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Ed Miliband tried to persuade against Iraq


9:10 am - January 10th 2012

by Éoin Clarke    


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The rights and wrongs of the Iraq invasion are more of an historical debate now than a piece of current affairs, but I am moved to write this piece after feedback I received at the weekend from 65 former Labour party members & voters (here) who had quit the party.

The number 1 reason voters deserted the Labour Party based upon the 65 responses I received was the Iraq war.

I wonder if revelations that Ed Miliband attempted to prevent the war in Iraq will cause any former party voters to rethink? 

The release of the Chilcott Inquiry’s findings are imminent, and it was during the course of research for a piece I am writing on that that I came across Mehdi Hasan’s piece (here).

I came across a piece by Mehdi’s by chance, and it is one that I had not seen before (which surprises me in itself), but it is interesting because it argues that Ed Miliband tried to persuade Gordon Brown to prevent No. 10 from supporting the March 2003 Iraq Invasion.

Medhi argues that Ed rang up Gordon Brown from Boston and attempted to dissuade him.

Ed Miliband was not an MP at the time, but he did use his first speech as leader of the Labour Party to apologise for the Iraq war and condemn Labour were wrong to support the invasion of Iraq (here)

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About the author
Eoin is an occasional contributor. He is a founder of the Labour-Left think-tank and writes regularly at the Green Benches blog.
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Reader comments


Oh dear.

The number 1 reason voters deserted the Labour Party based upon the 65 responses I received was the Iraq war.

And the millions of voters who didn’t respond to you said…

a close friend and former colleague of Ed Miliband tells me that he has no doubt whatsoever that the shadow energy secretary opposed the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

I think you’ll find that, in any court of law, that evidence would be thrown out as hearsay.

If he was so opposed to the war, why did he not say so publicly?

Because he had personal ambition and lacked all principle?

Even though his public stance might have helped prevent the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people?

Whatever way you want to spin it Ed does not come out looking good.

That’s only the *main* reason, Eoin. There are plenty more. Dozens, in fact.

5. sackcloth and ashes

‘a close friend and former colleague of Ed Miliband tells me that he has no doubt whatsoever that the shadow energy secretary opposed the invasion of Iraq in March 2003’.

Right, first things first. When Mehdi Hasan calls Miliband ‘the shadow energy secretary’ it’s a dead giveaway that the story is fake. Ed Miliband was at the time a Special Advisor at the Treasury, and was also on a sabbatical at Harvard.

Secondly, if he was against the invasion of Iraq, then why did he not resign as a SpAd? And how come the only record of his fervent opposition was a quiet little phone call to his boss?

This is weak spin, and you have to be an idiot (or Hasan) to believe it.

Éoin Clarke

Which just goes to show even members of the Labour Party don’t listen to him either…

“If he was so opposed to the war, why did he not say so publicly?

Because he had personal ambition and lacked all principle?”

You’ve inadvertently hit the main reason labour is fucked for another decade. Labour can only ever recover once it has a leadership of principled people with personalities. It is currently lead by careerist drones who chose either brown or blair, and I can’t think of any realistic potential leader amongst its senior ranks that isn’t one of either. The main reason for that being any non-careerist with principle would have left in 2003, or at a minimum had their development thwarted and therefore at most be an anon backbencher with no ministerial experience. The result is a leadership plagued with two sets of groupthink (blairites V brownites), a lack of confidence, and as a result has an inability to develop a coherant strategy for the present or future.

At least if you are Welsh or Scotttish you have an alternative…..

8. Dick the Prick

He ‘tried to persuade against Iraq’ so he couldn’t even just persuade against it? Is he so wet that he didn’t even know his own position? Gadzooks.

And how did you draw this sample of 65 ex-Labour members? People who read your blog – isn’t that going to be a little biased? And, as we know, political party members aren’t representative of the voters: Labour members will be further off to the left than the Labour-voting public (and Tory members similarly off to the right).

If you think you lost the last election because of the Iraq war, you’re deluded. If you think the way to win back ex-Labour voters is for shiny bright leftie Ed to paint himself as the man who put in a phone call (wow, such courage! How did Blair not crumble?) to call the whole thing off, you’re deluded.

Having a party leader who has a mostly clear conscience on Iraq is a definite plus. I think in many ways Tony Blair was a very good leader of the Labour party, but he still fully deserves to hang as a war criminal for Iraq alongside Bush.

Blair was a thoroughly bad PM as well as a bad leader of the Labour Party for many reasons besides the invasion of Iraq. The Labour Party lost four million votes with his leadership between the elections of 1997 and 2005, as well as half the membership. Prescott, whom he kept as his deputy, was a disgrace. In the last Parliament, more than half the MPs had to repay expenses because of lax rules introduced while Blair was PM.

PMs who start off by staking out their intention to provide “strong leadership” run counter to the grain of the Labour Party which has traditionally leaned against authoritarian trends in government. In retrospect, that comes across as even worse when we admit that the financial crisis was caused by the failed regulation of financial services.

Blair was more interested in tripping around the world than making sure of better public services at home for the public money spent and a more equitable distribution of income. Blair’s Third Way quickly became bad joke once its provenance going back to Mussolini was uncovered.

12. Rob the crip

Nope it will not, he did not vote for the investigation did he because he was backing the new labour leader Brown. I left labour because if that was a socialist government it made Ted Heath the new labour guru

The Iraq war was the easiest by a mile for people to oppose; in three decades of political activity, I have never seen one so easy to oppose. I never encountered anyone who actually supported it.

I know lots of people in the Labour Party who openly opposed it, arguing against it at meetings, on the street and anywhere else they could get a hearing.

Miliband Minor allegedly makes a telephone call to Brown — and that’s it. Feeble, very feeble.

In 10 years’ time, you’ll be telling us that he phoned someone or another saying that he wasn’t really too keen on all these Tory cuts.

These efforts to puff up the second most useless character* in British politics are pathetic.

* First prize goes to Nick Clegg, of course.

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  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Ed Miliband tried to persuade against Iraq in 2003 http://t.co/NlawVpyt





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