Discussion Forum
War in Iraq

From Christine Bampton-Smith
Saturday, 17 March 2007

As I write we are approaching the fourth anniversary of the start of what I consider to be an illegal war with Iraq.

There is now effectively a Civil War between the Sunni and Shias. The United Nations has estimated that in this year alone, 34,000 Iraqis have been killed in sectarian violence. A further 21,000 American troops are being drafted into Iraq.During the four years over a hundred British Soldiers have lost their lives, and many more have returned home injured, both physically and mentally, only to receive shabby medical treatment, partly because specialised Armed Forces Hospitals have been shut down.

How much more suffering will take place and how will there be a solution? Can those who took us into the War, Labour supported by the Tories, give us an answer?

Christine Bampton-Smith
Liberal Democrat Councillor
Luddendenfoot Ward

From Coun Susan Press
Sunday, 18 March 2007

My answer is this, Christine. In Hebden Bridge, the Labour Party supports Labour Against The War. Our MP, Chris McCafferty, opposed the war too in 2003 along with about 140 Labour MPs.

I was in London the other week on a demo opposing what's happening in Iraq and the renewal of Trudent. Let's move on. In 48 days chief warmonger Tony Blair will be gone and those of us in the Party who did not agree with the war will be able to vote for a new leader. If Coun Bampton-Smith had gone to the Stubbing on Friday night she would have heard our anti-war Labour leadership candidate John McDonnell MP, also a member of Stop The War Coalition, give a superb, inspiring speech.

Former mayor Coun Stewart Brown has a proud track-record of opposition to Iraq as do all the councillors in Hebden Royd. We are doing our best to get Labour to change direction. Join Labour now and do something positive! Almost 100 Labour MPs opposed Trident last week. Ming and his colleagues were utterly wishy-washy.

From Jonathan Timbers
Sunday, 18 March 2007

The war in Iraq is wrong and disastrous but I wonder on what legal authority Christine believes the war in Iraq is 'illegal'. Perhaps it should be, but I believe that she would struggle to make the point convincingly in a room of international lawyers. Is she suggesting that Blair be tried in front of the ICC and is that a Liberal Democrat policy?

Or is she just another politician indulging in a bit of tabloid rhetoric before election time?

Incidentally, has she anything to say about the Lib Dems new Tory-friendly policy of tax cuts?

From John Beacroft-Mitchell
Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Unfortunately for those of us with friends and family in Iraq, we can't just "move on" as Coun. Press would like us to.

Four years ago the UK and United States invaded a country without UN support. This was backed by the majority of Labour MPs with the support of the Tories.

Since then, Iraq has fallen into a de facto state of civil war, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed or injured, millions of families have been displaced and the whole middle east has been destabilised.

In the four years since the start of the war, the Labour Party (both locally and nationally) has done nothing to depose it's "chief warmonger" choosing instead to fudge the issue with promises of a brighter future under Brown (now John McDonnell (?)) and attend a few demos.

The Labour Party has to accept responsibility for its own leadership or admit that it has no influence over its own policies.

From Joseph
Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Yawn. If I wanted to read a party line I'd buy a newspaper, or post on Gaurdian Unlimited. Seeing as the majority of us would agree with the basic point that the war has been a shocking, shaming and almost unbelieveable exercise, I'm not sure what you are all trying to do. This is a local forum primarily local issues. Councillors are conspicuous by their absence for the most part, except when plugging some party line on a national issue. Come on, prove us wrong and get involved, it might make me want to vote for one of you.

From Coun Susan Press
Thursday, 22 March 2007

Calder Valley Constituency Labour Party has spent the past four years speaking out against Iraq. We have passed at least two resolutions calling on Blair to resign. And Blair is now going three years before he needed to - or wanted to - both because of public opposition to the War but also because of the Party's absolute refusal to let Iraq fade away or toe the line the Government wanted us to.

