Did the Iraq War ‘destroy’ progressive politics?
Luke Akehurst takes issue with Jackie Ashley for claiming that it did in the pages of The Guardian. His premise for arguing against is flimsy to say the least, in fact, it seems to solely consist of the fact that Labour was re-elected in 2005. Of course, they did and they did hold the seats Luke mentions however that is not the whole story and Luke knows it.
Labour won on just 36% of the vote which is less than those who didnt vote (38%). Hardly a ringing endorsement is it? No wonder Blair’s reaction at the time was so contrite and recognised what Luke is seemingly incapable of doing;
“I know too that Iraq has been a divisive issue in this country but I hope now that we can unite again and look to the future – there and here.”
Shall we discuss how the Labour Party shed members by the truckload or move on? The point is that Luke is totally wrong to say that the main problem is the desire of Blair’s critics to ‘personalise’ a policy issue. He cannot avoid the point that this is largely down to Blair himself and his crusader-like zeal in prosecuting the war. I happen to think Luke is right that Blair did feel personally that what he did was morally and legally right. However, it wasn’t and it speaks as much to the capacity of leaders for self-delusion as to Blair’s moral compass. Leaders of strong personal conviction frequently confuse legal and moral correctness with the exercision of their own will.
Luke can’t understand the refusal to ‘move-on’. I can because to me there are broader lessons contained within the Iraq fiasco about the total folly of the whole ‘War on Terror’. For others it is the feeling of betrayal and slightedness that lingers however this will continue too until the above lessons are learnt.