It's not enough for them that they were RIGHT about Iraq; they want it also that they won the battle for democratic opinion - even though they didn't. This weekend there was a strange, though muted, echo of the views of Sam Parker, Owen Jones, Laurie Penny and Andrew Murray about the state of British political opinion when Britain went to war in Iraq. The echo came from Sir Menzies Campbell who wrote towards the end of a column in the Independent:
No PM could now venture to go to war without the endorsement of a vote in the Commons, as British involvement in Libya showed.
I call this strange because of course Tony Blair had the endorsement of a vote in the Commons. Scroll back up the column, however, and you will find this (in case you missed it):
For all his brilliance, Tony Blair could not get the wholehearted support of his own party in the division lobby. Nor could he carry public opinion with him.
I'll say no more than I have already about the state of opinion in late March 2003, but what about that first point, about Blair not getting 'the wholehearted support of his own party'? Is this a new move, to follow sovereignty being assigned to street demonstrations and/or opinion polls? Should it lie with the wholehearted support of the Labour Party, or of the governing party?
Campbell at least thinks that Iraq changed 'the political imperative' for the better, a view not shared by all those who've been telling us that a whole generation - the marchers who were ignored etc - has felt betrayed, being turned off democratic politics. Stuart Fox now subjects this claim to empirical testing. Here are some of his conclusions:
It is clear that the events of 2003 had virtually no effect on the perceived political effectiveness of young people, or indeed the rest of the electorate.
In 2001, 58% of young people were satisfied with British democracy; by 2005, the election immediately following the Iraq war, this figure rose to 61%, and reached 66% by 2010.
There is no evidence at all that an entire generation has been politically scarred for life by the invasion of Iraq or the events that surrounded it.