Some of you may recall, back in March, along with other MPs, I was pressing the Government to back-off on proposals which threatened to stop local councils and other public bodies from considering ethical factors when making procurement decisions: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/government-accused-of-launching-attack-on-local-democracy-with-new-council-investment-rule-a6786916.html
Articles about ‘Foreign Affairs’
Three weeks ago it all felt so different. Britain had not yet voted to leave the European Union. The Pound had not plummeted. The Bank of England had not yet had to step in to steady the situation. The Prime Minister had not announced his resignation and the UK’s major political parties had yet not appeared to be in turmoil.
None of us have lived through anything quite like this before and nobody can know what lies ahead. As we now try to navigate a new course through the uncharted waters which lie ahead, though, here are some markers that I believe should guide us.
Read and watch my question to the Prime Minister on the long-awaited publication of the Chilcot Report into the Iraq war:
“May I also ask the House to pause for a minute to remember Robin Cook, who had the courage to speak up against the orthodoxy of the day, and the courage to speak out as a voice of sanity in 2003?
The sequence of events that led to the UK’s participation in the invasion of Iraq shows that where the unshakeability of a political leader’s self-belief so traps him or her in its own logic that he or she cannot see beyond it, the consequences can be catastrophic.
As someone who voted against the war in 2003, I know that the Iraq war did not create from scratch the multiple problems that we see today in the middle east, but it has made them so much more intractable.
Does the Prime Minister agree that at root what the peoples of the middle east want is not so different from what people over here want? They want security, they want respect, and they want to know that they are not treated with double standards by the international community.”
Click here to read my thoughts which I posted on the eve of Chilcot. My post includes onward links to my speeches at the time as well as a copy of my letter Tony Blair expressing my concerns on the issue.
Tomorrow, the Chilcot Report into the Iraq war will finally be published.
Ahead of publication, my thoughts have gone back to how it felt in the House of Commons – and outside – at the time. Sometimes it is easy to get hindsight mixed up with what we knew at the time, as we approached a conflict that was going to have such a profound effect on the Middle East and beyond. It was a conflict which also was to have a big impact on way politics and politicians are viewed today.
So I have revisited some of what I was saying and writing at the time. Here is a letter I wrote to Tony Blair some seven months before the invasion started, setting out some of my concerns about the course he was on. Below are also links to a couple of speeches I made to Parliament – one also in September 2002 and one in March 2003 just a week before the invasion.
I was one of the 139 Labour MPs who opposed the war and voted against the government in the House of Commons on 18th March 2003. Another was the late Robin Cook. British politics is the poorer without him. And we – his friends in the Labour family – particularly miss him at this time of new political turmoil.
On Wednesday I urged the PM to put mechanisms in place so Birmingham and Midlands voices are heard in preparatory talks and negotiations with the EU over Brexit.
Watch it here: