You’re an antiwar socialist leading Western Europe’s largest political party. Are you part of a global antiestablishment phenomenon?
It’s not about me personally, it’s about a rejection of the neoliberal consensus by a lot of people all over the world. Europe and the U.S. were the last to wake up to this.
Your former Labour Party colleague David Miliband says you’re making the party “unelectable.” How can you win in 2020?
We are reaching out to people who are disillusioned with politics because of the lack of distance between the Labour and Conservative parties. We are very enthusiastically mobilizing a lot of young people who didn’t vote in the last election.
Is that the same kind of energy that has propelled Donald Trump’s campaign?
No, I think the Trump campaign is much more about a charismatic individual who’s made a great deal of money out of business, then assuming that his charisma will carry him into office. I don’t think there are many people who want to see greater social justice who are supporting Trump. I think the parallels are too often drawn between Trump and what is happening in our country.
What do you think about Trump as a leader?
He doesn’t attempt any form of political consensus. His statements about, for example, the wall between the U.S. and Mexico are beyond absurd. My wife is from Mexico and the anger of people there about Trump is unbelievable.
What would you hope for from a Hillary Clinton presidency?
I hope she would be prepared to do all that she can to de-escalate tensions around the world, and support attempts led by the U.N. to put a legal ban on nuclear weapons.
Britain will begin the process of leaving the European Union next year. What is your position on Brexit?
I will be pressing the government for full access to the European Single Market for goods and services. We must also establish fair migration rules as part of the Brexit negotiations, which will establish our new relationship with the E.U.
The U.K.’s ruling Conservative Party wants companies to publish the number of overseas employees. Is this a smart way to curb migration?
Instead of stopping the abuse of migrant labor, the Conservatives are fanning the flames of xenophobia. Drawing up lists of foreign workers in our companies will foster discrimination in workplaces and in communities.
Have the U.K. and E.U. done enough to help refugees?
The program in Europe is floundering. Germany has done by far the most, Britain has done a minimal amount, and I’m working with other socialists across Europe to try to get an agreed European position of supporting refugees. In any other era in history, it would be a mark of shame that more hasn’t been done.
Have international airstrikes in Syria made the situation worse?
There has to be a political solution in Syria and I would urge Russia and the U.S. to get together as quickly as possible to try to agree on another cease-fire. A war is not going to solve Syria’s problems.
You’ve been quoted calling Hamas and Hizballah “friends” in the past. Do you regret it?
The remarks people quoted at me concerning Hamas were actually an inclusive way of addressing a meeting to ensure a serious discussion took place. It was not an endorsement.
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Write to Mark Leftly / London at firstname.lastname@example.org