Parliament held a rare debate on the Iraq war on Wednesday of this week – though Tony Blair refused to attend and government whips refused to allow a vote on the issue. Here is Respect MP George Galloway's forensic demolition of the government's case for war.
When I was his warm-up act, I used to describe the right honourable member for Manchester Gorton [Gerald Kaufman] as the best foreign secretary we never had, and his speech this evening showed why.
Indeed, an alternative administration of all the talents became clear on the Labour benches, including the right honourable gentleman's friends, the right honourable member for Holborn and St Pancras [Frank Dobson], and the honourable members for Islington North [Jeremy Corbyn] and for Liverpool Walton [Peter Kilfoyle].
How much stronger the Labour Party's position would be in the opinion polls today if those were the men sitting around the cabinet table, rather than the men and women who are.
What a contrast there was between those shafts of light and the myopia displayed by the foreign secretary. So rose-tinted were her glasses that she had even spotted the first elections in Saudi Arabia.
As one who follows events in the Arab world closely, I must tell the house that I missed the first elections in Saudi Arabia, probably the un-freest, most undemocratic and most anti-democratic country on earth. So keen was the Foreign Secretary to describe the success of Anglo-American policy in the Arab world that she prayed in aid [appealed to] a grant to the youth parliament in Bahrain.
But those were not the most foolish of the things that the foreign secretary said in her long speech. She talked about supporting the government and people of Lebanon. Well, let us split that proposition.
She was not much help to the government of Lebanon when its prime minister was weeping on television and begging for a ceasefire, and when the British and American governments alone in the world were refusing, indeed blocking, any attempts to demand an immediate cessation of the Israeli bombardment.
Worse, she was not much help to the government or the people of Lebanon when British airports were being used for the trans-shipment of American weapons to Israel that were raining down death and destruction on the very people of Lebanon whom she now claims to stand beside.
But, of course, that was code for saying that she does not support the one million demonstrators in the square in Beirut who are demanding democracy.
The foreign secretary describes the government of Lebanon as a democratic government. If the minister will listen, I can educate him. There is no democratic government in Lebanon. The minister should know that.
If there were a democracy in Lebanon, Hassan Nasrallah would be the president, because he would get the most votes. But of course he cannot be the president, because you have to be a Christian to be the president, and you have to be a Sunni to be the prime minister, and you have to be a Shi'ite to be the speaker.
What they have in Lebanon is precisely the opposite of democracy. It is a sectarian building-block government that they have in Lebanon, and moreover one based on a census that is more than 50 years out of date.
If those one million demonstrators had been in Ukraine or Belarus or Georgia, they would be described as the orange revolution, or given some other epithet – perhaps even 'the cedar revolution'.
Palestine and Iraq
So myopic was the foreign secretary that she talked about the peace process in Palestine and refused to condemn the theft, as the right honourable member for Manchester Gorton put it – he used the word – of $900 million, stolen from the Palestinian Authority.
The right honourable member for Liverpool Wavertree [Jane Kennedy], without a hint of irony, advanced the extraordinary proposition that we are fighting for democracy in Iraq, while we can steal the money of the Palestinian Administration in the occupied territories because the people voted for a government whom Olmert, Bush and Blair did not like.
So myopic was the foreign secretary's view that she prayed in aid an opinion poll from Basra which told us that the people had every confidence in the police – we had to send the British in to blow up a police station and kill umpteen Iraqi policemen because we said that they were about to massacre the prisoners in their jails.
The foreign secretary prayed in aid the Iraqi government – a virtual government – saying that, more importantly, the Iraqi government do not consider that they have a civil war.
Of course they do not, because there is no Iraqi government. As the right honourable member for Manchester Gorton put it, we have installed a gang of warlords in power in Baghdad, the heads of competing militias, some of them at war with our own soldiers in the south of Iraq.
It is not a government, but Martin Scorsese's 'Gangs of New York' that we have put in charge in Baghdad. That is not my concept. That is the concept of the right honourable member for Manchester Gorton.
So myopic was the foreign secretary that she had her finger out and wagging at Iran, warning it of what it must do, or must not do in terms of nuclear weapons.
She is the foreign secretary of a government who are about to spend £75 billion on our own nuclear weapons, who declare themselves the best friend of Israel, which has hundreds of nuclear weapons and refuses to sign the non-proliferation treaty, and who say nothing about Pakistan, a military dictatorship acquiring nuclear weapons. It would make you laugh if it did not make you cry.
Most serious of all was the extent to which the foreign secretary sought to lull us to sleep walk into a coming conflict with Iran. Invited by one of her colleagues to describe, as the former foreign secretary had, an attack on Iran as inconceivable, she refused, preferring instead the formulation that no one is contemplating it.
But they are contemplating it. Israel has a war plan carefully worked out to do it. As we know from the journalism of Seymour Hersh, the greatest of all American journalists, who brought us the stories from Vietnam, American generals have to the nth degree worked out an attack upon Iran.
The foreign secretary says that we stand by our soldiers. We stand by them so much that we pay them so little. We had to give them a Christmas bonus to make up their wages. Their families are claiming means-tested benefits and living in houses that you would not put a dangerous dog in. We send them, ill clad, ill equipped, ill armed, without armour, on a pack of lies into war after war after war.
Let me invite the house to contemplate this and see if I am as right about this as I was about Iraq four years ago. If a finger is raised against Iran by Israel or the United States, the first people to pay the price will be the 7,000 young men and women of the British armed forces that we have stationed in the south of Iraq, where Iran, thanks to us, is now top dog.
If members want to know what that will look like, think about the film 'Zulu', but without the happy ending. That is how irresponsible our government are. They are part of an axis that is contemplating a war against a country that we have made powerful in a place where we have our soldiers standing in a thin red line in the sand.
For the moment, the trial of Tony Blair merely takes place on Channel 4 television. The day will come, and it is coming soon, when a real trial of Tony Blair will take place in a real court.