Saturday, May 22, 2010

Ed Miliband: Labour's catastrophic loss of trust over Iraq.

Ed Miliband, whilst making his bid to become Labour leader, has said what no other Labour politician has so far said; that the war in Iraq led to "a catastrophic loss of trust in Labour".

Ed Miliband's remarks on Iraq mark him out from his brother, David, and Andy Burnham, both candidates in the leadership contest who voted for the war. Ed Miliband was living in the US and was not yet an MP at the time. "I was pretty clear at the time that I thought there needs to be more due process here," he said.

"As we all know, the basis for going to war was on the basis of Saddam's threat in terms of weapons of mass destruction and therefore that is why I felt the weapons inspectors should have been given more time to find out whether he had those weapons, and Hans Blix – the head of the UN weapons inspectorate – was saying that he wanted to be given more time. The basis for going to war was the threat that he posed.

"The combination of not giving the weapons inspectors more time, and then the weapons not being found, I think for a lot of people it led to a catastrophic loss of trust for us, and we do need to draw a line under it."

It's interesting that Miliband saying this should even be news, but then one realises that every Labour politician is still pretending that this was a war waged with the best of intentions and that Tony Blair resigned whilst still refusing to ever apologise for the worst foreign policy intervention since Suez.

Although, to be fair, even Ed Miliband is not going far enough in his condemnation, and is still pretending that this was a somewhat noble exercise.
He said he did not think Britain went to war for the wrong reasons, and said he was not an opponent of liberal interventionism. "It has its place," he said. "History will judge the outcomes for Iraq and that is important, but I think it is just clear to me because we went to war on a particular basis and when that basis turned out not to be correct even apart from the people that were against the war in the first place, that caused a big loss of trust for us: what I am not saying is that the war was undertaken for the wrong motives but what I am very clear about is what my position was at the time and the way I look at it in retrospect."
We did go to war for the wrong reasons. Bush and the neo-cons wanted to remove Saddam. And, to facilitate that ambition, they came up with the justification of WMD.

But that's all it was, a justification.

Blair liked to tell us at the time that if we could see the evidence which crossed his desk that we would make the same decisions as he was making. But that was bullshit.

Blair's problem was that he made a decision and then set out to find the evidence which would justify that decision.

So, whilst it's welcome that a person running for the Labour leadership finds fault in the Iraq war, Miliband goes nowhere near far enough in his condemnation of what has taken place.

He is still attempting to portray this as a noble misadventure. It was nothing of the sort.

And, if Miliband really wants to put some distance between himself and his opponents, he would do well to stop talking about this campaign in the language which they insist upon.

He's right when he says that the Iraq war led to "a catastrophic loss of trust in Labour", but he's taking us for fools if he thinks he can write this off as a war fought wrongly, but with the very best of intentions.

It was nothing of the sort. And the fact that a million people marched through London in an attempt to stop this war shows that many of us have always understood that point.

The way to regain trust in Labour is to stop this bullshit.

Miliband is acknowledging that the war led to "a lack of trust", but he is falling way short of saying that it was a catastrophic mistake which should never have taken place.

Click here for full article.

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