Iraq war – we must make amends

Jeremy Corbyn’s statement on the consequences of the Iraq war

“The Labour Party should stand for peace and justice around the world, as it stands for social justice at home.

“But the last Labour government disastrously fell short of those values when it followed US president George W Bush into the Iraq invasion in 2003. Alone among the leadership candidates I opposed that decision at the time.

“As a party we found ourselves in the regrettable position of being aligned with one of the worst right wing governments in US history, even as liberal opinion in the US was questioning the headlong descent into war. 70 years ago we stood together with the U.S. against fascism but our relationship would be better in the long term if we were not regarded as likely to follow the White House without question.  

“The Iraq War was wrong in principle: a foreign policy mistake of horrendous proportions, the price of which is still being paid.

“It has also lost Labour the votes of millions of our natural supporters, who marched and protested against the war.  We turned our back on them, and many of them have either withheld their votes from us, or felt disillusioned, unenthusiastic and unmotivated. The crowd in Hyde Park in February 2003 alone represented, numerically, probably one in ten of all Labour voters.

“Opposition to the war by 139 Labour MPs and the active opposition to the war by many Labour members at least showed that there was an alternative and a determination to keep our values alive.

“That however is not enough.

“The endless delay on the Chilcott inquiry is wrong. But we don’t have to wait for Chilcott to know that mistakes were made and we need to make amends.

“And to win in 2020, Labour needs to rebuild its coalition with those who opposed that war, those that lost faith with us as a result.

“So it is past time that Labour apologised to the British people for taking them into the Iraq War on the basis of deception, and to the Iraqi people for the suffering we have helped cause. Under our Labour, we will make this apology.  

“We also need to think of our members – those who left, or drifted away; and those who stayed but felt let down.

“Let us say we will never again unnecessarily put our troops under fire and our country’s standing in the world at risk. Let us make it clear that Labour will never make the same mistake again, will never flout the United Nations and international law.”

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