In Iraq, the UK should only provide humanitarian aid – say LabourList readers

22nd August, 2014 8:31 am

What do you make of Miliband?

Since he became leader of the Labour Party, it seems Ed Miliband has faced unrelenting criticism. Whether commenting on his appearance, the way he speaks or how well he poses for a photo, the media is by no means kind to Miliband.

At the start of the summer, Miliband decided it was time to take these criticisms head on. You might remember that his blunt confession:

If you want the politician from central casting, it’s just not me, it’s the other guy. If you want a politician who thinks that a good photo is the most important thing, then don’t vote for me…Here’s what I think matters. The leadership you need and the leadership this country needs is one that has big ideas to change things, with the sense of principle needed to stick to those beliefs and ideas even when it is hard, and with the decency and empathy to reach out to people from all backgrounds, all walks of life. “

This was a bold move and openly supported by 48% of LabourList readers when we asked them about this speech. But three weeks on, we wanted to know, whether you thought Miliband was the kind of leader he proclaimed to be. So we asked – how do you think Ed Miliband is performing as Labour leader?

The answer from LabourList readers is a relatively positive one – 78% of people who answered the survey were, in some way, positive about his leadership. Although when broken down the support for Miliband’s performance shows that only 18% (169 people) stated that it is ‘very good’, and 29% said that he was only doing ‘ok’ (not necessarily a resounding endorsement). But, all is not lost – 31% (290 people) answered ‘good’, which, all things considered, isn’t a bad result.

Meanwhile, those who think Miliband isn’t doing so well are in the minority – 14% (132 people) said he was doing poorly and 8% (77 people) answered very poorly.

All in all, with the general election fast approaching, the result for Miliband could be worse.

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Military intervention in Iraq, more harm than good?

The conflict in Iraq continues to escalate – on Tuesday the Islamic State (IS also known as ISIS) released a video of one of their militants beheading American photojournalist James Foley, who disappeared in November 2012 in Syria.

In response to ongoing atrocities in the region, on the 8th August President Obama authorised air strikes, which continue today. Following the news of the death of James Foley, David Cameron has cut short his holiday to hold emergency talks.

As pressure increases on the UK Government to act, opinion is divided over this issue. Last week Maya Goodfellow argued that military intervention in Iraq would be mistake because it could further fuel sectarian divides in the region. She said that to  defeat IS forces, resistance must come from within the region otherwise long term stability in Iraq will be unlikely – a view also supported by historian Jon Wilson. In response, Stuart Macnaughtan, supported by Gray Sergeant , argued the case for air strikes – he said that there was no other solution given the mounting threat posed by IS.

With this in mind, we asked LabourList readers whether they thought the UK intervene in Iraq, and if so, how? Readers could choose multiple answers, but an sizeable majority – 64% (585 people), thought that giving humanitarian aid was the most effective role the UK could play in Iraq at this moment.

Meanwhile, 40% of people (361 people in total) thought that arming the Kurdistan Regional Government was a wise option, and only 35% support air strikes. Only 19% (176) of people support arming the Iraqi Government. The lack of support for this option is an unsurprising because it is widely understood that throughout it’s term in office the actions of the Government (until last Thursday headed by former-PM Nouri al-Maliki) have  further entrenching sectarian divides in the region.

Most LabourList readers are reluctant to deploy ground troop, with only 10% of people supporting this proposal. This is, arguably, an expected result considering the UK’s history in the region. And 7% (62) said the UK shouldn’t take any action.

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Rail: to freeze or not to freeze

The conversation over rail continues, with reports over the weekend that Miliband was being urged by TSSA General Secretary  Manuel Cortes and Louise Ellman MP to adopt the policy Labour have proposed for the energy crisis and freeze rail fares.

Although, freezing prices doesn’t necessarily solve the problem at hand a substantial majority (61% – 572 people) of LabourList readers supported this proposal. Meanwhile 23% (216 people) of people said that fares should fall and on the other side of the fence, 7% (66 people) said they thought fares should rise.

