Five years ago, the Labour Government led Britain into the Iraq war in Iraq. The Conservatives were their cheerleaders. Labour and Conservative MPs attacked the Liberal Democrats for our opposition to the invasion. It is now clear that the war in Iraq and its occupation were the worst foreign policy decisions taken by Britain in living memory. 175 British troops have lost their lives, £7 billion of our money has been wasted, and an estimated 600,000 Iraqis have been killed as well. All to support George Bush.
Of course I had no sympathy for Saddam Hussain. I made my first speech opposing him in 1975 when he was already carrying out attacks against Kurdish civilians. I was ashamed when our govenment supported him in his attack on Iran. But that is no excuse for going to war almost certainly illegally and certainly on a false prospectus. The Labour and Conservative parties both owe this country an apology. The threat from terrorism has gone up not down as a result of this ill-fated foreign policy adventure. The remaining British troops holed up at Basra airbase are not serving a useful purpose and should come home. Our troops in Afghanistan are over-stretched and more threatened because of the Iraq shambles. There should be no delay in holding the planned Inquiry into the whole sorry venture. And no punches must be pulled. The country deserves no less.