Writing about how much the Labour Party has changed since it was led by Tony Blair and led by him to war in Iraq, Mark Seddon says:
Ten years on, and only the weirdly messianic Blair still believes he was right...
Funny thing, though, he also says: 'only columnist David Aaronovitch... still parades some of the old, moth-eaten arguments'. Perhaps Seddon hasn't grasped the logic of the word 'only'. Perhaps, too, he's not acquainted with Dave Anderson, Labour MP for Blaydon. Anderson is unusual in having trodden an opposite path over Iraq to that taken by others. He opposed the war in 2003 but now thinks it was right (£):
Ten years ago I was utterly opposed to the invasion of Iraq. At the time I was president of Unison and sat on the TUC General Council, so like a lot of others in the labour movement I did my bit to lobby against Western intervention, believing that the reasons given for invasion were not justified, that the argument about WMD was not proven and that inspections should have been given a chance to work.
But in the years since I have had to face new facts, having been to Iraq to see things for myself. I now see that the international community should have toppled Saddam Hussein much earlier than 2003.
One benefit of Saddam's removal - one very close to my heart - was the re-emergence of a trade union movement that had been brutally suppressed by his regime. I was really proud when Unison established a training school for shop stewards in Kurdistan in 2006.
Early in that year I joined a Labour Friends of Iraq delegation to Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. I was struck by the attitude of the trade unionists: comrades and friends keen to develop their skills so that they could better stand up for working people.
The first thing that they said was: "We need your help. We need your Government to start investing in this country, because if they do not invest we will not have work, and without work we do not have a trade union movement." That was a very simple equation. What they also said, very clearly, was: "We thank you, as a nation, for what you did for us in 1991, and we thank you even more for what you did for us in 2003, when you liberated us." That was a shock for me. I saw 2003 as an invasion by an unwanted occupying power.
However, it was all very well for me, sitting in the comfort of Blaydon, to say that it was really, really wrong for the allied forces to invade. It was not me being wiped off the face of the earth by Saddam's thugs. It was not my parents being buried alive. It was not my village being flattened.
It did not change my view that we invaded Iraq for the wrong reasons, but what became ever clearer to me was that we should have liberated Iraq many years earlier. If we had, we could have stopped genocide being unleashed against the Iraqi people.
Anderson goes on to set out the horrible details of repression and genocide that contributed to changing his mind, and says 'For people such as me who were against the war in Iraq, it was a wake-up call that could not be ignored.' He doesn't, though, speak of the huge costs of the war in lives lost. Just like Mark Seddon not mentioning, for his part, a single consideration in favour of the toppling of Saddam. It's one of the more surprising ideological phenomena of our time: a major issue dividing world opinion and where there were obviously compelling reasons on both sides; and large numbers of people conducting themselves in argument as if there were nothing to be said against their own view.