Counting the Iraqi dead (not): PM’s Questions
You’ll probably have seen the latest ‘open letter’ to Tony Blair, published today, and signed by many of the usual suspects including me: it demands (or appeals for) an independent inquiry to try to establish the number of Iraqi war casualties, a rather vital statistic which our elected leaders have shamelessly refused to monitor — or, more likely, which they are determined to keep secret. The text of the letter and list of signatories are at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4077031.stm and there’s also a link to it at http://www.countthecasualties.org.uk/ which includes, in addition, media coverage, background, etc.
I have to admit to being rather chuffed at finding myself signing in the company of a Privy Councillor, a general, a bishop, several professors, the secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, Helena Kennedy, Gillian Slovo and Harold Pinter.
The prime minister gave us all (i.e. the signatories) an irritable rocket this afternoon at PM’s Questions in the House of Commons — accusing us of ignoring the fact that it’s the bad guys, terrorists and insurgents, who are killing the Iraqis to prevent them getting democracy, while the good guys (us) are only killing bad guys so that the Iraqis can have democracy. Fourth Form stuff, I’m afraid. Michael Howard had him on the ropes over Blunkett’s disobliging comments on Blair, Straw, Hewitt, Brown, Clarke, etc., as quoted in a forthcoming biography of the embattled home secretary. Blair seemed unaccountably unprepared for this.
I am strongly of the view that Blunkett should resign, not because he has been misbehaving with some American married lady and fiddling his MP’s travel vouchers, but because he is the worst and most illiberal and unprincipled home secretary since H Brooke (unless you reckon that J Straw is next in line for that accolade).
8 December 2004