Labour leader Ed Miliband received further vindication of the stand he took in the run up to his election as leader of the party when he said that the Iraq War was wrong. YouGov have published new research that reveals a decade after the war, a majority of the country (some 53%) now believe that the war was wrong. They also believe that the war has increased the risk of a terrorist attack on the UK. This is a finding the Ed Miliband and the Labour Party need to be making much of as William Hague prepares to potentially flout international law, by arming rebel groups in Syria, thus throwing more petrol on the fire in that benighted country. The poll also reveals that a fifth of Britons believe that Tony Blair should be charged for war crimes. These results from YouGov come at a time when they open up all of their findings and polling over Iraq during the past decade.
For those of us in the Labour Party who opposed the war from the outset, this is confirmation of what we believed all along. For those who lost family, in Iraq, here and in the United States, the poll will probably mean little.
It won’t bring back the dead.
Ten years ago, and with the support of Ann Black, Christine Shawcroft and Dennis Skinner, we tried on three separate occasions at Labour’s NEC to make Tony Blair pick up the phone to the then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, to ascertain whether the war would be legal under international law. On all three occasions we were either voted down or defeated through the use of procedural devices. There were of course a good many Labour MPs who opposed the war and tens of thousands of Labour Party members up and down the country who did as well. Many went on the 2 million strong march to Hyde Park, the biggest demonstration of its kind in a century. The Iraq War still carries with it painful memories, but we surely want those who opposed it and who left, back in the party.
We need also to ensure that Labour supporters and potential Labour voters know how Ed Miliband has recognised that Labour got it wrong back then.