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May 22, 2010


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"The correct questions is who will best revive our party in the next five years and present the most persuasive case in the television debates in 2015?"

That sounds a bit like a paraphrase of "who's going to be the most electable?"

Y'all got a highly electable leader with Tony Blair and look how that turned out.

My question would be "Who has the best values and the most integrity?" Electability will follow from that.

I still firmly believe that the reason Labour didn't do as badly as they thought they would is because Gordon Brown wasn't as reviled by the public as he was by the press.

Matthew Stiles

On a post at the New Statesman, Mehdi Hassan posits the following:
"Where, for example, does Ed Balls stand on Trident? Is David Miliband a supporter of proportional representation? Would Ed Miliband bring troops home from Afghanistan? Is Andy Burnham, another possible candidate, in favour of the private finance initiative? "
We don't know, do we so we could end up with all the contenders supporting things like Trident, PFI etc. I very much hope that Dianne or John get on the ballot as we need to debate things like that don't we? That's not raking over the past, it's about ideas and policies."


I don't belong to any party Paul and I did not vote Plaid in the election, they seem to have trouble mobilising themselves or in Newport determining arse from elbow, but as you mention them I will point out that as a party, as with the SNP and the LibDems of the time they opposed the Iraq war, because like you and like me they had very little difficulty determining that the government had not made a case to justify an illegal invasion, and the inevitable civilian loss of life that would follow.
Seems it was just a lot of the New Labour party and most of the Tory party who had an identical moral deficit and difficulty in thinking for themselves.
Of course maybe the tipping point for those people was the Irish Unionist parties were in favour of the war. After all what on earth would the previous 30 years have been like without Paisley's inspiring moral authority.

I suppose you may think I am just harping on about this, for some people their issue is fox hunting, for some it's whether grammar schools weren't just the best thing ever, or keeping the pound.
For me, what keeps me on the boil, without fail, is people who were directly responsible not only for encouraging and supporting the US in their efforts to pretend justification for a tremendously evil and illegal act, but for contributing to it materially and for doing so in all our names.

The Muslim community in Britain and elsewhere are regularly called upon to condemn extremism, whether that of actual violence or even just harsh words, isn't it amazing that in our western world we do not have to start every discussion about anything at all with apologies for our parts in the deaths and maimings of many hundreds of thousands of men, women and children and stating that the people who did these things, don't speak for us or represent us.
Except, the problem is of course, they do and that make us all guilty.

Paul Flynn

It's a bleak prospect if the only way to reform the party is a return to the concepts of John and Dianne. What they offer is ossified policies, some of which succeeded many of which failed. The welfare state and the NHS worked brilliantly. Nationalisation and council housing did not.

While your contribution are greatly valued, you have never said which is your party Huw. I suspect it's Plaid Cymru. If there are any lessons from May 6th, one glaring one is the decline of Plad Cymru who were beaten by the BNP in Newport West.


"The context in which the commons vote for the invasion of Iraq took place was amidst a great deal of scaremongering"

Yes it was, and the scaremongering is of course one of the first things that should have set off alarm bells in MPs heads.

"The executive being privy to intelligence which the rest of the house did not"

As I said, the fact that the "intelligence" that they chose to share was, where it had any specific checkable characteristics, was always debunked, generally within 48 hours and all long before the house of commons came to have a vote on joining with the Americans in an invasion that would clearly be illegal under international law.

On top of that they all agreed that they did not have people in the country so nothing that any intelligence agency could have had in 2002 could be new or different from the situation in 2001 when Colin Powell was giving speeches saying
"He (Saddam Hussein) has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours." and Condoleeza Rice was saying "Saddam does not control the northern part of the country, we are able to keep his arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt."

So no new information but all of a sudden we had claims from the US that not only did he suddenly have the capacity to create WMD but he had done so and they knew precisely where he had the WMD that he had created.

Everything about the prime movers in this range false, time and time and time again.

