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Monday, January 25, 2010

Liberal Democrats poised to gain from Iraq Inquiry

This morning's Times speculates that it is the Liberal Democrats who stand to benefit more than any other party at this year’s general election from the fallout of the Chilcot inquiry. They say:

As the only one of the three main political parties to have voted against the war in 2003, the Lib Dems are best placed to appeal to voters who deserted Labour in the 2005 election because of the Iraqi invasion and remind them of their defined stance.

Labour strategists concede that there is a risk that voters who deserted Labour in 2005 could be prevented from returning to the fold by the Chilcot inquiry. There are particular worries in seats in larger cities, especially London, with a high proportion of middle-class, dual-income families, often living in suburbs, who work in public services.

“Typically they will be the head of department in a school and to a man and woman they deserted us at the last election,” one Labour strategist said. “It is not at all clear what they will do and whether they will listen to the case that this election is about other issues.”

Surprisingly perhaps, Labour detects signs that British Muslims are more likely to forgive the party for its Iraq past. In general, Muslim voters are less well off than the first group and, say Labour campaign chiefs, more open to the argument that they will lose out under a Tory government. Seats such as Birmingham Hodge Hill, held by Liam Byrne, will provide a fascinating answer to the question of whether fear of cuts to public services outweighs Iraq. Perhaps the best hope for Gordon Brown, as allies privately admit, is that voters see Chilcot as a “Tony Blair thing”. This week, and the former Prime Minister’s performance, is likely to be critical in settling that question.

The paper concludes that Gordon Brown is taking a calculated risk in giving evidence to Chilcott, but had he not done so, he faced giving the Lib Dems an easy way of keeping the issue open throughout the election campaign.
You/they could be right.
Nick Clegg is on the right tack (re Iraq).
So is that what its all about? Electoral gain? Who is worse - the party that fosters war or the party that turns war to political advantage?
No it is about finding the truth as to why we went to war despite the evidence, why we were lied to and why tens of thousands of people died as a result. The Liberal Democrats have taken a principled stand on this throughout and have been consistent in their position. We did not do that for electoral advantage but because it is the right thing to do. All I have done is to report a journalists view that this might have electoral ramifications. That is a side effect not the reason for our position. We are not all like New Labour.
The Lib Dems' stand is no more principled than that of Plaid, the Greens, the SNP or any other party that opposed the Iraq War, or any Labour or Tory MPs that opposed the war.
But it IS principled!
That is the point.
It IS a matter of principle which Plaid, the Greens the Lib Dems, the SNP and those opposed to the war support.
It is those who led Britain into war under dubious pretences who are unprincipled and that should be the findings of the inquiry.
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