Tory backtrackers sound ludicrous

THERE is nothing more ludicrous than Conservative MPs now lining up to attack the war in Iraq - it was their support in the House of Commons that gave the Government its majority for the gung-ho adventure in the desert which it has proved the disaster many of us forecast.

By Graham Dines

THERE is nothing more ludicrous than Conservative MPs now lining up to attack the war in Iraq - it was their support in the House of Commons that gave the Government its majority for the gung-ho adventure in the desert which it has proved the disaster many of us forecast.

Take Michael Ancram, shadow foreign affairs spokesman at the time, who put both hands up for war after Iain Duncan Smith committed the Tories to the regime change that Tony Blair and George W. Bush claimed would bring peace and stability not just to Iraq but the Middle East as a whole.

Nearly four years on, up pops Mr Ancram in the Commons during last week's debate to complain “there was no terrorism in Iraq until we went there”.

Precisely. Yes, Saddam Hussein has been removed from office and we should all rejoice. But there were no weapons of mass destruction found in the clutches of the former dictator and thousands of civilian Iraqis have been killed - not to forget all the allied troops that have lost their lives - in both the invasion and the ensuing civil war.

But these deaths will only be a precursor to the mayhem which will be unleashed in the region should the new Iraqi government flex its muscles and carry out the death penalty on the deposed dictator.

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Mr Ancram started his speech by saying: “I will be blunt: we have spent the past decade umbilically linked to the foreign policy of two American Presidents, and it is time that we had our own British foreign policy once again.”

Not only does that condemn Tony Blair but the Conservative Party's own foreign policy since the days of Margaret Thatcher!

Let me remind him of his words to the Commons on March 17 2003. “We (the Tories) will offer the Government our support in the decisions that must now be made. We will do so because they have reached the same conclusions as us on the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and the legality of taking action. We believe that they are acting in the national interest.”

Essex North MP Bernard Jenkin was shadow defence secretary at the time. He's backtracking fast. “I voted for the war and sincerely believed in that decision at the time. I thought that the world would be a better place without Saddam Hussein, and I still believe that. I also believe that our long-term relationship with the United States is our most important foreign policy interest.”

Now he complains: “A relatively stable, albeit hostile, conglomerate state has been smashed. Far from having created circumstances that cow potential aggressors such as Iran, Syria and North Korea, they are gloating with delight at the current situation. The war has proved to be a classic pyrrhic victory: tactical victory has become strategic defeat.”

A number of senior Tories voted against the war, including Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer who in the same debate last week said: “What a disgrace it is that the Prime Minister of Great Britain finds it possible to appear before an American congressional meeting, but not to appear before the House to give account of the worst foreign policy decision made since the war?”

If only Messrs Ancram and Jenkin had listened to the wise men of their party. Tory votes alongside Labour rebels, the Liberal Democrats and the Nationalist would have stopped Tony Blair in his tracks.

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