When all you have to go on from someone on a particular subject is a series of statements, any of which that you were in a position to check, when checked proved to be false, the only reasonable and rational assumption you can possibly reach about those people on that topic, is that they are lying.
It was, as I said, extremely clear cut.

The Labour party currently only have one candidate for leader who, whatever his other strengths or weaknesses demonstrated himself to be neither a warmongering liar, a sheeplike follower, nor a knowing follower of liars and he is of course the one that not even Paul will support.

For all of that I hope that this New despicable, deceitful and dishonest Labour party sink into the mire of history never to see the light of day again.

They abandoned left wing politics, they abandoned international law and they abandoned rationality and common sense.
Why would any one want them to continue, everyone would be better off to see the party buried.

It won't happen, their tory cronies(the other ones who thought voting for an illegal war for no reason was an acceptable action) are still around and New Labour, will survive in that voldemortian half life that has sustained the tory party through its dark years to revive and walk the face of this earth again when it should if there were such a thing as natural law or divine justice, have been forever buried.

The only way to turn the Labour party into something worth having is being rejected by even the best of the older Labour MPs.
Better that as a party they die now in shame than live on in ignominy, effectively blocking a real opposition and genuinely left wing parties.


'This was a clear cut choice between supporting something both illegal and immoral on the basis of nothing or opposing it.'

I'm not sure it was all that clear cut. The context in which the commons vote for the invasion of Iraq took place was amidst a great deal of scaremongering about the threat to national security which Saddam Hussein presented. The executive being privy to intelligence which the rest of the house is not did a lot to convince the rest that there was a very serious threat. It later became clear that this 'evidence' was false and a basis for war had been cooked up to suit an already determined agenda to support the Neocons.

'Those who proposed such action or supported it should not be considered for leadership of your party as they are irrevocably tainted.'

I wouldn’t go so far as to say anyone who voted for the war should be disqualified (being misled and naïve about what they were really signing up for by joining forces with the Neocons). It becomes a real problem for me only when a candidate cannot clearly agree that it was the wrong decision. I certainly hope the key players in promoting the case for war would be disqualified, although I‘m not sure any of the candidates fall into that category anyway.

But as Paul says, this is not what is going to be the deciding factor. It is going to come down to who will be the best candidate for making the party electable and whose proposals seem the best. I hope it also comes down to whether the candidate is a shady ‘career politician’ of the type who led us to war and will still insist it was the right decision, or one who appears to have some real principles that you can support. Somebody you feel you can trust not to abandon those principles for a ratings boost or because the White House or whoever asks them to.

I'm not sure if any of the candidates fit that specification but those are some of the things I would be considering if I was a party member.


You did take a noble stance on Iraq Paul, but are far too willing to assign the status of good faith error to others.
It could perhaps be considered arrogant of you to assume that you are so much smarter or more moral than the majority of your party colleagues that you would not expect them to have been capable of arriving at the same view as yourself.
Simple souls that they were, felt the evidence, against all rationality, was narrowly balanced.

This is not something that is on a par with internal party disagreement about the best way to target child benefits, or whether targets and 11+ exams could improve the quality of teaching.
This was a clear cut choice between supporting something both illegal and immoral on the basis of nothing or opposing it.
Those who proposed such action or supported it should not be considered for leadership of your party as they are irrevocably tainted.

But as I say, it's your party and you can do what you like, but if as a party you fail to choose wisely and fail to punish or go further and reward those who did not care enough to oppose the illegal war, or worse yet who proposed and pushed for it, then those of the public who care about such small matters as the deaths of hundreds of thousands of human beings will not become more enamoured of your party for doing so.

Of course the party may calculate that there is not a sufficiently large number of the electorate who give a damn to make any difference and if that is the calculation, and it is, then they are probably right.
But it is a cynical and unworthy calculation and I (irrelevant in the grand scheme of things as I am) will never have anything but contempt for those who take that position.

