Nia Griffith facing calls to resign as 1500 sign open letter
Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith is facing calls to resign following tweets suggesting Labour would support the government in giving amnesty to soldiers for historical war crimes.
The tweets came after the controversy over the actions of soldiers during the troubles in Northern Ireland, with ‘Soldier F’ becoming a hot button online issue, and the recent revelation from The Irish News that members of the parachute regiment had used a Catholic man’s skull as an ashtray after shooting him in Belfast in 1971.
Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt claimed that “we owe it to those who take the greatest risk in service of their nation” to give them legal protections, with Griffith claiming Labour will support any proposals that are effective and fair.
This prompted outrage from many Labour Party members as the Scottish, and UK wings of Young Labour both released statements calling on Griffith to resign, or be sacked by the leadership. Lara McNeill, Young Labour’s representative of the NEC told the Red Robin “The view expressed by Nia Griffith is a total abnegation of Labour’s commitment to human rights and international justice. British Soldiers who commit war crimes should be punished, whether in Ireland, Iraq or Afghanistan. Nia Griffith should resign immediately”
These statements were strengthened when labour historian Ewan Gibbs launched an open letter calling for Griffith’s resignation, which was signed by more than 1500 people, including figures from across the labour movement and a variety of Labour Party factions including both Momentum and Progress.
Momentum was also critical of the statement, positing on Twitter: "We can't just give soldiers a blank cheque to commit war crimes. It would dishonour all those soldiers and civilians who have been killed in war and we have to hold our military to the highest standards. @NiaGriffithMP was totally wrong and should retract her statement."
Scottish Labour MP for Glasgow North East Paul Sweeney was quick to condemn Griffith on Twitter saying that “Labour is a party of human rights defenders. We cannot allow British citizens to get away with war crimes if they are guilty.”
Tha Labour press office did not respond to a request for comment.