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September 03, 2009


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Ian C. Purdie


I have passed along your excellent opinion piece in the "Independent" to a number of Australian Labor MP's.

Predictably they will respond, as always, with "Australia always fully supports UN Security Council resolutions".

Paul Flynn

Thanks Patrick. Kim Howells has wasted his 20 years in parliament suppressing his real opinions and moving sideways from one junior parliamentary role to another. Always there was a hope of making it to the cabinet. That chance is probably gone for ever. What futility!
Perhaps he will now say something else that is sensible.


The final point you make in your last post Huw is precisely what I regard as the most important.

The British public responded to the atrocities in Iraq (including stealth bombing innocents) by re-electing all the British players.



Your second post is so much better than your first. It is a much better statement of position but does little to explain why you called an MP who opposed our participation in the invasion of Iraq from the beginning and has been calling for withdrawal from Afghanistan for years "belligerent" or "warlike".

Apparently the fact that he is in broad agreement with you is not enough unless he uses your own words to argue the case.

As a member of parliament which is the body that sends your soldiers to war, he is not in a position to be critical of them being in any war unless they act against the rules that are laid down for them.

I am in agreement with you that the deaths and suffering of the people of Afghanistan are not given enough attention.

But nonetheless every life is important and it would be odd of a British MP from the body that sends soldiers into war to not make a point of highlighting the deaths of the people who are doing what is being required of them by the government.

British soldiers should not have been there from the start and should not be there now, but when it comes down to it, we sent them there and I do take issue with your claim that you are more moral than they and that in doing the duty that is required of them they are "criminals" or "terrorist"
Certainly the administrations that sent them there might rightly be labelled with those particular words. Although as they got UN authorisation to invade, what they did to Afghanistan while certainly immoral is not criminal in a strictly legalistic sense.

The immorality and criminality of anything to do with Iraq and Afghanistan reflects onto us all, no more or less on you than on anyone else.
This is a democracy, in a democracy it is not rational to lay the blame on others, it belongs both fully and in equal share to all of us.


In your first post you refered to British troops as "Not yours, not brave and being state sponsored terrorists."

I feel it's vital to grasp the important NETTLE here and direct your anger at the right target.

British frontline troops , better known historically as "CANNON FODDER" are largely derived from working class area's of little opportunity.
During these last Two illegal wars they have yet again been paid a pittance to risk their lives for the supposedly better good of us all.
A soldier is paid to do a job. This job he does and the politics of the war are irrelevant.
You might consider your comments and target the people that organised these acts of barbarism starting with Blair and his mates at the MOD.

The second point of accusing our host of crocidile tears regarding troop casualties is at best wrong and at worst childish.

I know that Paul know's about personal grief and do not doubt the fact that he has the troops and their families interest at heart.

It's strange that you take issue with a man that denied the 3 line whip on Iraq and is probably the most vocal anti Iraq/Afghan war MP in parliament.

You use a quote from warmonger Kim Howells
"I don't think the public are up for it any more."

Let's remember that Dr Kim was as pro war as Tony Blair and George W Bush and this latest statement (if true) is the only sensible thing i have heared of him saying.

Jeremy Birchall

Dear Huw,

Yes, I should expect more from a Labour MP - that is, an MP that historically has a mandate to care about people often unable to care for themselves. Clearly, this need not only apply to either people from their constituency or indeed their own country.

Your argument that Paul Flynn should potentially refrain from speaking truthfully (and I'm not suggesting he's doing this now) in this matter or that because he represents many Armed Forces personnel in his constituency is weak, and one I'm sure Paul would find reprehensible. It's a case of the tail wagging the dog, no?

"That their belief may be wrongheaded is one we might find common cause on..."

Indeed, I should hope so. I want to quote others, so as I don't sound like I'm ranting:

When that audacious and brave Afghani activist Malalai Joya, who knows she will soon be killed by misogynist warlords, says foreign troops should leave immediately, who are we not to heed her call? If one thing has pushed me to where I stand today, nervous, feeling naïve and stupid, guilty too, it is this extraordinary woman.
She ran secret schools for girls, defying the men who want to slaughter female teachers and pupils. She also set up clinics for women who were dying needlessly because they were not allowed to be seen by male medical staff. She got herself into parliament in the last election and confronted the men who were mass murderers. Since then they have been looking to do away with her.
But she still is adamant: "I say to Obama – in my area, 150 people were blown up by US troops in one incident this year. If your family had been there, would you send in even more troops and even more bombs? Your government is spending $18m to make another Guantanamo jail in Bagram. If your daughter might be detained there, would you be building it? Change course or otherwise people will call you another Bush".
A recent worldwide PEW survey found that only 46 per cent of Brits want to carry on. The figure for the US is 57 per cent. The country which most supports the war is Israel. In 2002, six per cent of Americans were against the action. Today that figure is above 40 per cent. Key figures in the Obama administration admit the American people are tiring of this adventure. Labour's Kim Howells senses the same fatigue: "I don't think the public are up for it any more."
It has cost British taxpayers £2.5bn and that figure is expected to rise fast. The inept and ineffable Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth, says it should take one more year while a number of army chiefs think we need to be planning for decades of engagement. Does anyone know really or do they just make up the lyrics as they go along?
So now we have had a dodgy election not worth the "indelible" washable ink on the fingers of voters. Karzai in his dashing gear and aristocratic demeanour is a catastrophic leader – useless, corrupt and an appeaser of those who want to legalise the total degradation of females. The most odious warlords – like "General" Rashid Dostum – are back in business. Hundreds of girls and women self immolate rather than succumb to this surge against them. After eight years their ashes are a sign off, the verdict on an abysmal military expedition. And I am not sure at all I should ever have supported it.
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Independent, 24th August, 2009

And finally:
I haven't got the time to detail my every greivance with the Labour party, please be assured that the links above are entirely in line with my own views on the subject.
In my view, it is incorrect of a British MP publicly to mourn the losses of British personnel as though they were somehow more important or more tragic than the deaths of civilians in Afghanistan or Irag. . It's a facile and old-fashioned view. Is it not, aside from being arguably racist, anti intellectual and very tiring, not exactly the most caring of attitudes?
Before I get assaulted by all manner of military types, yes, I do 'care' about those who have died unnecessarily, as civilians, in the two illegal wars. I'm not weak or soft or a knee-jerk liberal. I just feel that the double act of the US and the UK has, as Harold Pinter says above, removed from these poor people the one thing they had left - their human dignity. Those soldiers from the UK have played an important part in that killing and it's for that reason I have no sympathy with them, have no desire to see them being referred to by Paul Flynn as 'our brave soldiers' and won't be voting for the Labour party ever again.
Incidentally, as you'll read above, latest figures suggest that only 46% of people in the UK are in support of the war in Afghanistan. In my experience, (I'm a young teacher in London), that seems a rather generous figure - I honestly don't know anyone that actually agrees with these two wars now. Especially when you consider the financial cost - £2.5 billion and rising - would have gone a long way with the old Labour Party, wouldn't it?
I'd like to ask you two further questions:
1. Would you be prepared to sacrifice your own children (for suppoposed 'Freedom and Democracy') to the terrors inflicted by UK and US forces, daily in Afghanistan and Iraq? Obama has killed 700 civilians since January by dropping bombs from 'drones'. Not very brave, is it? So, would you sacrifice your childrens limbs, sight, hearing, ability to walk etc? Would you?
2. Do you think the 'brave sacrifice' 'our' 'boys' is making will have the desired effect? Do you imagine for one moment that the Taliban will ever stop fighting them/you? Do you think our foreign policy will actually convince them they're wrong, or do you think it will create generation after generation of people willing to fight?

Thanks Paul, I'm happy to continue the debate.


Paul Wooding

I agree entirely with your assessment of the situation. The more helicopters debate was a knee jerk reaction to a situation which the Gvt and the public thought could be turned round with an increase in brute force and technology. Not so.

