Ed Miliband’s Iraq stand, popularity vote?

29 Sep

“I criticise nobody faced with making the toughest of decisions and I honour our troops who fought and died there. But I do believe that we were wrong.”


Ed Miliband took the first step in supporting his campaign statement that the war in Iraq was wrong by confirming his opinion in his first speech as Labour leader.

He defended his decision to condemn the Iraq war, however I believe it to be “too late”:

“It’s an insult to families right now”, says Rose Gentle, mother of 19 year old Gordon who was killed in the war. (cited BBC website)

In an interview with the Guardian 21 May, he said UN weapons inspectors should have been given more time before the invasion, adding:

“The combination of not giving the weapons inspectors more time, and then the weapons not being found, I think for a lot of people it led to a catastrophic loss of trust for us, and we do need to draw a line under it.” (cited from Channel 4 news online)

However, Miliband did not at this point say that the war was wrong.

“What I am not saying is that the war was undertaken for the wrong motives, but what I am very clear about is what my position was at the time and the way I look at it in retrospect.”

Miliband now defends his actions by claiming that he was “part of a collective responsibility”, unable to speak out more strongly against the war in Iraq.

So, was Miliband’s campaign statement designed to get a clap in the conference hall?

WHY ARE YOU CLAPPING?

Brother and fellow campaigner David Miliband, who voted for the Iraq war, had tongues wagging as he was seen criticizing Harriet Harman.

BBC blogger Nick Robinson claims Alistair Darling, Jack Straw and Andy Burnham, who had all supported the Iraq war, sat stony faced whilst a hypocritical Harman sat clapping.

Seeing her clap, David turned to her and angrily demands to know “you voted for it, why are you clapping?”

Whilst David has spent the week declaring his support for Ed through a constant fixed smile, his face was a picture during the speech as he failed to hide his discomfort.  Perhaps David’s face will answer the crucial question as to whether he will stay in front line politics.

David defends his reasons for supporting the Iraq war,

“I voted for the war in Iraq to uphold UN resolutions about weapons of mass destruction. As I said to [the Chilcott Inquiry into the Iraq war] in answer to the question about whether I would have voted for the war if we had known there were no weapons of mass destruction – no.” (cited from BBC online)

WHAT’S NEXT?

Blogger Robert Halfon argues that whilst Ed’s remarks gained an array of support, it will cause problems for him amongst Blairites who supported the war from years to come.

MP John McDonell believes that many lives might have been saved had politicians such as Ed Miliband spoke up sooner against the war in Iraq.

Maybe the use of the word “we” in Ed’s initial statement has a lot more weight than initially percieved.

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