Amongst all of the back-and-forth arguments over the railways, it’s not surprising that some people don’t know what to think – 9%, 83 people said they didn’t know what to make of this proposal. This is by no means a large number of people but it’s significant and suggests that we should be having a clearer, more coherent conversation when it comes to the railways.


942 people voted in this week’s survey. Thank you to everyone who took part.

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  • swatnan

    Many may have missed it but Moday was Int Humanitarian Aid Day.
    Aid workers the world over are to be commended for their work in relievinh the poverty misery and distrss to many peoples in the world. More often than not these days by civil wars, leading to the massive displacement of peoples across borders. Its largely a self inflicted problem by autocratic Govts who really have no real feelings or connections about the people they rule brutally over. Conflicts like the DRC and Nigeria and Sri Lanka and of course the Middle East. Aid work has now become an industry.Most Aid workers live in their safe compounds away from the misery of the refugee camps; they become slightly disconnected. and hence they get a lot of hostility and violence directed at them. nd questions about whether Aid even humanitarian aid just ptrolonngs the conflicts and misery. TheOverseas Developmemt Institute discussed this on Monday Violence facing aid workers. Some are not trusted because the populations and Govts think they may be taking sides. Some are religious charities with an ulterior motive.

    • markmyword49

      I feel genuinely sorry for those working in the foreign aid field. Whatever they do is wrong for a significant minority in the UK. Plus they are steadily becoming regarded by many of the opposition in countries they work in as “Western” spies. It’s the same with journalists. They are no longer seen as neutral observers reporting facts.

  • justiceminister

    The whole Iraq business is a shambles. Send Blair over to sort out the mess he helped create.

  • robertcp

    There is a good case for military intervention in Iraq now. There was none whatsoever in 2003.

    • swatnan

      You could be right; send in the Turks, Syrians and Iranians to erase ISIS and the Moslem Brotherhood.

      • robertcp

        My main point is that there is a case for intervention that should be discussed. There was no case in 2003.
        I would not put ISIS and the Brotherhood in the same category. The latter won an election and was deposed in a coup. Islamists should be allowed to argue their case in a democracy so long as they do not try to end that democracy.

        • swatnan

          Good point, remembering Hitler was elected democratically, and then proceeded to discard it. We saw a few signs of the Moslem Brotherhood edging towards more extreme Islamic measures; thats why Morsi was desposed and the corrupt brutal Army took over again in Egypt; now there’s a pretend Democracy under Sisi. You couldn’t make it up.

          • robertcp

            I agree.

  • leslie48

    Labour has to take a ‘moral lead’ on the ISIS slaughter of people / genocide and as a ‘government in waiting’ we cannot be expected to be ignoring the many cries for help. We have the air power with our Tornadoes in the Middle East region; watching TV last night showing the bodies of the gassed Syrian children a year ago is bad enough for some of us in the Labour movement to bare as we believed this was an event we should not have retreated from in the 21st century ; the ‘good Samaritan’ as the Christian Church reminded us this week is obligated to act and it is not always cost free. This will get worse. It did in Syria where ISIS was born. Weakness always rewards the barbarian.

    • Doug Smith

      ISIS would be even stronger if Assad had been taken out.

      • leslie48

        One view is that earlier intervention and support in Syria when the early pro-democracy and Arab Spring supporters were fighting Assad would have prevented the descent into hell which it has became. The gassing of his citizens, the bombing of his own people and the arrival of ISIS – I was with Obama and France and our Foreign Secretary Hague we should have acted earlier.

        • Nick London

          Intervention on Syria against Assad would have been a completely different kettle of fish. We would have been bombing a sovereign state and picking sides in a civil war. We would have created a power vacuum into which the forces battling Assad would have fragmented and fought each other just as they have done. The outcome would only have been worse. I was in the US when Kerry was facing congressional hearings on the proposed bombings. Their mantra was “there is no al Qaida in Syria”. Well if that is right it is only because the thousands of Isis fighters who were already there at the time have killed them too. We would have armed and provided air support, directly or indirectly to Isis. Thank god we did not.
          Iraq is fundamentally different. We have a debt. We are supporting a sovereign state against an invasion. We are challenging a poisonous ideology. We are saving lives. If we can provide air support to armies from Iraq and the Kurdish homelands who can use that advantage to destroy these fascists we should do so. Labour is confused. It needs someone to provide clarity of thought. Where is our labour leadership?