You use the Charge of the Light Brigade as a comparison, I would use the trench warfare of WW1. We are sending soldiers on pointless foot patrols into areas that are being rigged with IEDs with seemingly terrifying ease. While Generals and Politicians ponder, the patrols continue and so sadly to the injuries and deaths. No one in command or power seems to have the intelligence – or balls – to put a stop to these manoeuvres until a rationale assessment of the situation can take place.

I can’t believe that the PM cannot see the damage this is doing…if only to his already shot popularity rating if nothing else though I would hope that is a priority way down his list when it comes to our soldiers lives. He needs to act now before another life is lost.

Please feel free to use any of my comments on your blog and not anonymously either, I’m passionate about us not getting dragged into our own Vietnam and it needs more people to speak out, hence why I’m grateful for your comments and continued involvement.

Can you cajole a view of my side to join you? And/or are there some Tories that are as vocal as you? I haven’t found them yet but if so will encourage them to step their game up.

This conflict is one of the greatest scandals of modern history (along with Iraq invasion). Previously it had only cost the UK its reputation and integrity, now it’s costing much more than that.

Best regards



And now stories are floating around about how Eric Joyce and Riichard Dannett are being rubbished by the MOD and Number 10.

Thats a very dangerous thing to do in my opinion - these are respected military people who retain the trust of the general public - unlike government

The comments about the Eric Joyce letter are offensive and Labour won't win hearts and minds with that level of sniping at people who know what they are talking about.

rayner garner

Your contribution to Newsnight was very good but has omitted a very important aspect. That is, most Taliban warriors are very sexually frustrated. In common with most Muslim men, they are unable to have what we in the West would regard as normal sexual relationships with women, until they can afford to get married.
There is no such thing as the normal dating relationships that most adolescents experience in the West. Neither are there alternative means of satisfying these desires. There is no prostitution or homosexuality permitted in such communities.
A man must serve his time as a warrior with such temptations such as alcohol and women forbidden to him. Marriage is a far off option as he has little likelihood of being able to earn enough money to marry until he is in his thirties or much older.
So thus becomes quite clear why Afghanistan has always defeated the West and Russia in war. As they will again. A fighting force who faces death willingly, and a keen desire to experience the delights of rivers of wine, ample food, and the sexual delights of 74 virgins for all eternity. Such a belief is a very powerful motivator for ensuring a constant supply of willing recruits, who face death with equanimity.
Even those who learn from Inmans in Europe have been taught by men who absorbed such beliefs in Muslim countries, and are fanatical for passing on such ideas. No wonder most families of suicide bombers rejoice in the martyrdom of their beloved sons.



If there were enough MPs to do what you suggest they would have done so.
Some have taken longer than others to come around to the idea and many more are still in thrall to their imagination or the government fiction rather than reality.

It is as important now as it has always been that constituents of those who are following party lines on this, whether Tory or New Labour to ensure they advise their representatives what they expect of them.

Also in the coming elections it is vital that those who oppose our actions in Iraq and Afghanistan ensure that those who supported these things are not rewarded, again.

Especially those who seem to have great difficulties recognising "the picture".

 D M

Mr Redwood/Mr Flynn

You are on opposite political parties but seem to share the same views on the Afganistan situation.

Why is it that MPs (who should be representing the people) can't force the Government to get the troops out of Afganistan?

MPs need to improve their image and one key area would be for them to stop acting as little more than vote-fodder for their party leaders.

Surely on this most significant decision of any Government there must be enough MPs of all political parties to seek either a vote of no confidence or a specific vote to get the troops out to stop us fighting a war we cannot win in support of a corrupt and oppressive regime?

What's holding you back?

Chris Long

Finally caught up with your stint on newsnight, Very well put forward arguement Paul. And what surprised me even more is that Paxman must be thinking along the same lines as yourself as he didn't bite back at any of your comments in his normal pushy manner.

Paul Flynn

Thanks George. Sally Clark is the army medic in Afghanistan who treated seven comrades following a Taliban attack, despite having shrapnel in her back.

It certainly sounds like bravery worthy of a VC


And also J O'D,
you say in relation to British troops
"For the benefit of your greater understanding, I do not consider them mine"

You live in a democracy, they are the servants of the elected government, you through your taxes fund their salaries and the tools they use; from their backpacks to their bullets, so in as much as they are any-one's, they are yours.

