Just So We’re Clear, Mr Corbyn

Since we’re talking history, Mr Corbyn, there’s a reason I won’t be voting for your party at any point in the foreseeable future. It isn’t just because of your party’s anathema to Scottish independence, or its schizophrenia over nuclear weapons. It’s because your party refuses to come to terms with its crimes.

Yes, Mr Corbyn, you voted against military action in Iraq. I’m not going to commend you for being a compassionate human being and voting against a war which, even at the time, saw mass protests across the UK and much doubt regarding its international defensibility.

As of this posting, the following MPs who voted for the Iraq War are still representing your party in the House of Commons:

Kevin Barron

Margaret Beckett

Hilary Benn

Clive Betts

Ben Bradshaw

Nick Brown

Chris Bryant

(Sir) Alan Campbell

Ann Clwyd

Vernon Coaker

Yvette Cooper

Jon Cruddas

Jim Cunningham

Wayne David

Geraint Davies

Jim Dowd

Angela Eagle

Maria Eagle

Louise Ellman

Paul Farrelly

Caroline Flint

Barry Gardiner

Roger Godsiff

David Hanson

Harriet Harman

John Healey

Mark Hendrick

(Dame) Margaret Hodge

George Howarth

Lindsay Hoyle

Helen Jones

Kevan Jones

David Lammy

John Mann

Gordon Marsden

Steve McCabe

Siobhain McDonagh

Steve Pound

Geoffrey Robinson

Barry Sheerman

John Spellar

Gisela Stuart

Mark Tami

Gareth Thomas

Stephen Timms

Derek Twigg

Stephen Twigg

Keith Vaz

Tom Watson

Rosie Winterton

More than a handful – Alistair Darling, for instance – are members of the House of Lords, and were it not for the Third Option that was the SNP in 2015, countless more like Jim Murphy & Douglas Alexander would no doubt still be in office. Andy Burnham is the Mayor of Greater Manchester. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown remain at large. Alan Johnson, Fiona Mactaggart, Rob Marris, Andrew Smith, & David Winnick only recently left frontline politics. Ann Coffey, Mike Gapes, Chris Leslie, Joan Ryan, & Angela Smith are no longer in your party, but not because of Iraq (which they voted for) – they resigned in protest at your leadership, joining the idiotic Independent Group adventure. Someone who had no qualms over voting for a war against the wishes of the people and against international consensus but couldn’t countenance serving under you isn’t the sort of person I expected to join the party, let alone stay in it. Same with Frank Field, who seemed to have no problem voting with a party which authorised the death of untold Iraqis, but decided only after your election that the party he’d represented as an MP for 40 years was too anti-semitic for him to stomach. Ivan Lewis only left because of controversy.

If you think I’m going to vote for your party knowing that people who voted for this war are still in office – still holding Shadow Cabinet positions, putting themselves forward in leadership contests – while this immense injustice remains unresolved, then you’re a greater fantasist than any of the red tops’ communist-tinged histrionics could design.

Many people left your party in protest over the war. You didn’t. Neither did Diane Abbott, Ronnie Campbell, (Sir) David Crausby, John Cryer, Clive Efford, Kate Hoey, John McDonnell, Graham Stringer, or Jon Trickett, who represent your party in the House of Commons to this day. At least Robin Cook, John Denham, & Philip Hunt resigned their positions, while Clare Short & Brian Sedgemore had the grace to leave when the depth of deception was laid bare years later. I’m not an MP, so I don’t know what goes through the mind of one. But I can’t help but think that if I was an MP, & the party I belonged to led us to an illegal war, I couldn’t bear to remain part of either. How could I, knowing that the blood of countless thousands was on my party’s hands?

People have left my party before. Men & women elected on SNP tickets – John Finnie, Jean Urquhart, & John Wilson – had the gumption to leave the party over the 2012 NATO vote. Still others like Margo Macdonald & Dorothy Grace-Elder left in protest over decisions & trends they disagreed with. I’m not sure what (short of abandoning its support for independence) could make me leave the SNP, but it’d have to be something pretty profound. I respect those who left, just as I respect those who stayed in the party despite voting against it. But there’s a huge difference between voting to be part of an organisation (or having a photo or two taken, for that matter) and voting explicitly for death and destruction without just cause.

Yes, the Thatcher years were terrible, I grew up in them. But much as we’d both wish otherwise, the people of the UK voted for Thatcher. You don’t get to say “Scotland didn’t,” because unlike your party, I don’t believe in the “One Nation, One Vote” paradigm which is dragging Scotland out of the EU against its expressed democratic will. If you think the UK is One Nation, then your nation voted for Thatcher – not the SNP, not the Scots. You can blame the SNP for the fall of Callaghan all you like, while denying any responsibility for your own role in that event. You cannot blame the SNP (who did not recover from the 1979 fallout until 2015) for the 3 elections Thatcher won, or Major’s, & certainly not Camerons’ and May’s.

But at least we Scots had a vote, even if it’s subsumed into a “British” vote where English votes just happen to outweigh all the other nations combined. Did the Iraqis get a vote on being destroyed? Did they have the option of voting against burning their homes to ashes, losing thousands of lives, plunging their economy and society and lives into chaos? They didn’t get a vote. They didn’t get a choice.

When your party starts showing some responsibility for your sins – permitting an inquiry after years blocking one, the deselection & expulsion of MPs responsible, the arrest of Blair & Cabinet Ministers – maybe I’ll reconsider. Anything’s possible. Until then, that People’s Flag you proudly fly is dripping not with the blood of your “martyred dead,” but of the innocent men, women, and children who who died under its shade. I won’t be standing under it.

3 thoughts on “Just So We’re Clear, Mr Corbyn

  1. CapnAndy. says:

    Well Said.

  2. Jacob Benjamin says:

    In a democracy, it behoves responsible media to keep the memory of such things alive. Corporate memory is frightfully short lived.

  3. Geraldine Harron says:

    HOPE: We Can and We Will. Oh dear was this not last years message from the SNP???

What're your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.