I know who I won't be voting for at the general election

It is Gordon Brown's patriotic duty to replace Mr Blair as swiftly as possible

Share
Related Topics

Being able to travel to work without being blown up and not having to worry about one's children in their schools matters just as much to people as whether their family has enough to live on. We worry as never before about our personal safety in this era of terrorist outrage. That is why the next general election is going to be different from its predecessors. Security has become a first-order question, along with prosperity and the rule of law.

Being able to travel to work without being blown up and not having to worry about one's children in their schools matters just as much to people as whether their family has enough to live on. We worry as never before about our personal safety in this era of terrorist outrage. That is why the next general election is going to be different from its predecessors. Security has become a first-order question, along with prosperity and the rule of law.

On this aspect of government policy, a conclusion can now be reached. Labour, led by Mr Blair, has made us less safe. The Prime Minister's crusade in Iraq has had a perverse result. The continuing occupation of the country encourages rather than deters militant Islamist groups, cells and suicide bombers, who wreak death from Bali to New York and from Kenya to Russia.

How could it be otherwise when Muslims across the world see US tanks nosing ever closer to mosques in holy cities? How could this not be the case when Iraqi deaths are counted in their tens of thousands, yet go virtually unnoticed by the coalition powers? How could it be different when, as it turns out, Islamist forces seem to be winning?

For American troops have lost control of large sections of Iraq. In areas ceded by them, Iraqis working with the coalition have been ousted and killed. And when the Americans make an agreement to enter a disputed city, as they did last week in Samarra, they are obliged to let local fighters keep their guns. It is questionable whether large numbers of Iraqis will be able to vote in the elections scheduled for January. Remember that one of the justifications for the invasion was that the democratisation of Iraq would lead to the democratisation of the whole Middle East.

Even the cautious Financial Times said on Friday that it was "time to consider Iraq withdrawal" and that coalition forces were part of the problem rather than the solution. Thus this utterly conventional newspaper finds itself in agreement with al-Qa'ida, which had issued a statement the previous day stating that "the defeat of America in Iraq and Afghanistan has become a matter of time ... If they remain they will bleed to death. If they withdraw, they will have lost."

In short, the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq has been an unmitigated disaster. In American post-war history it ranks with Vietnam; in British history with the botched invasion of the Suez Canal in 1956.

In coming to this conclusion, we need not reproach ourselves for being wise after the event. For when the decision was being made, millions of people made clear their disagreement by participating in one of the biggest and most dignified protest marches ever to take place in this country. "Not in our name" was the slogan. And at the same time, major allies refused to join the invasion. We cannot dismiss Germany's and France's reservations as in some way eccentric: their leaders are every bit as grown up and serious as ours. They have electorates, too.

How did Mr Blair get us into the mess? Because he didn't at first see where George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz were coming from. He didn't understand from the beginning that they are in thrall to the notion that the United States, as the single superpower, must work its will on the rest of the world. Even, ridiculously, that the US serves God in so doing.

These right-wingers are not conservative in the sense of respecting the wisdom embedded in long-established habits and institutions. Rather they are impatient, aggressive imperialists, seeking not colonies but dominance. Today empire means the political control by a dominant country of the domestic and foreign policies of weaker countries. Don't let's congratulate ourselves any longer about the special relationship. In terms of foreign policy, Britain is part of the American empire; France and Germany are not.

Somewhere in the recesses of his mind, I believe, Mr Blair realised before the war began that he had chosen the wrong course. That is why he couldn't be frank with the British people. Whether he consciously or unconsciously set out to mislead us with the Iraq dossier, we shall never know. But why concern ourselves with whether he was a "sincere" deceiver, to use The Economist's phrase? If we are misled by someone with whom we are doing business, we don't normally spend any time considering their state of mind.

There is everything to play for in the forthcoming general election. But I have already made one decision. I cannot vote for a party led by Mr Blair.

Fortunately that leaves me with plenty of options. I am a "floater" par excellence. I usually cast my ballot for what proves to be the winning party. But as Gordon Brown ponders his future following the Prime Minister's Cabinet reshuffle, I want to say this to him. It is your patriotic duty to replace Mr Blair as swiftly as possible. Britain's relationships with the US , with Europe and with the Middle East need to be recast in a form that enhances our security rather than diminishes it.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Manager (Junior)

Negotiable: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Account Manager (Junior) Account ...

Javascript Developer

£40000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a...

Solar Business Development Manager – M&A

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Lead IOs Andriod Developer

£80000 - £90000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Lead Applic...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Voices in Danger: The innocent journalist kidnapped by Russian separatists for 'spying'

Anne Mortensen
A Bengal tiger captured by a camera trap in Nepal  

Save the tiger: The success of the Bengal tiger in Nepal shows you can make a difference

Harvey Day
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried