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John Rentoul: Left Foot In It

Posted by Eagle Eye
  • Friday, 22 January 2010 at 01:38 pm

Will Straw is a good thing, and his website, Left Foot Forward, has established itself quickly as fast, factual and authoritative. But his views about Iraq and the Labour record are peculiar.

He gave an interview to the London Evening Standard on Tuesday in which he said:

I am especially deeply angry with Blair for being duplicitous about his reasons for taking us to war with Iraq, hiding behind WMDs when he was content to prosecute a war for regime change ...

I am surprised that any Labour supporter should use the word "duplicitous" about Tony Blair, especially when the only grounds for using it seems to be what might be called the Fern Britton Fallacy - that thinking the world is better off without Saddam in power somehow contradicts the case for military action that was made at the time.

I am, of course, not surprised that Straw Jr should go on to say: 

... And also for the unbelievably shoddy way he betrayed my father, demoting him from Foreign Secretary to Leader of the House, especially after my dad had been so loyal.

But let me get this right. Blair was "duplicitous" because he "would have wanted to remove" Saddam in any case (but would not have been able to if Iraq had complied with UN resolutions on weapons of mass destruction), whereas his father is a shining example of unsackable statesmanship because he supported disarming Saddam but did not support regime change if Saddam complied. Even though Blair made clear at the time that, however loathsome Saddam and his sons might be and however much he personally wanted them gone, the policy of the Government was that, if they complied with UN resolutions, they could stay in power.

Straw Sr, incidentally, provides a concise and brilliantly-argued defence of what his son calls "the biggest mistake of his political life" in his submission to the Iraq Inquiry (pdf).

Straw Jr, meanwhile, could reflect on the way the Standard and Daily Mail used his words, including:

Gordon Brown and Tony Blair have been a huge disappointment and let down the Labour Party.

Straw says he was talking about "Labour’s organisation ... and some specific policy areas including the Government’s timidity in relation to the City and the lack of progress in tackling inequality".

Overall: one left foot forward, one foot back.


Fern Britton
tommilleruk wrote:
Friday, 22 January 2010 at 02:17 pm (UTC)
John, I think the argument is that Iraq is better without Saddam Hussein, but would be better still without the collapse of its utilities, civil society, and the extra million or so dead people that have resulted from us putting ourselves right in the middle of highly populated market areas in an extremely dangerous and anti-western part of the world.

The argument, rather than '1 > 2' is '3 > 2> 1'.

Not rocket science... and an opinion that remains completely compatible with Labour Party values and membership.
Re: Fern Britton
indyeagleeye wrote:
Friday, 22 January 2010 at 09:19 pm (UTC)
Agree with you, but there is no need to give any ground to antiwar propaganda on the Iraq death toll, on which I have blogged rather too often:

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