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Jeremy Corbyn's Nato stance is a first for a Labour leader

Corbyn's refusal to support collective defence puts him at odds with all of his predecessors. 

It was under the Attlee government in 1949 that the UK co-founded Nato and became one of its senior members. Every Labour leader since has supported the military alliance. But in last night's hustings, Jeremy Corbyn refused to commit to upholding Article 5: the principle of collective defence ("an attack against one Ally is considered as an attack against all Allies"). 

When asked how the UK would respond if a fellow Nato member state was invaded by Russia, Corbyn replied: "I would want to avoid us getting involved militarily by building up the diplomatic relationships and also trying to not isolate any country in Europe, to bring them up." Pressed on the subject, he added: "I don’t wish to go to war. What I want to do is achieve a world where we don’t need to go to war, where there is no need for it. That can be done."

Corbyn's stance is not especially surprising. During last year's leadership election, he suggested that Nato should have been disbanded ("It's a Cold War organisation, it should have been wound up in 1990 along with the Warsaw Pact"), though he later retreated and stated that there wasn't "an appetite as a whole for people to leave". But his stance on Article 5, which echoes that of Donald Trump, has resurrected the divide.

Owen Smith, his rival candidate, replied: "Were there an invasion of a Nato state by Russia, I am clear that we would need to come to the aid of that state militarily. I believe in us supporting one another, I believe in us working against countries. And the nature of that accord, that treaty, is to do that." He added: "We shouldn't be anything other than robust in facing up to Putin, especially if there were military action against a Nato country." Wes Streeting MP has described Corbyn's stance as "a gross betrayal of Labour's internationalist values". 

As I noted earlier, no other party leader has ever adopted this position. Though it is often claimed that Labour's 1983 manifesto pledged Nato withdrawal, it actually stated: "Labour believes in collective security. The next Labour government will maintain its support for Nato". It is for reasons such as these that 172 Labour MPs voted no confidence in their leader last month and 65 resigned from his frontbench. Corbyn will now find it even harder to persuade any to return in the likely event of his re-election.  

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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UnHerd's rejection of the new isn't as groundbreaking as it seems to think

Tim Montgomerie's new venture has some promise, but it's trying to solve an old problem.

Information overload is oft-cited as one of the main drawbacks of the modern age. There is simply too much to take in, especially when it comes to news. Hourly radio bulletins, rolling news channels and the constant stream of updates available from the internet – there is just more than any one person can consume. 

Luckily Tim Montgomerie, the founder of ConservativeHome and former Times comment editor, is here to help. Montgomerie is launching UnHerd, a new media venture that promises to pull back and focus on "the important things rather than the latest things". 

According to Montgomerie the site has a "package of investment", at least some of which comes from Paul Marshall. He is co-founder of one of Europe's largest hedge funds, Marshall Wace, formerly a longstanding Lib Dem, and also one of the main backers and chair of Ark Schools, an academy chain. The money behind the project is on display in UnHerd's swish (if slightly overwhelming) site, Google ads promoting the homepage, and article commissions worth up to $5,000. The selection of articles at launch includes an entertaining piece by Lionel Shriver on being a "news-aholic", though currently most of the bylines belong to Montgomerie himself. 

Guidelines for contributors, also meant to reflect the site's "values", contain some sensible advice. This includes breaking down ideas into bullet points, thinking about who is likely to read and promote articles, and footnoting facts. 

The guidelines also suggest focusing on what people will "still want to read in six, 12 or 24 months" and that will "be of interest to someone in Cincinnati or Perth as well as Vancouver or St Petersburg and Cape Town and Edinburgh" – though it's not quite clear how one of Montgomerie's early contributions, a defence of George Osborne's editorship of the Evening Standard, quite fits that global criteria. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the full page comment piece Montgomerie got in Osborne's paper to bemoan the deficiencies of modern media on the day UnHerd launched. 

UnHerd's mascot  – a cow – has also created some confusion, compounded by another line in the writing tips describing it as "a cow, who like our target readers, tends to avoid herds and behave in unmissable ways as a result". At least Montgomerie only picked the second-most famous poster animal for herding behaviour. It could have been a sheep. In any case, the line has since disappeared from the post – suggesting the zoological inadequacy of the metaphor may have been recognised. 

There is one way in which UnHerd perfectly embodies its stated aim of avoiding the new – the idea that we need to address the frenetic nature of modern news has been around for years.

"Slow news" – a more considered approach to what's going on in the world that takes in the bigger picture – has been talked about since at least the beginning of this decade.

In fact, it's been around so long that it has become positively mainstream. That pusher of rolling coverage the BBC has been talking about using slow news to counteract fake news, and Montgomerie's old employers, the Times decided last year to move to publishing digital editions at set points during the day, rather than constantly updating as stories break. Even the Guardian – which has most enthusiastically embraced the crack-cocaine of rolling web coverage, the live blog – also publishes regular long reads taking a deep dive into a weighty subject. 

UnHerd may well find an audience particularly attuned to its approach and values. It intends to introduce paid services – an especially good idea given the perverse incentives to chase traffic that come with relying on digital advertising. The ethos it is pitching may well help persuade people to pay, and I don't doubt Montgomerie will be able to find good writers who will deal with big ideas in interesting ways. 

But the idea UnHerd is offering a groundbreaking solution to information overload is faintly ludicrous. There are plenty of ways for people to disengage from the news cycle – and plenty of sources of information and good writing that allow people to do it while staying informed. It's just that given so many opportunities to stay up to date with what has just happened, few people decide they would rather not know.