You state that you believe they are criminals committing criminal actions but if you seek to claim innocence and separation from the actions which have been undertaken by your troops then please feel free to detail how you have sought to prevent those actions and how you have refused to assist in the funding of what you call "terrorists".
Given your expressed feelings I am sure you have made sterling efforts in this regard and look forward to reading precisely what you have done.
I know it will have been difficult, I know it will have brought great hardship upon you (and your family if you have one) but your tone has made it quite clear you are not someone who would shirk responsibilities that your own morals demand of you.
I have no end of admiration for people who have the courage of their convictions as surely you do and are willing to live less comfortable, less easy lives to make a stand, like Brian Haw who has been protesting our involvement in Iraq for more than three thousand days, just let me know what it is you have done and be assured any criticism of your superficially obnoxious statements will surely be tempered or even withdrawn.


J O'D, while some may indeed criticise in general terms individual soldiers in the British army, do you really expect an elected MP who represents a constituency from which members of the armed forces are drawn, to make the kind of statements you make.
Not only would it not be sensible politically, many would argue that the majority of rank and file soldiers and other members of the armed forces believe themselves not only to be serving their country but also that they are trying to better the lives of people in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq.
That their belief may be wrongheaded is one we might find common cause on, but that many of them do believe this and bravely try to achieve the impossible task given to them cannot reasonably be disputed.
Is it not right for an elected MP to care about the loss of life of British soldiers?

Paul is for withdrawal from Afghanistan, he always opposed the war in Iraq.
I have not yet seen his newsnight performance, but from what I know of his stances, I deem it highly unlikely that he was either "warlike" or "belligerent".

I think with your attitude towards British soldiers you will probably find that it is you who are far behind or to the side of the vast majority of the people of this country and the way you convey your view likely to stoke opposition to withdrawal and achieve the opposite of what many would hope to achieve, an end to US led UK aggression in the middle east.
Perhaps that is your purpose.

As to us all paying for the licence fee, well other than those that avoid paying it, that much is true. All of us of course does include Paul although apparently you think that as you pay for your licence fee you should have the ability to try to silence people you disagree with.

Paul Flynn

Thanks for the comments about Newsnight. It was great to have a chance of putting the case against the shared fiction that the Taliban are threatening us with terrorism. I hope Gordon sees sense.

Thanks J O'D.I have never been a pacifist. But I have been opposed to the British involvement in Iraq and in Helmand. I certainly believe that our soldiers are brave. They believe what they have been told.


I have just witnessed your complacent and morally weak performance on Newsnight.
As a pacifist, I am deeply saddened to hear, yet again, the Labour left refer to Bristish soldiers as 'our brave soldiers'. For the benefit of your greater understanding, I do not consider them mine. I do not consider them brave either. I consider them state-sponsored terrorists acting out an illegal and suspect war in a country where there presence is, as you alluded to in your performance, merely increasing anger against UK and US 'forces'.
I do wish you on the  supposed 'left' of the Labour party would wake up and realise that we, the people you purportedly represent, have left you far behind. You are increasingly complacent and my generation is, if anything, more angered by people like you, pretending to have 'our brave soldiers' interests at heart than we are David Cameron's supposed 'poshness'.
Please refrain from your warlike and beligernet tone on the BBC - a broadcaster that we all pay for.


Just a quick email to say well done for your comments on BBC2 this evening, very clear and accurate - you should be PM


Watched newsnight tonight and we were both impressed at your truthful views on the resignation of the minister today. Pity that the government is not as articulate and representaive of the people that you are. Good luck and carry on with your campaign.


Dear Paul
Just seen Newsnight – Good points, well madeo

George Laird

Dear Paul

When Gordon Brown finally opens Number 10 petitions I will asking for support for a VC for L/CPL Sally Clarke, 2nd Battalion the Rifles.

We have heroes in this country in the armed forces, it is time that MP's showed courage in Parliament and end the Afghan mission.

Lots of people are disappointing but she isn't one of them.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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