Monday, March 16, 2009

Majority 'want Iraq war inquiry'.

Six years after the start of a war which appears to have been fought for a lie - to disarm Saddam of WMD which turned out not to exist - one really has to wonder how long this Labour government can hold off from having a public inquiry.

And that's before we get to the Downing Street Memo and Goldsmith's ever changing rationale regarding the wars legality.

Public opinion is now ridiculously in favour of an inquiry.

The survey, conducted by ComRes for the BBC, found 72% of those questioned believe there should be an official inquiry into the UK's role in the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

This figure increases to 81% in the 18-24 age group.

Last year the government defeated Conservative attempts to force a public inquiry, saying it would be a a "diversion" for UK troops serving in Iraq.

And in February Justice Secretary Jack Straw vetoed the publication of minutes of cabinet meetings discussing the legality of the war in the run-up to the invasion.

There were fresh calls for an inquiry last week after documents showed that intelligence chiefs were urged to make a key dossier on the Iraqi threat as "firm" as possible.

I suppose one of the reasons that this Labour government are resistant to an inquiry is that they suspect that their days in office are doomed the moment anyone seriously starts to look at their rationale for war and the lies which surrounded this misadventure.

And that's before we even get to the subject of whether or not a war fought outwith of Article 51of the United Nations Charter is legal.

It's been a tawdry business from start to finish and it's somewhat reassuring to realise that the vast majority of the British public haven't been fooled at all by the government's reasoning as to why an inquiry can't take place until the war is over.

And the survey also reveals that public skepticism includes the war in Afghanistan, which has always been the easier of the two wars to sell.

The BBC poll suggested 60% of those surveyed were unconvinced by the government's arguments in support of keeping a British military presence in Afghanistan.

Some 35% were convinced but only 8% said they were "very convinced". In the 25-34 age group those unconvinced dropped to 49% but increased to 70% for those aged over 65.

While the results show misgivings about the British role in Iraq and Afghanistan, 91% of respondents felt serving in the British armed forces is a job to be proud of.

I am very pleased at the overwhelming support shown for the troops in that last result, even as there is an overwhelming lack of support for the tasks to which they have been assigned.

We all understand that soldiers do not get to pick and choose where they are sent and this poll clearly shows that it is possible to support the troops whilst firmly disagreeing with the war.

Indeed, I suspect one of the reasons that so many people want an inquiry is so that we can make sure that the young men and women who serve in our armed forces are never again sent into danger without there being a very, very good cause.

In the case of Iraq, that good cause simply never existed. And, it is for that reason that Labour are so reticent about having an inquiry.

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