Labour reshuffle: Lisa Nandy’s strong foreign policy record should maintain the party’s anti-imperialist line post-Corbyn


KEIR STARMER was not the leader that many on the Labour left wanted.

However, his new Shadow Cabinet announced earlier today will encourage many to stay and fight in the party.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, a strong Corbyn ally, is back on the frontbench.

Lisa Nandy – backed by two thirds of our editorial team – takes on the shadow foreign secretary role vacated by Emily Thornberry.

LISTEN: Redaction Politics Podcast: Labour Leadership Special – How do the candidates measure up on foreign policy?

It’s not a role many saw for her – Nandy shone through in the leadership contest with her strong domestic policy and focus on ‘towns’ – but her past statements on foreign policy are encouraging.

Like Corbyn, Nandy’s strong record on Palestinian rights is very encouraging.

She has argued strongly for a Palestinian state to be recognised without the prerequisite of a peace-brokered with Israel.

During a 2014 debate on Palestinian statehood, she told MPs: ‘The UK, not Israel, det ermines our foreign policy’, showing a willingness to make the moral and practical arguments for Palestinian self-determination. 

As chair of Labour Friends of Palestine, she has also taken a strong stance defending the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.

In arguing this position, Nandy has not attempted to whitewash the violence inflicted on Palestinians during Israel’s formative years, calling it out for what it was, the ‘Nakba’ – a catastrophe. 

The number of Palestinians with refugee status as defined by the United Nations has grown from the 700,000 originally displaced in 1948 to more than five million registered today.

For those left in limbo in the past 70 years, the struggle over the ‘right of return’ is maintained in the face of the brutal trial and hardships of occupation and exile.

Unless the likes of Labour’s new shadow foreign secretary continue to show the necessary courage to champion these arguments, the statelessness of the Palestinians will continue.

There have certainly been errors – a botched answer on Scotland and Catalonia dogged her campaign throughout, and she has admitted that moral military intervention is still on the table.

For the most part, however, she has maintained an anti-interventionist line, and has lambasted Donald Trump’s scattered foreign policy on multiple occassions.

Members can be assured that, should there be a vote on Middle Eastern (or even South American) military intervention, Labour will hold the government to account instead of cheerleading a war.

There were fears that, following five years of Labour holding its most anti-imperialist line since its founding, a return to the liberal interventionist ‘Blairite’ years was inevitable.

Many voted for Corbyn for his defence of Palestinian rights, opposition to the Iraq War and support for the oppressed worldwide.

Thankfully, it looks like Nandy will continue to hold the line.

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