David Miliband is wrong to sweep Iraq under the carpet…
Two Labour leadership candidates today distinguished themselves by showing some candour over the issue of the Iraq War and a third, David Miliband made me feel personally vindicated by yet again showing why he is the wrong choice to lead this party. Don’t fool yourself that Iraq doesn’t matter because British troops are out; it matters for a few reasons:
1) The British public feel that they were duped into supporting the war and I believe this sense of grievance is largely justified. Although I believe that Tony Blair was sincere in his belief he was acting in the interests of the greater good I also don’t doubt that, armed with that conviction, Blair would and actually did result to conscious duplicity. People have long memories for this kind of thing for understandable reasons and they haven’t forgotten especially as they still are fed pictures of another British military engagement daily.
2) We are still in Afghanistan and people don’t like that and, frankly, Iraq is a totem of everything they deem to be wrong with these kind of ill-judged interventions. Again I have nothing but sympathy for them here and if Labour is seen to be ignorant of the lessons of this major event how can it apply the lessons we should have learned to our future role in Afghanistan?
This is the problem with David Milibands injunction we ‘should just move on’; to be blunt is its ignorant of peoples legitimate grievances and this is exactly why Iraq as an issue is at the crux of ‘reasons why Labour lost’. We didn’t listen to the objections over Iraq and certainly in the leaderships case we still largely don’t in the case of Afghanistan because as a Party and a government we were too sure of our own sense of moral self-righteousness to open our ears. People haven’t moved on (I have had it raised to me in telephone canvassing for *local* elections) and there is a reason why they havent.
If this ignorance is going to be true of David Miliband’s general approach (and I rather fear it is) then I feel totally justified in saying he is unfit to lead. In the case of the ‘Ed’s’ [Balls and Miliband] maybe their candour is a little hollow but then again their admission of an error now is still welcome and shows they are actually viable as candidates to change this party as opposed to David who wants to ignore the tricky things and in doing so makes himself a force of inertia. It would be nice to see them now go onto question the entirely flawed concept of ‘liberal interventionism’ which has underpinned both the illegal invasion of Iraq and also the costly and counterproductive quagmire in Afghanistan.