Left Out Liberal

A left-wing/liberal look at the UK's General Election of 2005.

Sunday, April 24, 2005


There will be many people willing today's article in the Mail on Sunday about the legality of the Iraq war to be true. I'm holding myself back from believing that they have an entire copy of the Government's legal advice from the Attorney-General simply because it is from the Mail on Sunday. Although they did support the war, they must see the benefits of embarassing Blair and what it can do electorally.

If it is true, it is naturally a scandal but not at all surprising to me and many others who've thought this whole Iraq war has been a catastrophe from start to finish. The news that it might well have been "illegal" is something that numerous international law experts have been saying for some time so it is hardly a groundbreaking moment in the long and appalling history of this whole charade.

But at the very least I hope this makes Iraq return to the headlines. The Lib Dems must use this opportunity to show their passion on this issue and remind everyone that they were the only party to have a principled opposition to it. If they can cause a fuss they can put Blair on the defensive once more. And if they can remind those 1-2 million who went on the anti-war march to vote for the best placed party to represent their views, then they could see a considerable rise in opinion poll results for them.

There are many things this election has not covered. Iraq is just one of them. People may say that this is because no one is interested any more. If that is true, then why has immigration been such an important part of this campaign? It is consistently pretty low down in polls of voter lists of priorities where they are asked open-ended questions, rather than ticking boxes on a closed-list. This is because it's not in the Conservatives' or Labour's best interests to stoke up the Iraq affair. The Lib Dems get very little chance to set the agenda, so now it has been raised by someone else they must take this opportunity and ride it all the way to polling day.

They must also strongly resist the Conservatives' sheer hypocrisy in their attempt to smear Blair over this issue. They wanted the war more than anyone. They do not have the right to criticise Blair over this, but they will get the headlines if the Lib Dems don't stand up and be counted.

In a week's time, the election will be drawing to a close. It's understandable that some smaller parties may not want to peak too early. But this is now the last chance for the Lib Dems. If they drop this now, it will be a serious opportunity missed and they may regret it for generations to come.


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