Paul Flynn

Huw you have distorted the argument to absurdity and attacked your own creation. I was firmly on side of truth and virtue on the Iraq. Those who supported it are responsible for their judgement and decisions.

The question now is whether that should determine who leads the challenge to the coalition. That should not be a major factor.


"not on providing a reward for retrospective virtue." - Paul

You imply Paul, that only in retrospect could the decision to back the unjustified and illegal war on Iraq be seen to be incorrect, immoral or wrong.
I for one, will never accept that as being the case.

I have said it many times before, but believe me I will never stop saying it.
In the build up to the Iraq war, British and American leaders made lots of claims about Iraq and WMD.
Every single one of those claims, that had sufficient substance as to actually be checkable, were quickly, easily and repeatedly proven and shown to be false, before the vote on whether to support the Prime Minister's call to war was made.

Opposition to the call for this terrible crime was not something only virtuous in retrospect, it was seen by millions of people the be the correct and moral choice at the time, based primarily on the utter non-existence of evidence to back up the claims being made in knowing mockery to provide support for an utterly immoral and unjustified act.

If such virtuous stances are to be unrewarded, then by default, the immoral, pigheaded and ignorant stances are to be considered of no less value than an understanding of laws, morals and justice.
And you wish for those stances, these unvirtous, immoral and incorrect choices to be no bar to the leadership of the Labour party.
Well it is your party Paul, not mine and so that choice is yours and the other party members, not mine.

But with those requirements for leadership, where being so wrong as to support war crimes should have no effect on the leadership then the labour party never would or could be mine.

Furthermore, though mine is a small and unimportant voice, it will be a voice forever used against the Labour party and the blood that is on its hands, until such time as the Labour party can face up to what it has allowed to be done in its name and reject those who led your party into the gutter of history, as well as those who happily followed along unperturbed by such nuanced and irrelevant concepts as good and evil.


Recent history shows us that the only way the Labour party can become electable is by having tory policies and a tory leader like Blair.
Without Blair and new Labour, the Labour party would have been in opposistion since Jim Callaghan.
Perhaps it's time to realise this basic fact that the country will never vote in a true Labour government.
The recent election shows that more people voted centre left than center right. The only logical way to produce a non-tory government is to merge the Lib-Lab parties to produce a powerful centre - Left coalition.

Paul Flynn

No Huw, I pressed for an Iraq Inquiry as hard as anyone else in order to avoid future mistakes and to ensure that there is transparency on future war decisions. It was PASC, the Select Committee on which I served, that led the demand for the Inquiry.

The point of the post was to avoid confusing two important issues. The truth on the war must be revealed. The best leader to restore the Labour Party should be based on merit and not on providing a reward for retrospective virtue.


I see its David Milliband urging people to not make Iraq war an issue in the race.
In total Blair style, it's "time to move on".

There have been the trials, the culprits for the crime of invasion have all been sentenced and Britain has withdrawn from Iraq (bilateral defence Training and Maritime Support Agreement, aren't we nice) and agreed reparations.
Well in that case maybe it is time to move on, we can't go beating ourselves up forever.
Uh OH.
Hold on, none of that has happened.

But what to do about those who voted for an action that was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children and has blighted Iraq for at least a generation, well at least they did so in good faith.
So I guess, that they've all resigned from public office due to a lack of judgement that has bathed them in blood is the best we could hope for.. What? That hasn't happened either? Oh well, let's just draw a line under it, its not like lives mean anything.

If the party does not purge its liars and warmongers Paul, then there is no reason for anyone to ever take it seriously again, go on, push them out and let them walk over to the Tory side of the house where they damn well belong.


Having had 13 years of a very poor very right wing so called labour govt, anyone who was a member of that govt has a cliff to climb if they think they should lead labour. Apologies for rising inequality, thatcherite economics, gross intrusion by the state and a couple of illegal wars would be a start.
Whilst the younger millipede at least sounds acceptable - if the answer is a Balls or Millipede the party is unlikely to be reelected.

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