I wrote this letter to the Herald on 17th of March 2003. I was then, at least still nominally a supporter of the Labour Party, as I had been all my life and as my family had been.
The war against Iraq began three days later on March 20th 2003 with the U.S. launch of the bombing raid on Baghdad - Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Never in my life have I more wanted to be wrong in a prediction, but what followed unleashed unimaginable death and devastation that lasted from 2003 –2011, beyond my worst imaginings - and, in a very real sense, is not over yet.
The long slow death of Scottish Labour began in March 2003, in significant part due to their moral cowardice at that pivotal moment in history. New Labour – the creation of Blair, Brown and Mandelson seemed to die in 2010, but the rough beast is stirring again, slouching towards Westminster.
My letter, published in The Herald, 17th of March 2003.
Seventeen and a half per cent of the UK population are children of 15 years of age or younger. (Source of data – CIA website)41% of the Iraqi population are children o 15 years of age or younger. (Source - CIA website)
Therefore in any “collateral damage” to innocent civilians, 41 children will die or be maimed in every 100. (My source for these statistics - CIA website).
To add to the misery of the Iraqi children already hurt by Saddam Hussein and our sanctions will be an international crime.
Much has been made of Tony Blair’s “sincere conviction” over his stance on Iraq. If sincerity of conviction was the touchstone, the actions of any misguided politician in history could be justified. I hesitate to offer a list of those who pursued policies destructive to justice and life who were “sincere” in their conviction, but produced horrific consequences by their actions.
This coming war is profoundly misconceived and unjust, and Tony Blair is profoundly mistaken to pursue it.
He has wrecked our relationship with our European allies, damaged our international status, weakened our democratic and parliamentary traditions, has perhaps delivered a damaging blow to the Labour Party, and will undoubtedly damage our economy and our security.
As for Scotland’s MSPs supporting Blair's action by their contemptible inaction – don’t look for my vote (Labour for more than four decades) in the May elections.
I now know where the politicians of principle are – a tiny minority in the Scottish Labour group, and a majority in the SSP and the SNP. My advice to the few MSPs of principle left in the Scottish Parliament is to cross the floor now.
Iraq has become the defining political issue of our time, and the question that will be asked of politicians (and all of us) is – where were you when there was still time to stop it?