After the Lebanon crisis last year, he was told by members of the Cabinet that he had to consider his position. He would have gone in September had the MPs who plotted to get rid of him not drawn back from it.

Is Coun Beacroft-Mitchell suggesting we should all have left the Party becaue of Blair? Had we done so, along with the MPs who opposed Iraq, then Labour truly would be finished as a force for peace and social justice.

In saying "Let's move on" I was referring to the Blair-baiting which, as he's going in about two months, is no longer quite the point. John McDonnell, as I said originally, is one of the most principled anti-war MPs we have. And so is our MP Chris McCafferty. That is why many of us support both.

Susan Press (personal capacity)

Posted by Rev Tony Buglass
Saturday, 24 March 2007

The war was badly planned, based on dodgy intelligence, and quite probably pursuing GWB's hidden agenda of finishing off what his Daddy started and was unable to finish.

However, it was not illegal. There were adequate legal grounds for invasion, on the basis that Iraq was in breach of several UN Resolutions which had been phrased to include the threat of resumption of military force following the 1991 cease-fire. We might regret it, and even believe that it was utterly immoral, but it was not illegal.

From Jonathan Timbers
Saturday, 24 March 2007

I think that John and Susan would get on a lot better if they considered the similarity between the current Labour Party and the old Liberal Party.

Firstly, both parties made substantial social reforms (Lloyd George and the state pension, for instance; Gordon Brown and tax credits, the minimum wage and anti-child poverty measures).

Both parties got involved in disastrous wars (Lloyd George and the First World War and Blair and Iraq).

Both parties love(d) global capitalism.

Both Lloyd George and Blair were involved in 'cash for honours' scandals towards the end of their time in the premiership (in fact, the legislation which Blair nearly fell foul of was passed in response to Lloyd George).

There are differences, of course. New Labour has actually done better than the old Liberal Party (which was theoretically more radical on this issue than Labour has ever been) on reforming the constitution, even if the results are patchy. Labour has passed more equality laws too (the Liberals reneged on commitments to give women the vote). The Liberals would never have introduced a minimum wage.

The difference between the 2 parties now is not really one of ideology - Mill replaced Marx in the Labour party's philospophical lexicon, bar one or two ageing outposts of the party, a decade ago. It is because one is in power and the other is not. The differences which may exist are connected with Labour's priority of tackling poverty over liberal freedoms, and the fact that it is forced to put forward realisitic policies because it may govern, unlike the Lib Dems who can say what they want without fear of responsibility.

From David Isaacson
Sunday, 6 May 2007

Not content with the mess they have made of Iraq, the US imperialists and their British allies are now threatening to attack Iran. It is obvious that the US government is committed to regime change in Iran. They want to turn the clock back 30 years to when Iran was their loyal policeman in the Gulf. It is a matter of urgency that we oppose the threats by the American imperialists to steamroller their way into Iran and extend the bloodshed they have imposed on the people of Iraq onto the Iranian peoples.

Meanwhile despite its anti-Western rhetoric, the Iranian government has been busy rigidly following the policies of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The government is in the process of privatising almost all of Iran's industries. And let us not also forget that the Iranian regime also supported the US's invasions of both Iraq and Afghanistan. Contrary to what many in the anti-war movement seem to think, Iran is not an anti-imperialist force.

At present there are increasingly radical movements of workers, students, women and religious and national minorities fighting for their rights within Iran, but they are also adamantly against any US attack.

There is a Calderdale launch meeting of a new campaign (Hands Off the People of Iran) set up to both oppose any attack on Iran, but also to raise solidarity with these radical movements that are opposing the theocratic regime from below. Halifax MP Linda Riordan will be speaking alongside Mehdi Kia, an Iranian exile who co-edits the journal 'Iran Bulletin-Middle East Forum'. The meeting will take place on Friday May 11th, at 7pm, in Halifax Central library. Everyone is welcome to attend and there will be plenty of time for discussion afterwards.

Dave Isaacson,
Hands Off the People of Iran

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