I welcome Ian Lucas MP's admission of the Labour Government’s “massive mistake” in going to war in Iraq in 2003 (Leader, Friday 15 July). A war which resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths both directly and indirectly.
A war for which we will be paying the price for many decades to come. However, as a matter of accuracy it is worth correcting an impression Mr Lucas has created in the Press Release which the Leader published, namely that Mr Lucas voted against the Iraq war.
According to Hansard, Mr Lucas did indeed vote against an amendment to the motion to go to war, which was to be welcomed. However when it came to a vote on the actual motion itself, the trigger for war on 18 March 2003, Hansard records show that Mr Lucas abstained from that vote.
To clarify, when the opportunity came to vote against a motion to go to war, Mr Lucas abstained. Furthermore Mr Lucas says that he believes Tony Blair’s assertion that he acted in good faith, a lame excuse by the former Prime Minister to ease his troubled conscience.
Blair took the country to war without due diligence or proper checks and balances; having withheld evidence from his Cabinet; and based on a claim which has not only transpired to be false, but was known to be false at the time because it was a figment of a spy’s excitable imagination that was inspired by Hollywood blockbuster films.
Nothing good has come out of this atrocity. Mr Blair must be held jointly responsible for what has transpired and prosecuted. Ian Lucas and his Labour colleagues had a chance to stop him – and they failed.
Wrexham Leader 15/7/16
THE SUPPORT of Tony Blair for George Bush’s agenda in the Middle East in the run up to the Iraq war was “a massive mistake”, according to Wrexham MP Ian Lucas.
In a speech in the Commons following the publication of the Chilcot report, Mr Lucas described his reservations at the time – which led him to vote for an amendment opposing the Iraq war. He described a visit to the UN in New York and how the political climate in America led to war.
He told MPs: “The then US Government, acting in the long shadow of 9/11, included people with an agenda to intervene in the middle east. They used that context to justify the intervention.“In the immediate post-9/11 period, they made some really bad judgment calls. InIran, moderate forces had been holding sway before 2003. George Bush then made his dreadful “axis of evil” speech, which was part of the process that shattered any chance of a unified response to 9/11.“
The alienation of Iran also had a massive negative impact on the post-war period in Iraq and undermined progress towards reconstruction. It was a massive mistake for the UK Government and Tony Blair to support the Bush and US agenda at that time.
“I am quite certain that Tony Blair acted in good faith. In March 2003, I think he believed, like Hans Blix, that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. I believe that it was through UK insistence that the US agreed to involve the UN as much as it did.
“However, when the UN weapons inspectors asked for more time in March 2003, the allies should have given it to them.
“As Sir John Chilcot concludes at paragraph 339 of the report ‘At the time of the parliamentary vote of , diplomatic options had not been exhausted. The point had not been reached where military action was the last resort.”
Mr Lucas told the House he shared this view – and as a result, voted against the Labour Whip.
He also criticised the Conservatives for failing to scrutinise the then Government, telling MPs: “The official Opposition failed in their constitutional duty to ask the difficult questions and hold the Government to account. It was left to other parties in the House and the Labour Back Benchers to hold the Government to account.
“The failure of the official Opposition to challenge the Prime Minister and theGovernment effectively made his wrong decision easier. This is a big lesson for the official Opposition today.”