Thursday, January 25, 2007

Labour and Tories talking thru their backsides about Iraq

I'm sorry if anyone is offended by my bluntness but there are days when I absolutely despair at the total ineffectiveness of our parliamentary democracy, when I totally understand the disconnection and disaffection of the British electorate. Today was such a day. I had been invited to the APPG on debt and personal finance "New Year Reception" with my work hat on. I have to say I was a tad put out by the fact that the hooks on which to hang your coat outside "dining room A" were high enough to make a rather "petite" woman like me speculate that this was one of the many indications within the great palace of Westminster that women (and small men for that matter) were not welcome. But this paled into insignificance when I made a slight detour on my way home to listen to the dying embers of the Iraq debate. I pride myself that I have managed to make at least part of every debate about Iraq since 18 March 2003.
I was reminded of that infamous day this evening, having being relegated to the strangers gallery. I asked one of the men in white tights why I couldn't sit in the front, he explained that was the "special" area and I clearly wasn't special enough! So I asked why I couldn't go into the side gallery (where there is no glass barrier), no - you could only go there if you were personally known by your MP. Ooh oh wither democracy?! (actually I am personally known by my MP and that is why I can't get a seat in the unprotected gallery) I recalled that day, almost four years ago now, when myself and a pal nearly pre-empted the Father's for Justice purple paint incident which has lead to us being hemmed in behind a glass barrier. Feeling totally powerless to challenge what was a totally unjust, illegal and immoral war, we had tried to come up with some sort of demonstration, I had been advised that trying to abseil into the chamber was probably a little risky, so Yas and I had decided to protest with red powder paint. This we had ingeniously secreted in our bras (both being rather well endowed in that department - no one noticed!) We had a prime position, front row of the gallery. Around 8pm our plans were scuppered. One of our party, exercised by the speech of John McDonnell leapt to her feet and shouted into the gallery. At which point she was manhandled out. As four security guards surrounded us on the benches Yas whispered in my ear "Sorry Linda, I'm chickening out, I don't want to get arrested I've got 15 unpaid parking tickets!" .............well, that was it and I must admit, being strategically positioned over the Lib Dem benches I had worried about our red paint landing up on Simon Hughes' bald patch............. but, humour aside, my abiding memory of that evening was the sight of Blair and Straw patting each other on the back and laughing having won the vote. Fine, you may believe what you are doing is right, but at least have some dignity about the enormity of your decision and the reality that not only are you condemning many thousands of Iraqis to death, but also your own forces.
So, this evening, nearly four years on, was almost as painful to watch and listen to too. Hypocritical Tories (most of whom lets not forget totally supported this war) banging on about how irresponsible Ming was in setting a date, but still arguing we should withdraw without setting a date............what's that all about? Despicable Labour ministers, trying to get a camel through the eye of a needle and convince us that actually things were so much better for the Iraqi people now. As a mother I am not sure I would share that perspective had my son or daughter been blown up by a suicide bomber, raped and murdered by an American soldier or killed by an American bomb. We are in a total mess, sooner or later we will be chased out of Iraq and any idea that our continued presence is contributing to achieving the peace is Alice in Wonderland. Lets get real shall we? We may have ruled an empire once, but no longer and trying to hang on to the imperialist coat tails of the US is ill judged and amoral. But maybe I am being unreasonable?

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