Friday, 24 April 2015

Tulip, Dawn and War

Prior to Ed Miliband's speech today there had been press comment that foreign policy had played little part in the General Election campaign. Here is Brent we did have a cross-Brent hustings on War, Peace and the Middle East where some of these issues were raised. LINK

'Unintended consequences' of military intervention is as pertinent to Labour as it is to the Conservatives given Blair's intervention in Iraq. What is suprising to me is the lack of comment on Chilcot and the decision to put it on the back burner until after the election. Surely the findings should have formed a centre piece of this General Election?

At the hustings Tulip Siddiq (Labour candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn)  gave specific undertakings about war and said that she had voted for Ed Miliband precisely because David Miliband was too associated with Tony Blair and the Iraq War.

Dawn Butler was not invited to that particular hustings but was asked about her views at a subsequent election meeting. She said she had been against the war in 2003 and had voted against an inquiry in June 2007 because she thought it would have impacted on the British troops that were deployed in Iraq at the time.

This is the motion that Dawn Butler voted for. Only 8 Labour MPs voted against.
  This House, recognising that there have already been four separate independent committees of inquiry into military action in Iraq and recognising the importance of learning all possible lessons from military action in Iraq and its aftermath, declines at this time, whilst the whole effort of the Government and the armed forces is directed towards improving the condition of Iraq, to make a proposal for a further inquiry which would divert attention from this vital task
Earlier in 2006 she had asked Tony Blair a question in the House of Commons which seemed to indicate some disquiet about policy in Iraq.

Butler was subsequently seen as a government loyalist. She seconded the Queen's Speech in November 2007 and became Assistant Chief Whip in September 2008.

Attending the hustings in Brent there have been a number of occasions when candidates have been asked if they would defy the party line (and the party whips) on issues of principle. It is clearly an issue that concerns local people and the shadow of Iraq, it seems to me, is behind much of that concern as Iraq and the war figured quite large in the Brent Central battle between Dawn Butler and Sarah Teather.

Butler's Green challenger in Brent Central, Shahrar Ali, has claimed in his election material that he, rather than Dawn, is Teather's natural successor as far as issues of war and Israel-Palesrtine are concerned.

Over in Hampstead and Kilburn, Tulip Siddiq is challenged by Green candidate Rebecca Johnson, who has a long and distinguished record in the peace and disarmanent movement and is a member of Women In BlackLINK

Footnote: In case you are wondering, Barry Gardiner, speaking in 2003 after Robin Cook resigned over Iraq stated: 'The Prime Minister has behaved with absolute integrity' but had a different position by 2011 over Libya:  LINK

BBC June 7th 2011
Amid growing unease about Nato's role, MPs are expected to press for a statement on Libya on Tuesday when Parliament returns from its 10-day recess.

Although he voted for the Iraq invasion in 2003, Mr Gardiner says the parallels between the two situations are "ironic".

"Every single argument that has been used over the last eight years to decry what happened in Iraq is being used to justify - with much less justification - what is going on in Libya," he argues.
Despite the frequent military interventions of the Blair years, he believes Labour should be looking further back into its history for its foreign policy principles.

"There is a historic role for Labour that is not being followed through here - as effectively an anti-war party that recognises war is the worst option and something that should be avoided becoming embroiled in at all costs."

And while in no doubt about the nature of the Gaddafi regime, he worries that the current intervention sets a worrying precedent for the future.

"The danger is we are being drawn into a position, in terms of what we should be doing internationally, of it 'does not matter because it is only Gaddafi'."


  1. Tulip's responses at hustings meetings have been quite different depending on her audience.

    At the Brent Stop The War meeting she categorically stated that she would "not be voting to bomb anyone, ever".

    At the Brondesbury Park Synagogue hustings a few days later, when asked if we should intervene in Libya and Syria, she said intervention depended on a number of factors including stated aims of intervention, international backing, etc etc.

    Is she just telling people what they want to hear at the time?

  2. Good heavens. Would she do that?

  3. Next they'll be promising to get rid of tuition fees!

  4. Dawn didn't appreciate an inquiry into her expenses either.