With Corbyn at Helm, Labour Party Would Apologize for Iraq War
Twelve years after he voted against UK involvement in the Iraq war, Labour Party leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn has said that if elected, he will apologize to the British people for the “deception” in the run-up to the 2003 invasion and to the Iraqi people for their subsequent suffering.
“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,” Corbyn wrote in a statement to the Guardian.
With him as leader, he said the party “will never make the same mistake again, will never flout the United Nations and international law.”
The Guardian notes: “This effectively rules out Labour under Corbyn from supporting David Cameron’s government in a proposed House of Commons vote to expand to Syria the current UK air strikes in Iraq against Islamic State.”
Polls continue to show Corbyn, whose surging candidacy is seen as a backlash against what Guardian columnist Seumas Milne described as “a disastrous austerity regime,” in the lead.
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“Corbyn represents a break with City-backed austerity and a powerful commitment to public investment,” Milne wrote on Thursday. “Add to that his opposition to Trident renewal and endless British warmaking, and the challenge he represents to the establishment consensus is obvious enough.”
Earlier this month, Corbyn suggested former Prime Minister Tony Blair should stand trial on charges of war crimes if the evidence suggests he broke international law by sending British troops into Iraq. “It was an illegal war,” Corbyn said. “I am confident about that.”
Blair, who has been strident in his opposition to Corbyn’s candidacy, did not apologize when he gave evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry into the war in 2011, issuing only an expression of regret for the loss of life. Former Labour leader Ed Miliband, whose resignation spurred the current leadership race, did not apologize either, though in 2010 he described the war as “wrong.”
Meanwhile, as Common Dreams reported at the time, the former adviser to president George W. Bush, Karl Rove, also refused to apologize in April when pressed by a U.S. Iraq war veteran at a speaking event.
In his statement, Corbyn said: “As a party, we found ourselves in the regrettable position of being aligned with one of the worst right-wing governments in U.S. history, even as liberal opinion in the U.S. was questioning the headlong descent into war.”
Ballot papers were sent out on August 14; voting can take place by post or online. All ballots must be returned by September 10, and the result of the vote will be announced on September 12.