As promised yesterday, I’ll be setting out in a series of posts the kind of things that could benefit Labour as it looks to counter the new and improved two-headed donkey and move itself back towards power. And no, I am not a member of that or any other party: these are observations from the viewpoint of someone of independent mind.
One event that hung over the 2005 General Election, and benefited the Lib Dems’ vote share, was the military adventure in Iraq. Seats like Manchester Withington and Bristol West – both with an electorate featuring many young professionals and academics – were won as the Lib Dem opposition to the conflict made them the only way for voters to register their dissent.
Since then, we have had a series of enquiries into the war, but the feeling lingers that, notwithstanding the spirited and committed defence of their decisions by Tone, Pa Broon, Big Al and the rest, we shouldn’t have followed Dubya Bush, “Dick” Cheney and the rest of the Neocon rabble into an invasion that the UN declined to rubber stamp.
So my first suggestion is that the new Labour leadership comes clean and admits that the Iraq adventure might not have been such a good idea, that the emphasis on less than sound intelligence was unwise, and that the UK in future will not necessarily say “how high?” when the US suggests that we jump – plus we would be well advised to consult around the EU rather more widely.
What I’m not suggesting is that this would involve anyone being carted off for trial in den Haag, admitting that the legal opinion on which our participation in Iraq rested was suspect (although that is my personal conclusion), or otherwise saying that Nick’s party was right. All that is needed is to say that maybe we should have done things differently.Then Labour might consider this: some voters choose the Lib Dems because of their perceived Liberalism, and Labour’s lack of it in recent years. I’ll look at that next.