The afternoon’s debate was ‘Iraq and the wider Middle East’. Blair didn’t lead on this and wasn’t even in Parliament for the debate. He should have been there and should have spoken. The first debate in government time for four years – and a Prime Minister who was only too keen to come to the Chamber when he wanted to persuade us into war (it worked on the Tories, but not on the Liberal Democrats) suddenly doesn’t have time to debate after all.
Ming was genuinely awewome. I haven’t seen him give such a bravura speech since I came to Parliament. It is his strong suit – so it was so impressive. This was acknowledged by all sides.
The Liberal Democrats put forward a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. Yes – withdrawal with outline dates. Our premise is that without a deadline (based on what might be realised and pragmatic) there will never be a ‘right’ moment and now we have undoubtedly become part of the problem not the solution. We are making things worse now – not better.
Well – this proposal certainly upset the Tories (who voted for the war but are now saying they were duped by Tony; I guess they won’t be running their next election campaign based on a “you can trust our judgement” platform!). How can you name a date they asked. Supposing things aren’t quiet when you get to the date? We think sometimes you have to make things happen. Lib Dems voted against the war – but once there – we felt we had to support the troops etc. But once the democratic(ish) elections were held, then there had to be a plan to withdraw. Now is the right time to set a progam of withdrawal in place – and that’s what we set out today, and what Ming explained in his latest online broadcast: