There is a great deal of empty posturing from the parties after the Manchester tragedy. Most of it is unconvincing self-justification. Of course our foreign policies have increased terrorist attacks. Read below how hundreds of recruits to our armed forces were assured that putting their lives on the line in Iraq and Afghanistan stopped terrorists from attacking us here. I called that a ‘lie’ at the time. I was expelled from the Commons for refusing to withdraw the word ‘lie’. It was then and remains now entirely justified. On the question of being wise before the event, in late March 2003, I wrote to Tony Blair about Iraq:
“Our involvement in Bush’s war will increase the likelihood of terrorist attacks. Attacking a Muslim state without achieving a fair settlement of the Palestine–Israeli situation is an affront to Muslims, from our local mosques to the far-flung corners of the world. A pre-emptive attack of the kind we have made on Iraq will only deepen the sense of grievance among Muslims that the Western/Christian/Jewish world is out to oppress them. This will provide a propaganda victory to Osama Bin Laden and can only increase his support and the likelihood of more acts of terrorism.
In the Commons you repeated that it is an article of faith to you that Britain and the USA should have a common foreign policy. Fine when there is an American President such as Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Carter or Clinton: disastrous when it is a right wing fundamentalist Republican such as Bush.”
September 19th 2012
Hammond offered a despicable justification for more war without ending. ‘Four hundred and thirty British service personnel have given their lives, and we intend to protect that legacy by ensuring that the UK’s national security interests are protected in future by training and mentoring the Afghan national security forces.’
His argument is, to justify the waste of 430 lives by foolish politicians, more lives should be lost. Since the expulsion of al-Qaida there has been no threat to British security from Afghanistan. The Taliban attack us because we are occupying their country not because they plan terrorism on the streets of the UK.
Later on Monday afternoon I began to read the list of the fallen in Afghanistan. 25 of my Early Day Motions have filled 13 pages of the Commons motions paper for the past two weeks. I previously sought an arrangement for the full list to be read in the Commons. The Speaker courteously stopped me. ‘Mr. Flynn raised with me his view that there should be a formal oral recording, periodically, of lives lost, and asked me to look into the matter. I said that I would, and I am doing so, and I think it wise to proceed on the basis of consultation. I intend to speak very soon to the Leader of the House, the shadow Leader of the House and various others about the matter, and then to revert to the hon. Gentleman.’ I was delighted with that assurance and ended the reading.
Tuesday dawned with the news that ISAF had fallen for the precise Taliban trick that Hammond said would never fool him. Humiliated, he was dragged back again to the Commons.
I asked: ‘The role of our brave soldiers is to act as human shields for Ministers’ reputations. The danger to our soldiers has been prolonged by those on the Front Bench who have the power to stop it. Other countries have removed their soldiers and are not doing, what we are doing, in arming and training our future enemy. Is this not similar to the end of the First World War, when it was said that politicians lied and soldiers died, and the reality was, as it is now, that our brave soldier lions were being led by ministerial donkeys?’
The Speaker asked me to make clear if I was saying a Minister was lying. There was only one possible answer. My head was full of the deceptions of vain ministers since 2006, the avoidable 430 deaths and 2,000 soldiers who return home broken in mind and body.
‘Yes, ministers had lied’ I said. Exclusion was inevitable and a price worth paying.
April 16th 2016
I am very much enjoying the hon. Gentleman’s authoritative speech. Will he confirm what he has just said, because it is a matter of some importance? I was expelled from the House for saying the same thing some years ago. Will he confirm that the story that those young people going to Afghanistan were actually stopping terrorism on the streets of Britain was an untruth; that those people were deluded into going there in the belief that they were defending their families here; and that the only reason the Taliban were killing our soldiers in Afghanistan was that we were there and that as soon as we came out they lost interest? Does he think that there was a continuing deception of our soldiers, many of whom lost their lives?
Mr Adam Holloway (Tory MP)
I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman in the sense that the original invasion of Afghanistan was highly effective and that the Afghan people essentially removed al-Qaeda and the Taliban, but unfortunately it was the disastrous NATO deployment to Afghanistan that whipped up the insurgency. I shall come on to that point in a minute if I may.
As I was saying, people do not get promoted for telling the truth. I sent my first draft of this speech to a friend who is a well-known and courageous BBC foreign correspondent. He emailed me, saying, “Reminds me of being attacked for negative coverage that I put out in Iraq and Afghanistan by officials who later admitted, either privately or in memoirs, that things were actually worse than I was saying in my news reports.”