Friday, January 23, 2009

A Labour Friend Of Iraq

Anyone interested in improving conditions for the Iraqi people should read this speech by Ann Clwyd (see photo) in the Commons on 14 January. Not only is she the Prime Minister's Special Envoy on Human Rights in Iraq, but she identifies strongly with the important work of Labour Friends of Iraq (LFIQ).

When Labour Friends of Iraq (LFIQ) was founded in 2004, the initial Joint Presidents were Ann Clwyd and myself. She had been as vigorous in her support of the 2003 invasion of Iraq as I had been in opposition to it. Neither of us have changed our minds about the issue since then. But we both felt that whatever people's views in the Labour Movement had been about the invasion, a situation had arisen which meant that the clear priority for Labour should be to try to aid the people of Iraq by giving support, assistance and encouragement to those Iraqis who were trying to meet the basic needs of their people in terms of security, living standards, civil rights and democratic opportunities. In particular we believed in working with our Labour Movement equivalents in Iraq; especially those within the Trade Union Movements in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan. Both these movements are interconnected and see each other as being close brothers and sisters.

After I retired from Parliament, I gave up the position of Joint President of LFIQ as I felt that it would be more helpful to have that position filled by a serving Member of Parliament. Dave Anderson was then a newly elected MP for Blaydon and he shared LFIQ's approach. Like me he had also been an opponent of the invasion. When he replaced me as Joint President this retained what for LFIQ was a meaningful pattern of having Joint Presidents who came initially from different camps. They might still disagree about the past, by they shared the LFIQ horizon on the priority of furthering the immediate and basic needs of the Iraqi people.

For old times sake, I was made Vice-President and I am still proud to retained that position, along with honorary membership of the Iraqi Trade Union Movement. I recommend a close study of Ann's speech.

Hat Tip : LFIQ

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