Demonstrators led by human rights activist Peter Tatchell have disrupted a speech by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in protest at the party’s response to Syria.
Mr Tatchell, a veteran left-wing activist, told Mr Corbyn he was not doing enough support aid drops in the besieged city of Aleppo, calling for him to “step up and demand action in Syria”.
The Labour leader, himself a veteran far-left activist, was in the middle of a speech marking Human Rights Day, the anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights.
However, Mr Tatchell and other demonstrators stormed the stage and held up signs reading “Sanction Russia for war crimes”, “Suspend Syria from the UN” and “Back UK aid drops now”.
Mr Corbyn insisted his party had repeatedly condemned Russian actions in Aleppo, but then apparently forgetting he was still wearing a microphone, could be heard asking his Shadow Foreign Secretary: “When did we condemn the bombing?”
And the aftermath, as Jeremy Corbyn supporters accost Peter Tatchell outside the Methodist Hall. pic.twitter.com/IUR5FcN1Tt
— Jon Ironmonger (@JonIronmonger) December 10, 2016
Speaking to Sky News after the protest, Mr Tatchell highlighted a growing rift in the radical left: “Jeremy is very much of the Old School mould that U.S. imperialism and British imperialism are the main enemies in the world.
“Sorry, but the world has move on. We now have the rise of Russian imperialism, which we’ve seen in Ukraine and Crimea and we’re seeing today in Syria.
“We’ve also got the rise of Iranian imperialism, with the Iranian intervention in Syria. I don’t think Jeremy has been equidistant in his vociferous condemnations of Russia, Iran and the Assad regime as he has been against, for example, Saudi Arabia.”
He also accused the Labour leader of speaking in “generalities” about human rights abuses, but failing to take concrete action in Parliament to do anything about them.
“Of course, Labour has said it supports the principle of aid drops but it is not actually doing anything to get a vote in Parliament to make sure that they happen,” he said.