will attract some support from the British public, of course. But not very much, particularly when it comes to a general election.