Ed Miliband’s new-found opposition to the Iraq war: what his voting record shows

Ed Miliband was not an MP in 2003, when Labour and Conservative MPs voted en masse to approve the British invasion of Iraq: so we do not know how he would have voted if he had had the opportunity.

The Ed-supporting New Statesman has been keen to promote his anti-Iraq war credentials — see for example their third-hand hearsay evidence here — but there appears to be nothing on the public record to back up his claim.

We are left, therefore, with Ed Miliband’s voting record in the one full Parliament in which he has served. Take a look at the new Labour leader’s voting record in the House of Commons, as recorded by PublicWhip.org.

As you can see, Mr E. Miliband has a proud 0% voting record on the issue of ‘Iraq Investigation – Necessary’. There were 10 separate votes in the House of Commons in the period in which he has been an MP: in not a single one of these did Mr E. Miliband take the opportunity to make clear, or even hint at, what he now so sincerely believes: that the Iraq war was wrong.

(Incidentally, you will see in the screenshot above a few other issues on which Mr Miliband’s voting record over the last five years contradicts his new-found love of most Lib Dem policy: he voted 100% in favour of ID cards, 100% in favour of ministerial powers of intervention in coroners’ inquests, 100% in favour of Labour’s programme of post office closures, 100% in favour of reducing the powers of Parliament, etc.)

Now Mr E. Miliband will maintain, as he did in his BBC Radio 4 Today Programme interview this morning, that he was bound by collective responsibility; that however sincere his own reservations about Labour’s full-throated support of the Iraq invasion, it was necessary for him to suppress his own voice for the good of the government as a whole. And of course for much of the public, he’s a blank canvas, not identified with the Iraq policy — so chances are this ruse will work.

But Ed Miliband made this point emphatically in his speech yesterday:

This generation wants to change our foreign policy so that it’s always based on values, not just alliances.

“Always based on values.” It’s a little hard to see how the values which led Mr E. Miliband to act as voting fodder for his government in the division lobbies on Iraq are the same as the values that led Charles Kennedy and his fellow Lib Dem MPs to brave the insulting taunts of Labour and Tory MPs to vote against the Iraq war when it mattered most. Values are usually easy to discern years later with the benefit of hindsight. But real values are about having the guts to take a stand when the path ahead is confused and difficult.

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16 Comments

  • Brian Robinson 29th Sep '10 - 10:01am

    So, Ed Milliband has said that “however sincere his own reservations about Labour’s full-throated support of the Iraq invasion, it was necessary for him to suppress his own voice for the good of the government as a whole”.

    I have just two words in response to that…

    Robin Cook

  • An interesting analysis but there is the question of how best one man can take on the system.

    It is a judgement call. Ed decided to fight from within.

    Charles Kennedy did not resign as an MP in protest of the Iraq war because of not wishing to be associated with a House of Commons which voted for the war. He stayed in.

  • david robinson 29th Sep '10 - 11:22am

    pity that other mps in all parties had seen sense earlier….as a grumpy old labour supporter ..surely people change position (witness the current Junta that clings to power//)
    love and peace
    David Robinson

  • David Boothroyd 29th Sep '10 - 11:35am

    Not voting for silly Lib Dem positioning motions demanding enquiries left right and centre tells you nothing other than that Ed Miliband is a sensible politician.

  • Roy's Claret Army 29th Sep '10 - 12:40pm

    I think LibDems had better be very careful about making charges based on Ed Milliband being bound by collective responsibility. Just think of all the Tory measures that your ministers will have to vote for in the next five years.

    Collective Responsibility – Live with it and stop point scoring over it.

  • To Brian Robinson

    There’s a very big difference between Robin Cook resigning because he couldn’t support the Iraq invasion and Ed Miliband choosing to stay in the Cabinet rather than voting for an inquiry.

  • Matthew Huntbach 29th Sep '10 - 2:23pm

    The Iraq war has been and gone, and the British public in general never thought it was as big a thing as the political elite did. The political left has gone into self destruction because its obsession with the Iraq war has prevented it developing a coherent and visible policy on the things that matter more to ordinary people. So we should shut up about the Iraq war, it doesn’t do us any good. It makes us look like losers who are forever going on about something we got right years ago which to the observer reads as “they haven’t achieived anything better since”.

