Labour should open its new era by ditching the ‘War on Terror’…..
When we are looking at the ideological ballast we might want to get rid of we could do much worse than ditch the ridiculous ‘war on terror’. This was George W’s pet project which Tony Blair signed-up to with great zeal because it was obviously attractive to his particular mindset and brand of politics – as a cause it perfectly fitted the ‘moral crusader’ edge to Blair and his politics. If you look at it then a lot of the things that some candidates have criticised stem from Blair’s mistake in singing-up for this less than joyous ride. Describing Guantanamo Bay as ‘understandable’ in his recent memoirs (I can’t see the unfortunate inmates sharing this ‘understanding’ ) Blair is obviously unrepentant but our Party cannot afford the same luxury. Obviously, it led to the invasion of Iraq but at home it also led to the invasion by the Blairite state into people’s lives under the guise of protecting people so, when ID cards are disavowed the logical conclusion is to look at what give rise to the idea in the first place.
Consequences from its launch rumble on in the continuing saga of rendition flights and the question of how much the last government knew about the torture of suspects. Here there are serious unanswered questions which could yet harm the Party and also David Miliband if he is elected as its leader. This episode reminds me of a scene from the Thick of it where the hapless Hugh Abbott instructs his aides to shred his parliamentary diaries but not to tell him they are doing it so he can remain blissfully unaware of what is happening. Similarly, the kindest thing that can be said is that David Miliband seems to have done his best to remain unaware of something he knew must be happening and also to keep the British people in the dark.
Before you say; ‘this doesnt matter’ you should perhaps consider the fact that it is precisely this kind of baggage that is going to scare off those disaffected Lib Dems that all the would-be leaders are so desperate to win back. I doubt 1,000 let alone 10,000 of them would return to a Party unable to admit the mistakes made in this area. Mistakes that flowed not just from this or that bad policy move but from the fundamental premise of the ‘war on terror’ in the first place. Admitting the ‘war on terror’ was wrong and pledging to no longer pursue it would be a grand start to a new era for the Labour Party.