          • leslie48

            While I accept some of what you say I still believe serious mistakes were made over Syria which will/have rebounded upon us. The sheer degree of suffering and loss of life by the protesters already in the earlier years of the conflict were massively high and the loss of children & women especially barbaric as Assad used jets against his own people in their homesteads. The use of chemical gas in 2013 to kill his *own citizens* not just rebel fighters including children broke all UN & humanitarian international laws and gave legitimacy to the US, France, Denmark etc., and UK govt for intervention. Obama was correct a line had been passed.

            Unfortunately and partly led by our own Labour MPs a ;hands off’ approach was adopted. Given some legitimacy by hypocritical rags like The Independent which claimed Putin would help sort out the problem. Historically Putin and Assad were then in the ascendancy. A Chamberlain moment.

            Everything got worse including many European Muslims seeing an indifferent world to what was of the greatest crises of our century. The extremists entered the void being seen as rebels who would take on Assad. We in the west chickened out as the abominations worsened with the exception of bringing in the chemical gas resources used by dictator Assad.

          • Nick London

            We aren’t going to agree on Syria I am afraid. It was a proposal for regime change under the beard of humanitarian intervention. It’s a failed policy approach. As in Iraq and Libya it would have led to more dead not less in my view. I am no fan of Putin but he achieved more than we would have done in Syria. Where would those weapons be now I wonder if we had started bombing? I believe we have to make the case for intervention in Iraq now by distinguishing this situation from earlier mistakes. There are plenty of reasons to do so.

  • DRbilderburg

    Why are those mega money Gulf states providing assistance

    • Doug Smith

      Doubtless some mega money from some Gulf states is being channeled to ISIS.

      According to an opinion poll, reported by the Middle East Monitor (21-8-14), 92% of young people in Saudi Arabia support ISIS.

      There is much more instability to come. The catastrophic Blair-Bush legacy will afflict us for decades.

  • Grouchy Oldgit

    What’s going on is appalling, but Britain does not have the duty or ability to get these people to co-exist peacefully. Britain should play a proportional role in implementing whatever the UN decides is the best way to peace, no easy task. But going it alone or with US will likely make matters worse, intensify anti-British feeling, and radicalise more young Moslems here.

  • Nick London

    Reminding everyone that the Iraq war was wrong, saying we are not the world’s policeman, calling for Blair’s indictment. Casual racism about letting Muslims get on and kill each other. Saying even humanitarian aid needs to un mandated. ‘Haven’t we bombed Iraq enough?’. I have heard all these given as reasons on labourlist for non intervention over recent days. This is a mess we helped create. You all see what is happening and yet apparently a majority of readers of this list want non intervention? What happened to our guts? You know in the 30s people were drawn to socialism because we socialists were prepared to fight the rise of fascism. If we can help make this better we should intervene. Our party leaders should be ashamed of their silence and lack of any leadership on this issue.

    • leslie48

      Agreed entirely – you know when an extremist army like ISIS takes out opposing soldiers. citizens and butchers several hundred of them as the other day you cannot defend isolationism any more. I hope I do not have to resign from the Labour party on this but I cannot subscribe, denote and defend a party which prevaricates and looks for political division with the UK govt., Douglas Alexander is not inspirational, remains unknown, too clone-like – talking political speak not humanity.

      • Nick London

        Douglas Alexander has shown himself to be without an original thought , or so it would seem from his statements on this site. Desperate to avoid sticking his head over a parapet. And where is ed? Very depressing.

  • Nick London

    No, I’m not a soldier. I believe in public healthcare too but wouldn’t want to deliver a baby. I would be awful at it. And my point is that parliament should discuss the correct response.

  • Hugh

    Does that mean if you oppose military action you have to be prepared to be murdered by islamist fanatics?


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