  • I’m a Lib Dem, I care greatly about truth and character analysis, and I am on the right end of the party compared to most other Lib Dems – hence yes I am pleased we are in government with the Conservative party, however this is NOT how we Lib Dems fight against the opposition.

    Firstly we do not bother to push gossip around about the character of a political leader unless there is a serious, evidence-backed reason to do so.

    Looking at someone’s lack of voting history is not evidence of anything at all, other than that someone may have wanted to keep quiet about something.

    Secondly, this is a really poor analysis. It has more akin to how the modern media approach politics, not how the political thinkers do.

    Everyone knows that you cannot judge a man by his voting history.

    And everyone knows that sometimes in politics it’s necessary to compromise one’s personal values and beliefs in order to increase your influence – perhaps you have to act under someone else’s authority, and you will get nowhere if you take on the whole system on your own, so that one day you may use your personal values and beliefs for good, in a way that you may not have been able to do when acting under someone else’s authority.

    I’m a new convert to the Liberal Democrat party, but this is the very kind of tribalism and illogic that I hate most, and it’s sad to see it coming from the lips of someone so seemingly young.

    You should be ashamed of yourself for this awful low-blow on a newly elected political leader.

    It’s clear you have a future in the media, but as for being a serious ‘voice’ in modern clean politics, you can forget it.

  • Mike(The Labour one) 29th Sep '10 - 4:58pm

    Which is the better theoretical Ed Miliband-

    The one who assuages his conscience by making his opposition to the Iraq War override his better instincts, feeling unable to join the cabinet and be bound by collective responsibility before shrinking into obscurity, the vote having gone in the government’s favour anyway.

    OR

    The one who realizes that he wasn’t powerful enough to change the outcome but sticks with the party so that he actually make a difference in the end.

    I respect either position. But if Robin Cook couldn’t stop the Iraq War then what could David Miliband’s little brother have done about an investigation into it? I’m glad anyway that he didn’t throw his career away impotently.

  • Stuart Mitchell 29th Sep '10 - 7:58pm

    I don’t see anything contradictory about being opposed to the war but nevertheless accepting that the decision was taken democratically and ought not be subject to an endless round of witch hunts. It’s pretty close to my own position.

    “…Labour’s full-throated support of the Iraq invasion…”

    Sorry, but that is just re-writing history. The 122 Labour MPs who voted against the war were certainly not full-throated in support of the invasion, nor were the many thousands of Labour supporters (and other assorted lefties) who made up the bulk of the anti-war demonstrations.

    Only 13 Tory MPs voted against the war yet nobody seems too perturbed about *that*.

  • All of this means nought.

    You have formed a Coalition with a party – who some 85% of their MPs voted in favour of the war.

    It is utterly hypocritical to keep suggesting that Labour are somehow unique. If this was such an issue for LDs – why is your leader building IKEA furniture with David Cameron?

  • *quote*Which is the better theoretical Ed Miliband-

    The one who assuages his conscience by making his opposition to the Iraq War override his better instincts, feeling unable to join the cabinet and be bound by collective responsibility before shrinking into obscurity, the vote having gone in the government’s favour anyway.

    OR

    The one who realizes that he wasn’t powerful enough to change the outcome but sticks with the party so that he actually make a difference in the end.

    I respect either position. But if Robin Cook couldn’t stop the Iraq War then what could David Miliband’s little brother have done about an investigation into it? I’m glad anyway that he didn’t throw his career away impotently. *endquote*

    Call me naive, simple or whatever, but as one of the simple people sent time and again to the deserts of the middle east to implement government policy I find this offensive. IF you actually disagree with something you stand up and let people know. IF you don’t have the gumption to fight your corner then you you forfeit the right to claim anything. Just my 2 pence worth. No-one has ever been in any doubt what I have thought or what i believe. The fact that this “man” can cast aside his public voting history for a nice soundbite demonstrates that he has no regard for anything other than personal power.

    If you want to have people such as Ed Miliband representing you in the world then don’t expect me to do your dirty work anymore…. you all disgust me

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