Michael Martin, the speaker of the House of Commons, refused to accept an amendment to the Queen’s Speech signed by over 100 MPs calling for a debate on an exit strategy from Iraq on Monday of this week.
This means that parliament will not be able to debate the disaster that is the occupation of Iraq. Martin’s decision serves to underline the democratic deficit that exists in Britain. It follows the recent defeat of a proposal to hold an official inquiry into the Iraq war—which was backed by only 12 Labour MPs.
At least one other amendment was selected which had considerably less parliamentary support.
Martin’s decision came on the same day as defence secretary Des Browne’s announcement about British troop withdrawals from Iraq.
Chris Nineham, national organiser of the Stop the War Coalition, said, “Des Browne’s statement on troop withdrawal is so vague as to be meaningless—and the decision by the speaker means that his words will go unchallenged.
“Parliament needs to catch up with the people. It is practically the only institution in British society that doesn’t register an anti-war majority.
“Over the coming weeks and months the Stop the War Coalition will be putting maximum pressure on parliament to start listening to the electorate and to finally break with George Bush and Tony Blair’s war policies.”
John McDonnell MP, the left wing Labour leadership challenger, said, “The government must bring forward a clear programme for the withdrawal of British forces from Iraq.
“The government line of staying ‘until the job is done’ is clearly no longer feasible. It is now widely accepted that the occupying forces are part of the problem, not part of the solution.”