In a small taste of the heated rhetoric British voters can expect in the coming weeks and months, U.K. Conservatives came out fast and fierce against Jeremy Corbyn Saturday just hours after he became the newly elected leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party in a landslide election.
The Conservative Party’s official Facebook and Twitter accounts blasted social media users with a sharply colored meme painting the veteran far-left politician as a terrorist sympathizer who considers Hamas a friend, laments the death of Osama bin Laden and poses a grave threat to the U.K.’s national security.
“This is a very serious moment for our country -- only the Conservatives will continue to deliver stability, security and opportunity,” the party wrote in a Facebook comment.
Labour are now a serious risk to our national security. Please RT to let everyone know. pic.twitter.com/pH3c2S7RYa
— Conservatives (@Conservatives) September 12, 2015
The meme, which was also sent to Conservative supporters by email, claims Corbyn has called Hamas and Hezbollah “friends.” It also claims the 66-year-old lawmaker has called the killing of Osama bin Laden a “tragedy.” According to the Guardian, the meme quotes Corbyn out of context, lifting the statement from an interview with Iran’s Press TV in which Corbyn said it was a tragedy that U.S. forces made the decision to kill bin Laden in 2011 rather than put him on trial.
With an impassioned platform aimed at tackling income inequality and reducing the defense budget, Corbyn won almost 60 percent of the vote in Saturday’s election, demolishing his three challengers, Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall. Two of his challengers, Cooper and Burnham, congratulated Corbyn on Twitter Saturday, saying it was time now to focus on the future and take on the Conservatives.
Not everyone in the party was thrilled with Corbyn’s victory. Shadow Health Minister Jamie Reed announced he would be stepping down from the party’s front bench. In his resignation letter, which he tweeted earlier on Saturday, Reed cited Corbyn’s opposition to his nuclear policy, a stance he called “poorly informed and wrong.” “To be clear, I will not let anything or anyone from any party stand in the way of the ambitions of my community,” Reed wrote.
— Jamie Reed (@jreedmp) September 12, 2015
Conservative leaders, including Prime Minister David Cameron, had been warning about dire consequences for the U.K. should Corbyn coast to victory. “Whether it’s weakening our defenses, raising taxes on jobs and earnings, racking up more debt and welfare or driving up the cost of living by printing money, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party will hurt working people,” Michael Fallon, the defense secretary, said in a statement.
Nicola Sturgeon, first minister of Scotland, took a different stance, saying the Scottish government is ready to work with Corbyn as part of a “progressive alliance” against the Conservatives, the Guardian reported.
Hope Corbyn will give early and cast iron commitment that Labour MPs will join @theSNP in voting against Trident renewal.
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) September 12, 2015