Spy attack action was right step

Ronnie Campbell MP'Picture by Jane Coltman
Ronnie Campbell MP'Picture by Jane Coltman

What should we do about the state-sponsored nerve agent attack on British soil against a former Russian spy and his daughter?

My party leader Jeremy Corbyn was right to urge caution in our response.

And what do his critics want us to do? Bomb Russia? Spark a Third World War?

That said, this was clearly a terrorist operation and the likes of Vladimir Putin, and Donald Trump for that matter, only respect strength.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, at the time of writing, remain critically ill in hospital. The UK government says they were poisoned with a nerve agent of a type developed by Russia called Novichok, and Theresa May said she believed Moscow was “culpable”.

For once, I agree with her response – chucking out Russian “diplomats” and threatening to seize the assets of corrupt Russian oligarchs.

That is also the official Labour Party line, as spelt out by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.

But two aspects of this tragedy have not been properly covered. The first is that the Tories have slashed our defence budget to the lowest point since the Cold War. No wonder Putin who, like US President Donald Trump, has never seen military action or been under shot and shell, thinks he can get away with murder.

The second is, believe it or not, wealthy Russians have spent several years funding… you’ve guessed it, the Tories.

The Conservative Party has since 2010 received from wealthy Russians, who have taken British citizenship, at least £1,157,433, not including donations from companies with links to Russia.

Russia also took an active interest in the Scottish referendum, which threatened Britain’s Trident base at Faslane. UKIP has also faced scrutiny, given that Nigel Farage and other senior staff have praised Putin and accused the EU of “provoking” Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Labour has not received a single penny, which says a lot.