Articles about ‘International’
The Iraq Inquiry
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.
On the eve of the Chilcot Report
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.
* Letter to Tony Blair: 12 September 2002
* Speech in the House of Commons: 24 September 2002.
* Speech in the House of Commons: 11 March 2003.
Remembering Jacob Billauer on Yom HaShoah
Some years ago I was approached to become a “Guardian of the Memory”. Established by Yad Vashem, the world centre for Holocaust research, the idea is both simple and powerful.
There were 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. 1.5 million of them were children. The Guardian of the Memory project recognises that each one one of those who died has a right to be remembered by someone to ensure they will never be forgotten nor their existence denied.
Like me, Jacob Billauer was an MP. He was born in Warsaw and his father’s name was Moises. We know Jacob was married but we don’t know the name of his wife. We do know that, prior to and during World War Two, he lived in Lodz, Poland. Jacob Billauer was murdered. He was one of the six million.
We know about him because his niece, Ida Karpel, lodged a page of testimony with Yad Vashem. Every year I remember Jacob Billauer on Yom HaShoah, the annual Jewish Remembrance Day for those who died during the Holocaust.
Today is Yom HaShoah and today I remember Jacob Billauer.
You can also become a guardian of the memory of one person who died in the Holocaust. Find out how here http://guardianofthememory.org/
What is wrong with friends speaking frankly to each other?
Leave campaigners have been trying to tell us for months that if we leave the EU, everything will carry on as normal and there will be nothing but sunshine. When visiting the UK last week, US President Barack Obama told us it isn’t as simple as that. No surprise then that the same Leave campaigners went into overdrive about the US bullying us and that this was an unreasonable intervention.
Anybody who actually listens to what Obama was saying will know that he came to visit as a friend and spoke as such, doing so frankly and with honesty. No threats, no bullying, just frank advice. This is absolutely a question for the British people to decide on. But are we really saying that an international public figure can’t express honest opinions and share advice with a close friend and ally?
The core of the argument the President was making, though, is that we can make a lot more out of our relationship with the US and the rest of the world if we are part of the EU. That advice, through all the fuss and frustration, is thought-provoking. If we have confidence in ourselves as a country, as indeed we should have, why can’t we be the leaders in Europe rather than constantly trying to get out and losing influence as a result? We can’t continually engage halfheartedly while expecting the perfection and benefits of full engagement.
Listen to my short interview from 8.27 onwards on BBC WM Radio here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03qdz9f