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Today (3rd of May 2005; two days before a UK General Election), the BBC published a remarkable article. So remarkable, they edited it a few hours later.
It took some tenacity to manage to preserve the original (for the technically minded: I had a copy of the updated one in a separate browser tag, and Mozilla wanted to save the more recently cached version).
It concerns some comments that Gordon Brown apparently made, when the family of a soldier killed in the Iraq war blamed Tony Blair and his government for their loss.
Here is the offending quotation:
'Lessons to learn'
Mr Brown said the Iraq debate had now gone on for more than two years.
"We believe we were making the right decisions in the British national economic interest.
"Of course we have lessons to learn... about the way things were done, like the dossier.
"But at the end of the day we wanted the security of Britain and the British national interest to be advanced.
"Iraq of course being a democracy means the Middle East is a safer place now."
This (assuming it is accurate) is a phenomenal quotation. The first thing Brown can say to attempt to justify this war is that it was beneficial to the UK on economic terms! How he thinks this is an acceptable thing to say is anyone's guess.
After this, his comments descend into lunacy of a better-documented sort.
The point I would like to make is this: Gordon Brown is supposed to be the Labour Government's moderate Old Leftist. To borrow a phrase from the Americans, he is portrayed as the administration dove. Yet we hear this even from him.
This is a party in which nobody with a shred of moral fibre has any voice whatsoever. Those apologist members who beg for re-election in two days time, so that they can influence their colleagues to change their ways (such as Anne Campbell in Cambridge) are having no effect. They just serve to legitimise their stablemates, the proponents of this grim and bloody war. It is important to remove them all.
Only in being defeated, or nearly so, is it possible that the unions might destroy the New Labour power structure, and turn the party into a vaguely responsible one.
Some time soon, I may write a rant about the very fact that the 50 dead British soldiers can receive this level of detailed mainstream media coverage (giving senior Labour ministers opportunities to say such stupid things) but the 100,000 dead Iraqis can't. That's an elementary problem, not brought up often enough, and should be the subject of another essay.
Remember that we were told (among other unbelievable reasons) that this war was for humanitarian reasons: surely the current humanitarian conditions in Iraq thus deserve to be analysed.
But our government puts no effort whatsoever into counting native casualties. By contrast, several third-world countries with next to no spare resources managed to make a fairly reasonable estimate in the Asian tsunami of last December, despite things being much harder.
It's an interesting mental exercise to imagine what could have been achieved in Africa by spending the Iraq war budget on humanitarian aid there.