Socialist Worker

Military father who snubbed Tony Blair speaks out: ‘Let’s stop the bloody wars’

Peter Brierley, whose son Shaun was killed in Iraq in 2003, made headlines last week by accusing Tony Blair of having blood on his hands at an Iraq war commemoration service. Peter spoke to Siân Ruddick about his opposition to the "war on terror&

Issue No. 2173

What do you think about the war in Afghanistan?

At first I felt hypocritical condemning the war in Afghanistan. One of the reasons I was opposed to the Iraq war was that it was illegal, but Afghanistan was sanctioned by the United Nations.

But I realised that there was no difference between the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

You just have to look at the situation in Afghanistan – there is no clear plan and soldiers are dying every day.

We could be there for ten or 100 years and it’ll be the same story. More lads will be killed and no one will be able to say we “won”.

Before your son died, how did you see the war in Iraq?

I believed we were under threat and we had to go to war to defend ourselves. I believed what the government said about weapons of mass destruction.

I changed my mind when Shaun died. I started to campaign, really to keep Shaun’s name going so that he didn’t just become a number.

I remember standing in Leeds, arguing with people on the Stop the War Coalition stall.

I believed what Tony Blair told us and so did Shaun. Shaun died believing he was protecting his country.

What do you think about the reasons our government has given for the war?

I don’t think that terrorism is the true reason we’re there. Some may emanate from the region but most is the result of a backlash against the invasion.

It was never as clear-cut as George Bush and Tony Blair said it was after 9/11.

Many people have been drawn into the resistance from other countries, including Britain, as a reaction to the war.

Do you see yourself as part of the anti-war movement?

I do now, yes. In the beginning I was campaigning on my own for the release of the legal advice that Blair used to justify the war to parliament.

When it was leaked I went on Channel 4 News and I said that we needed an inquiry.

That same day I got a call from the Stop the War Coalition, which was starting legal action against the government.

A few days after that I went and handed in a petition with others from Military Families Against the War.

I’ve been on quite a few demos now.

What do you want to say to the government?

My message to the government is: this is an unfair, unjust war. Bring the troops home now.

Who gave it permission to go and invade another country?

People have different ways of life and we can’t say to them, “Live by our laws.”

The only thing we’ve taught people in Afghanistan is how to fix votes, as happened in the recent elections.

Why is it important to support the march on 24 October to bring the troops home?

The government will see the troops out of Afghanistan demonstration in London on 24 October and take notice. I believe marching makes a difference.

I started campaigning for two reasons – to keep Shaun’s name alive and to get an inquiry.

I believe I have done the first one. And it took six and a half years to get an inquiry but we got it.

By being on the streets we get closer to the point of bringing the troops home.

Everyone should bring one or two other people – people who have never been on a demonstration before, who aren’t activists.

There are people everywhere who watch the demonstrations on TV but don’t come out.

I used to be the person who sat in the chair. I didn’t know who to contact to get involved but I’d watch the protests and think, “I want to be part of that.”

It took my son’s death to push me into doing something.

Demonstrate to show the government that we are strong.

Afghanistan: bring the troops home,
assemble 12 noon, Saturday 24 October, Hyde Park, London: March to Trafalgar Square.

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Tue 13 Oct 2009, 18:11 BST
Issue No. 2173
Share this article


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.