Opinion: Why Labour can’t square the circle in Basra

Bob Ainsworth the defence minister had a torrid time on The Today Programme this week. He tried to persuade us that the British troops leaving Iraq today was a “success story”. John Humphreys put to him a quote from the police commander that “They have left me militias, they have left me gangsters, they have left me all the troubles in the world”.

On behalf of the government, Bob had to waffle on in response that “things were not perfect but they are better than before …”. Patently this was not the case, but the pretence had to be maintained in order for the government to save face.

The logic of his position weakened further when he admitted that the British troop presence had become more of a problem than a solution. How long has that been the case? I wanted to ask.

Isn’t it an odd coincidence that our “success story” just happened to coincide at the same time as our troops being perceived as the main problem in Basra? How is it possible to plan the timing to leave with “success” being achieved at the same time that in local opinion polls 85% of the residents of Basra believe the British troops have had a negative effect?

Often in politics there is often the reason that sounds good, and then the real reason.

The reason that sounds good is that our troops have been a success. I doubt even Bob Ainsworth really believes in that.

And the real reason is that for years there is little useful that our troops can do there, and they have been defeated. It is as simple as that.

This is bad news for virtually everyone. It is also another nail in the coffin for neo-Conservatism

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.

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